Tai Chi inside and out…

Last month two Somerset West Jing-an Tai Chi Chuan students competed in the prestigious Formosa Cup in Taiwan. They are proud to have brought home a fifth place and a gold medal in the tuishou events.

Both students, Lesley-Ann Green and Giorgios Paltaglou, were members of Dr Michael Lan’s Jing-an team.

The team were honoured guests of Master Lin Mu Huo, who belongs to the same traditional Tai Chi lineage.

Last year, delegates from the Formosa Tai Chi Chuan Association in Taiwan visited South Africa. Subsequently, Jing-an was invited to represent South Africa at this year’s championship in April.

The event was held in Xinfeng County, Hsinchu and took place over two days.

The team consisted of Dr Michael Lan (Master), Gregory Adams, Justin Miccoli, Chris Edgar, Lelhaam Booley, Lesley-Ann Green and Giorgios Paltaglou.

They demonstrated their Tai Chi short form and competed in the tuishou. Tuishou translates as “pushing hands” – as it is widely known – and is the Tai Chi equivalent of application or sparring.

Opponents are matched by weight and enter into a three-minute match.

To win their division, they have to win at least two of three matches. Each match comprises three one-minute rounds.

The rules are strict. No overt aggression, pushing or shoving is allowed.

No grabbing, locking or striking. In true Tai Chi fashion, the aim is to “win” by not winning.

Tuishou is about internal strength, and although there are weight divisions, size and physical strength should not be important… pushing hands is not about using force.

The opponents face each other, standing on blocks and the focus is on moving each other off the blocks. Points are scored for each foot that goes off.

Balance, flexibility, softness, the ability to be well rooted, and internal strength are needed.

If, in moving ones’s opponent off the blocks, you also move off your own, no points are awarded.

The championship lasted two days. Justin Miccoli brought a bronze medal home, Giorgios Paltaglou a fifth place, and Lesley-Ann Green, gold.

Lesley-Ann teaches Yang style Tai Chi in Somerset West, where she practises as an acupuncturist. She is a student of Dr Michael Lan, who carries the direct Yang style lineage from the late Professor Cheng Man Ching.

Professor Cheng Man Ching popularised Tai Chi in the west.

He began his life in China, moved to Taiwan and then from there to America. Grandmaster Feng Chao-Lin was one of his students, who came to live in Cape Town. Dr Michael Lan is one of his most prominent students.

Martial art lineages are like pedigrees. Each one is unique and has refined their art through generations of training. Ultimately, everyone has the same source and shares the same basics.

Tai Chi is an internal martial art, known among the other martial arts as “The Supreme Ultimate”. It is a gentle art, a healing art. It requires dedication, discipline and diligence.

Anyone can do Tai Chi and the benefits are as simple as an increased sense of vitality and wellbeing to better sleep, ease from chronic conditions, greater flexibility, suppleness and core strength.

Tai Chi strengthens the joints. In the east, the mature, “older” generation is strong, healthy and positive.

Students practice and train in the parks, foyers of office blocks… wherever they can get together to share their Tai Chi. For more information on Tai Chi look at www.jing-an.co.za

* Lesley-Ann Green sent Bolander the story, and for more information, can be emailed at lesleyanngreen67@gmail.com