By Alex Smith
Barry Clinton has been a Tai Chi instructor for around thirteen years. After first trying it out on a Centre Parcs holiday (and thoroughly enjoying it) he joined a local group and the love of Tai Chi grew from there.
“With Tai Chi, if there are people coming for the first time then it is OK to mix in with other people who have been doing it for a long time. There is no beginners classes or advances classes, everyone joins in together.”
In his sixties, Barry can still comfortably bend his back, shoulders and knees. It was difficult for him to imagine where he would be health wise without doing Tai Chi. He believes that it has helped him to keep that flexibility. When it comes to aches and pains there are ‘no magic formulas to fix them’ as Barry put it, but Tai Chi can help ease the pain and help them keep in shape. As well as the physical benefits there are also mental health benefits that Tai Chi can provide.
“The reason I took up Tai Chi in the first place was that it made me feel like I had plenty of energy. When I first started the classes we used to finish at about 10 o clock in the evening and I felt like I had just got out of bed in the morning. I had so much energy to burn I thought there was must be something exciting about this, which is why I looked into it in more detail and took it up. It makes me feel so calm and relaxed in my everyday routine. I’m still learning and still getting something new from Tai Chi. There is no point signing up for a twelve week course and thinking that you’ll do that and then you can move on to something else. It is kind of a commitment for your life. I’m enjoying the fact I learn more about it, just at the point when you think you’ve got it and everything is right, something new comes along for you to discover, which is so exciting.”
“The idea with Tai Chi is to open the energy meridians in the body, like the Chi Kung movements are designed to do that. As humans we tend to tense up ourselves up quite a lot, we walk around with our shoulders hunched up and things like that. Tai Chi teaches us to release all of that and the Chinese medicine belief is that the energy is able to flow around the body quite freely. The belief is that if there is a muscle that is tense somewhere it blocks the natural flow of the body and Tai Chi teaches us to open that.”
Barry runs three Tai Chi classes a week, one at the Fleet Arts Centre in Belper on Wednesday mornings 9-10:30am. More information can be found via the Fleet Arts Centre Website.