Sharing the benefits of Tai Chi with his community

Niklaas Thysen from Broadlands Park in Strand. PICTURE: CARMEN JACOBS

World Tai Chi and Qigong Day will be commemorated on Saturday April 30 and Tai Chi Master Niklaas Thysen, teaches this Chinese martial art form through self-defence lessons to local children.

Mr Thysen, a former policeman, residing in Strand, was introduced to the ancient Chinese martial art way back in the 1990’s when he was in search of a way to relieve work stress. Since then, he says, his passion for this martial art form has only intensified.

Now, after doing Tai Chi for more than 20 years, in addition to being a qualified Tai Chi Master, he is also the World Tai Chi and Qigong representative in South Africa.

He was first exposed to the Yang style Tai chi and Qigong in 1996 at the Kim Long Wushu School by instructor and friend, Dr Jeff Lan. “It was so fascinating, something completely new and unique,” he recalls this initial exposure.

“It also helped me a lot with my mental health in my profession, improved work relations, kept me motivated in my daily tasks, helped to cope with trauma, made me feel more balanced and relieved work stress and pressure which I was experiencing a lot of, at that time.”

The more he practised the Yang style Tai Chi, the more his overall well-being improved. This prompted a desire to share the benefits with others and he started presenting sessions to his colleagues.

He left the police force in 2013 to wholeheartedly immerse himself in the cultural aspects of Tai Chi which led to him qualifying as a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner.

Based on feedback he received over the years, he says his self-defence programme, Tai Chi for Kids, has proven to be a transformative tool in children’s development and behaviour.

Sessions are done from 3 years old. He says there is a tangible burst of excitement among children at the childhood development centres (ECD), when he shows up to teach them the Tai Chi moves. So much so, he amusingly adds, that they call him Mr Miyagi.

The first lessons for 2022 kicked-off in February this year at the Manah Private Academy in Somerset West and Debbie’s Educare centre in Gordon’s Bay.

“It instils self-discipline, teaches self-control, improves focus and concentration, improves their learning abilities, makes them more disciplined, helps to stimulate creative thinking and helps a lot with a sense or feeling of belonging,” he says.

After starting out years ago with his first sessions in Reithby, he has done them at local schools including, Rusthof Primary, Dr G.J Joubert and Danie Ackerman School. “I have done lessons as far as Manenberg, Kraaifontein, and even in the Klein Karoo Town of Leeu Gamka.”

Plans for this year and the next, is to expand the self-defence programme to reach as many pupils as possible.

“My vision is to train as many young people on school-going level as Tai Chi Marshalls who can act in leadership roles at schools to facilitate safer environments.”

Currently he is compiling a Tai Chi Curriculum with the intention of making it available to various health, safety and security, educational and social development programmes.

For more information contact him on 073 274 1139 or niklaasthysen2@gmail.com