More than 30 students and supporters of the Wellington School of Tai Chi Chuan celebrated the school’s 10th anniversary in style with a three-week tour of China in October.
With almost two years of planning, the tour allowed the Tai Chi group to visit popular tourist attractions like the Great Wall of China and Terracotta Warriors. Also included were specialised trips to the Shaolin Temple—home of Kung Fu—and Wudangshan—the birthplace of Tai Chi.
The Petone-based group also took the opportunity to “make like the locals” and practice Tai Chi in parks and public squares each morning—much to the fascination of Chinese locals. The sight of a group of foreigners practicing Tai Chi drew large crowds who applauded and took photos.
Practiced in China for centuries as a martial art, exercise, and as a means of improving the flow of internal energy (chi) within the body, Tai Chi, is said to improve balance, memory and strength.
School Sifu (Master) Hennie Barnard, has been involved with martial arts for over 50 years and has been an instructor for 20 years. Mr Barnard says the tour of China was the culmination of many years of hard work for him and his wife Hettie, who both emigrated from South Africa in the 1990s.
“I feel extremely proud of what we have achieved in the last ten years, and the opportunity to visit China, the home of Tai Chi, with a group of dedicated students and supporters was so special.”
The school is the largest of its kind in the Wellington region, with more than 100 students and nine instructors. Due to increasing demand, new branches have recently opened in Whitby and Roseneath.
Mr Barnard says Tai Chi is suitable for people of any age or ability and students include everyone from martial arts experts, to dancers, to people recovering from hip replacements.
The Wellington School of Tai Chi Chuan also offers classes in Qi Gong, meditation and self-defence. For those wishing to join, the first class is free of charge when a time is arranged with an instructor.