By Bob Merikangas
Here at Riderwood, residents have facilities and staff to help them in their health and fitness activities, such as the Fitness Centers and the Wellness Studio. As reported in the August issue, a chair yoga class is held in the Village Square Music Room. There is also an opportunity to participate in Tai Chi, which people may not have known much about before moving here. The Fall 2018 catalog for the Prince George’s Community College SAGE Program describes the courses at Riderwood, and the Montgomery College Workforce Development & Continuing Education schedule lists the course “Tai Chi for Physical and Mental Wellbeing” at the Rockville Campus.
What is Tai Chi? What are some other opportunities to learn to practice it?
Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese martial art which was originally used for combat and self-defense, with or without weapons. In order to fight well, students had to train their strength, balance, flexibility, physical coordination, and ability to stay focused and calm in stressful situations. Many Tai Chi forms and exercises were developed by Tai Chi masters over hundreds of years. Yang style Tai Chi, which is taught at Riderwood, is the most popular, and is practiced by millions of people worldwide. Most people practice Tai Chi because they enjoy the graceful, flowing movements and the improvement in their balance and physical fitness. Medical studies have shown that it has many health benefits for older adults, especially fall prevention.
Marketa Ebert has been taking Riderwood Tai Chi classes since 2014. She has enjoyed Tai Chi so much she decided to study it in more depth. In addition to the Riderwood classes, she attends a Tai Chi studio in Takoma Park called Wu Shen Tao where she is learning Tai Chi sword forms and push hands – an exercise performed with a partner. The goal is to use Tai Chi principles to make the other person lose their balance. Recently she participated in the 30th International Kuo Shu Federation tournament in Hunt Valley, MD. She competed in intermediate Yang Tai Chi form, intermediate Tai Chi Sword and Limited Step Push Hands and received first place in all three. She is looking forward to competing in the advanced category next year! Marketa fills in as leader when Master Chang is not here for a session.