Tai chi a health-boosting hit for academy members

Members of the local tai chi group in Ufford

Members of the local tai chi group in Ufford - Credit: Archant

It may not have the high-flying kicks and karate chops of some martial arts – but the ancient Chinese technique of tai chi is proving a knockout among practitioners in Suffolk.

The Suffolk Tai Chi Academy was formed just two years ago in Ufford, near Woodbridge, to allow interested people low cost access to instruction.

When eight people turned up to the first session, organisers wondered if they would afford to hire the hall.

But the group has since blossomed to some hundred members, with six instructors teaching seven classes.

Ray Norris was the first instructor asked to join the academy by his friend, Julia Pallet, who had been showing her ladies’ group some tai chi moves.

He said: “Health and fitness to most people means how fast or far they can run or how heavy a weight can be lifted, or winning a sports match. But tai chi is health and fitness through flexibility, improved circulation, healthier internal organs, improved posture and balance, calmness and a lessening of work stress. In short, just feeling younger in all ways.

“Tai chi is a low impact activity and is designed to stretch the body in a natural way.

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“During practise, the muscles and tendons are alternately stretching and relaxing. That makes them flexible and joints become less stiff.

“Regular practice of tai chi has been found to help relieve the effects of stress, improve flexibility and balance, increase energy levels and promotes better sleep patterns. Class will help you listen to your body and understand how to use it.

“We would recommend tai chi to anyone who wishes to take control of the way their body moves and functions. It is for anyone who wishes to invest some time regularly to improve their fitness, health, movement, body functions, memory and spacial awareness.

“It will help you live life to the fullest and help to relax the mind. It is a great way to remain fit and active as we grow older reducing the need to use the NHS.”

Class fees cover hall hire, insurance and instructor travel costs, with free membership to under 25s at the academy’s Wednesday evening class.

The academy donates any remaining balance to charities, which in the last two years have included Dogs for the Disabled, MacMillan nurses and the Alzheimer’s Society.

A typical class meets weekly and usually comprises an hour of tai chi, followed by a social break for refreshment, then a further 30 minutes of practise. Classes are Monday morning and afternoon, Wednesday evening, Thursday evening and Friday afternoon. Weekly classes are held in Southwold and Witnesham.

Visit suffolktaichiacademy.uk for full details, email rayndawnnorris@gmail.com or call 07738 374901.

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