Tai Chi as a martial art.

Tai chi is known for its being slow gentle exercise, but many people have been surprised to find it is also a martial art. This seems very unlikely, but if you are interested the instructors can show in slow motion how to use a few of the forms for self defence, which is great fun!

Especially for people of a certain age, discovering certain simple moves that could be used is exhilarating. Everything is done in slow motion, so people can relax and learn accuracy, before any idea of doing it faster.

And the first rule of tai chi as a martial art is ... run away! :)

Real real life stories from our instructors

A. I had got off the bus late at night to go down the street leading home,when I heard these footsteps. At first they were slow and distant, but then they gradually got closer and faster.

Instead of thinking or panicking, I found myself expanding like a prickly fierce balloon, ready to do something, anything, I didn't know what. I still hadn't turned round.

The footsteps slowed, hesitated, and started running away!

B. I was on duty at the nursery gate, welcoming parents with their kiddies, when this man turned up without a kid. He was staring past me and stood there for a long while, saying nothing, just staring.

I felt as though I had all the time in the world and was considering what move to do if he started anything. I just looked at him, feeling quite calm and unhurried, just thinking about what I might do, and smiling gently.

Eventually he sort of snorted, turned and went away.

Both those stories have been about having the right attitude to avoid a confrontation – avoidance is always better than fighting.

C. When I used to teach, every so often someone would turn up to give a “stranger danger” talk... on this occasion it was two burly policemen. So there we were, 120 kids and their teachers, and these two telling the kids they shouldn't turn their backs on strangers in case they would get caught up in a bear hug, then bundled off.

To the joy of the kids, they demonstrated on several willing kid volunteers, even picking some up and swinging them round, as the kids laughed. Then one of the policemen said something like “no-one can get out of this bear hug, not adults, not even your teachers”.

       Well... I couldn't resist an invitation like that! :) I stood up, went up to the front where they were – they looked a bit startled... I said, “you said no-one

 could get out of that, not even teachers, so let's just show the kids that's true.” By this time the kids were all sniggering softly, as they guessed what was coming, knowing me as they did.

Anyway, the burliest of the two policemen got me in a bear hug, so I just shifted my weight – at which I suddenly realised how I could turn the move into a pile-driver, which was a bit surprising as I hadn't envisaged doing a throw of any sort, but I turned the move into one where the policeman had no choice except to land his stomach on my elbow – his “OOF” could be heard all the way to the back of the hall!