Before I started obsessively(?!) running marathons I trained at a Boxing Gym in Shoreditch twice a week and worked my way through 3 levels before being awarded my red belt in kickboxing. However, when I increased my mileage for the London Marathon in 2011 I sadly realised I just didn’t have the time or energy to do both, it broke me. I miss kickboxing.
When I was invited to try another martial art, Tai Chi, on Primrose Hill with some other fitness and lifestyle bloggers, I jumped at the chance!
I wasn’t really sure what to expect, or what to wear, so I went for my planned 4 mile run round Regents Park and turned up in my sweaty running gear. Everyone else looked very clean and un-sweaty. Oops, sorry!
The class was sponsored by Legal & General, who are backing a #fitnessisfree campaign to encourage more people to get outside and exercise, and was run by experienced Tai Chi instructor, Shifu Liu Quanjun (no, I don’t know how to pronounce that).
Our instructor, in his baggy gold satin trousers, went about explaining that Tai Chi promotes health and longevity, rebalances the body, increases energy and decreases stress. It’s an art that uses natural, circular, movements where you draw strength from the ground, the air, and from within.
He likened it to impersonating a tree…which we were conveniently gathered around for inspiration.
After a demonstration, which started with being very still for a few minutes, followed by some slow left to right style movements, and finished with some quicker jumping & kicking movements, it was time for us to get involved.
We started with getting our posture right with bent knees and arms raised, before swaying back and forth with our arms moving around in circles (very much like a tree swaying in the wind in fact, I get it now!). I was struck by how much my arms ached from this continual movement, I really must work on that…
We progressed through the sequence and started moving forwards whilst swaying and stamping our feet and then did some sideways kicking – my favourite part!
The group broke off into pairs and we tried some Tai Chi movements on each other with one person throwing a punch whilst the other cracks your ribs or breaks your wrist. Don’t worry, we were gentle, no ambulances involved today!
Shifu Liu showing my partner how to break my wrist in one quick movement. Scared? Me?!
I would love to master a martial art but I’m really not sure I have the patience. I very much enjoyed the more explosive movements and partner work, but I struggle to channel my inner energy which takes a lot of practice and concentration.
Would I give Tai Chi another go? Yes, but I think you would need more than one session a week to get the most out of it which I couldn’t do without giving up (more) sleep!