When we think of Tai Chi, we think of slow graceful movements – and, yes, you too can learn those slow moves in night classes across the country.
Master Charles Thackaberry is an experienced Tai Chi tutor and has been teaching Tai Chi since 1981. Today, he runs very successful night classes in Gorey Community School, Co. Wexford, right back where he started in the 1980s. “Classes became very popular during the Celtic Tiger years because people realised they needed to take care of themselves,” said Charles, who also runs classes in Dublin.
So, what is Tai Chi? An ancient Chinese tradition, it combines a series of slow continuous movements that flow into each other, meditation, and breathing exercises. “You tune into your body and mind,” said Charles, adding that, in today’s fast-paced world, people who are recovering from illnesses find it useful and busy people find it a great way to destress.
Charles himself came to Tai Chi as a fan of Bruce Lee when he was a teenager in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford. “I did Tae-Kwon-Do for a few years but was not into the fighting side of it. Then a friend of mine died and I felt like I had no tools to deal with it. I discovered Tai Chi and my teacher told me it was an art for living.
“It’s quite meditative and a lot of our students might come to us suffering from burnout – Tai Chi lets you recover and learn techniques so you can save yourself. It’s very relaxing and calms the mind and can really help with anxiety or physical and mental stress.” Charles also works with people with Down’s Syndrome who may not be able to verbalise stress.
“The exercises are geared towards the health side of things, and are ones that help with blood pressure, stroke and the mind.” By working at a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level, Tai Chi helps bring balance to a person’s body, mind and soul. “A lot of people who don’t sleep well say they always sleep well the night of the Tai Chi class!” said Charles.
In Gorey, the classes proved so popular than an additional night was added, bringing the number of classes available to people to four a week – two on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. “When I started classes in the 1980s, one of the first places that gave me a class was Gorey Community School under the adult education director then, Paddy Conway. It didn’t take off at the time, so it is great to see how Tai Chi is so popular now in Gorey.”