Public, potential new members have chance to check out ‘moving meditation’ martial art
Whenever one thinks of tai chi, the first thing that generally comes to mind is a venerable monk performing the slow, deliberate movements of the martial art in an idyllic park or on a mountain top. What folks might not realize is tai chi – particularly the Fung Loy Kok Taoist version – can be found in their own community. Moose Jaw is no exception, with 15 dedicated members of the FLK Taiost Tai Chi group meeting in the social hall of St. Andrew’s United Church twice a week to develop and practice what has been called ‘moving meditiation’. The club held an open house for anyone interested in seeing things firsthand, with a half-dozen interested onlookers learning what FLK Taoist Tai Chi is all about. “What we want to do is have people understand that tai chi is for everyone,” said Moose Jaw beginners instructor Elaine Crysler. “It’s a gentle form of a martial art and it helps stretch your tendons, it helps with your connective tissues; it helps your spine, your hips. It’s just all about your all-around well-being. “And you do it at your own speed. It’s not like you’re competing against anyone else. And people just find that it’s very healthy and a wonderful stress reliever.” The base of tai chi is what is known as the 108 movements, which are designed to stress different parts of the body in positive and gentle ways, explained Crysler. It’s the art’s famous style that makes it nearly ideal for someone looking to recover from injuries or joint and muscle damage. “More and more people are saying tai chi is the one to heal,” Crysler said. “And it is healing, people who have had knee operations and hip operations, this is one of the exercises they can do that will help bring them back to where they were.” While the club generally works out of the social hall, summer months will often see them stake out an area in front of the Moose Jaw Public Library and take advantage of the beauty of Crescent Park to enhance their exercise. “It’s beautiful over there and to do it with the group, you get the harmony of the whole group and it’s hard to explain how amazing it is, especially in that setting,” Crysler said. “To do it by yourself, there’s nothing wrong with that, but you don’t get the harmony of moving with a group.... it just makes you feel really good.” The club holds four sets of classes per week, two for each class of practitioner. The Beginning class will kick off a new season on Apr. 11 and will go from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays and 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturdays. The more advanced Continuing class meets on Wednesdays from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturdays. “There’s various stages of people joining,” Crysler explained. “There’s no test, there’s no grades, nothing like that. We have a beginner class and they’re there for about four months and that’s where they learn the 108 moves. From there, they move on to what we call continuing where it’s just that, continuing in tai chi.” And then there’s the massive world-wide community of tai chi, with about 40,000 members worldwide. Given the universal nature of the sport, one could practice it almost anywhere and fit right in. “So if you’re travelling and you see a tai chi club, you’re more than welcome to pop in,” Crysler said. I’ve attended lots of workshops with hundreds of people and it is really cool that it’s all the same.” For more information check out www.taoist.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beginners instructor Elaine Crysler talks about Fung Loy Kok Taoist Tai Chi during an open house for the Moose Jaw branch.