Student Perspectives

Why did you start Tai Chi?

To have better balance, gain agility and have a more peaceful mind.
I heard it was good for long term health. After a couple of classes, I continued because it didn't require any special equipment or clothing, practice took 15-20 minutes a day and I could do it in my kitchen.

What benefits have you experienced?

I was able to begin healing a spinal cord injury and drop my addiction to prescription pain killers. It helped to stop my chronic nerve pain.
Learning to relax individual muscles eliminated all pain from a whiplash injury, after having stiffness and lack of movement for 20 years and no success with treatments.
Tai Chi has given me mental relief during difficult times in my life. It has been the means of expanding my world by meeting many interesting, talented and warm friends.
More flexibility, a much better awareness of my body, more patience with myself to trust in the process, and I love the meditative quality of practice.
Overall I am physically healthier. It’s good for my osteoporosis and I keep growing ever closer to being relaxed. I also often think of the principles of push-hands as a metaphor for life and relationships. I like the idea of yielding and find myself telling myself to do that.
Tai Chi helps me to stay more present in the moment, which is something I've always struggled with. And my legs are much stronger than they've ever been.

The most surprising benefit was something I was not aware of when I started. Several years ago I had significant hearing loss in my right ear. After having many tests with ENT doctors and other specialists to determine what could be done to help me. I was stunned by a question one of them asked. He wanted to know what I did for work and what else I did. I told him about my daily Tai Chi practice. He said that the reason he asked was because people with my condition have trouble keeping their balance and walking. I believe that without Tai Chi I would have problems in those areas.

What interests you most about Tai Chi?

I just can't escape the feeling that it makes me feel like I am always striving to be a better person, in every way.
I understand downhill skiing quite well. I'm not in the Olympics because I have various mental and physical limitations. Tai Chi...I cannot really figure this thing out so that keeps me going. Plus the occasional times when the fog clears and I get a glimpse of its possibilities.

I also believe Tai Chi is something that helps me become more awake and see more clearly.

What are the top reasons you chose this class?

Fred and I had crossed paths in the Tai Chi community and I I knew he was a serious student of the art.
We work slowly and on the basic principles of Tai Chi.
To be honest, it fit into my schedule and the cost is very reasonable.
The idea of continuous movement appealed to me. From the very first class it felt right.
I think Fred is a good instructor for both beginning and more advanced students. He can teach the traditional form, give principal based instruction and is a good bridge between classical thinking and modern times.

Fred remains curious about the art rather than becoming doctrinaire and exclusive.

Other teachers I had were more interested in having everyone learn the form by rote. Here, I feel like I'm learning the fundamentals that go to the essence of Tai Chi.
Fred is an excellent teacher. Even though we meet in groups, he always finds a way to focus on individual needs.

Have you recommendations for new students?

I would recommend new students study with Fred because he is very skilled at what he teaches. I have been around other teachers and I think Fred is very gentle and wants us to learn the correct way. No matter how long I go to his classes, I learn something new every time.
There is so much more to it than you might imagine at the beginning. It never stops getting deeper and more profound. No matter how committed a student you are there are rewards, though obviously the more you practice, the more you feel them.
Be patient, give it time.
Try it. If you feel better, then come back. If you don't, then go do something else.

Beyond that, I'd suggest not being in a hurry; if increased skill and insight are in your future, you need not be in a hurry.

Finally, one needs a teachers who are committed to both the art and teaching and whose approach works for the student.

Practice, practice, practice
Be there for yourself. Don't compare yourself with other students.
Empty your mind of preconceived notions of what Tai Chi may or may not be. Put your trust in the process and in the teacher.