Racewalking and Tai Chi

Racewalking and Tai Chi

“Taiji has enriched my life and improved my resilience immensely. I am grateful to Leo for all the help and guidance he has given me” shares Barbara Nell, a World Champion Racewalker.

Barbara Nell in action

Barbara has been racewalking for over 25 years, and covered a distance of some 50 000 km’s during this time. She trains on both road and track, and has worked with many coaches over the years – each contributing in their way her preparation and technique. This had lead her to achieve world records and to winning championships.

Some of her impressive achievements include:

  • the first woman in Africa to walk a 20km in under 1:50
  • held the All Africa record for the 20km women’s walk
  • has won SA Senior Track and Field Championships 4 times
  • won the SA Road Walk senior Championships 5 times
  • attended 11 World Masters Athletics Championships
  • has been the World Champion in her age group 14 times
  • won 4 silver and 3 bronze medals from these competitions
  • competed in team events and won WMAC gold medals, silver and a bronze Medal
  • in 2000 set the W45-49 5000m racewalk World Record with a time of 24:14
  • set 4 SA Senior records, and 18 SA Masters records
  • won her age group races at the South African Masters National Championships 33 times
  • won SA Masters Provincial Championships 47 times.

As part of her development in strengthening and maintaining her muscles needed for racewalking, Barbara supplements her training with tai chi and works with a biokineticist.

“In 2009, I was injured and my Physiotherapist recommended taiji to help me build strength and improve my balance in order to avoid further injury. I have worked with Leo since that time.

Firstly, it has been great to do taiji as a complete contrast to my other training which is time or distance based. The sense of being in the present while doing the movement with no immediate objective in sight is very fulfilling. Doing Taiji has definitely enhanced my muscle strength and improved my balance which has been advantageous to my race walking.

Secondly, there is so much wisdom in this ancient practice as the entire body is worked and strengthened by the many graceful movements during a morning’s session.

She is also very much aware of her mindset, and finds that learning from her failures, not letting her walking define her, and having fun while training and competing, are also key parts of her success.

Recently she attended the World Masters Athletic Championships in Perth in October and November 2016. This event included more than 4000 competitors from some 80 countries between the ages of 35 to 97 competing in 31 events.

Barbara, on the podium after the 10km with the Australian Barb Bryant 2nd and the British Walker Cath Duhig 3rd.

Barbara participated in the Race walks in the 5000m track event, the 10km road walk and the 20km road walk in the Women 60-64 age group, where she won the 5000m and 10km walks and got the silver medal in the 20km.

Together with Lucia Willemse (W60-64) and Elsa Meyer (W70-74), they made up the South African team and they won the silver medal in the team event for the 10km (W 60-64) and the gold medal in the 20km (W60-64).

We agree with Barbara that “walking is a healthy lifestyle activity and one of the best forms of exercise” as she shared in the November/December edition of the SA Racewalking Newsletter. She further imparted that she “feels that individual endurance sport is a great teacher. She has learnt many life lessons from walking and competing. ‘In the end you are racing against yourself and trying to be the best that you can be. The most important thing for me is that it must be fun. I walk because I love it.’ ”

We commend Barbara on her achievements, and her multi-disciplinary approach to her training. May the grace and wisdom from the practice of taiji continue to give her the inner and physical strength to persist in being the inspiration she is to us, and to so many others.

 

To find out how tai chi can help you excel in your chosen sport, contact your Sifu, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

“Taiji has enriched my life and improved my resilience immensely. I am grateful to Leo for all the help and guidance he has given me” shares Barbara Nell, a World Champion Racewalker. Barbara has been racewalking for over 25 years, and covered a distance of some 50 000 km’s during this time. She trains on …

Johannesburg Tai Chi Retreats

Johannesburg Tai Chi Retreats

Sifu Leo holds retreats in Johannesburg often, where the focus is on the practice of qigong and taiji, while relaxing and centering oneself in beautiful surroundings, eating wholesome food.

As tai chi practitioner Ashley describes his experience of the retreats:

Push hands exercise demo at Tai Chi RetreatOur Tai Chi retreat is a beautiful way to escape from the demands of everyday life, and experience an uplifting and inspirational weekend cocooned in a lovely setting.

The weekend unfolds in the spirit of Tai Chi – no rush, no deadlines, no bootcamp mentality. Instead, genuine connections with like-minded friends, delicious relaxing meals, philosophical discussions, swimming, gong meditation. Oh, and some Tai Chi too!

I come away feeling grounded and centred, my body supple, my mind clear, and my spirit free.

Retreat Highlights

Sifu also brings new aspects to each retreat, like guest speakers and creative ways to learn about the philosophy of tai chi.

In the most recent retreat in October 2016, Sifu held one of the sessions in the swimming pool, to emphasise the learning of flow and resistance.  It was not only refreshing in the summer heat, but gave students an experience of weightlessness and groundedness at the same time.

Benefits of Tai Chi Retreats

Tai Chi retreats are tailored for the students who participate, and so are for all levels of tai chi, from beginners to advanced.  The focus is on foundation building, on key concepts in tai chi, and on technique.  From this base Sifu builds to the level of the group, including:

  • Beginners get a strong foundation, further getting in touch with themselves and their bodies. Their  left and right hand co-ordination improves; developing more neural muscular signals and helping integrate mind and body.
  • Those with injuries, scoliosis, arthritic conditions benefit from retreats for therapeutic reasons, and the learning the useful exercises.
  • And those more advanced in taiji, improve their body alignment, perfect the foundation skills, aligning their technique with the correct breathing, and gain refinement of their taiji moves, both mentally and physically.

To attend the next Tai Chi Retreat in Johannesburg, see our Events Page or contact your Sifu, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

Sifu Leo holds retreats in Johannesburg often, where the focus is on the practice of qigong and taiji, while relaxing and centering oneself in beautiful surroundings, eating wholesome food. As tai chi practitioner Ashley describes his experience of the retreats: Our Tai Chi retreat is a beautiful way to escape from the demands of everyday life, and …

Tai chi Retreat in Magaliesburg, Johannesburg

Tai chi Retreat in Magaliesburg, Johannesburg

By Ralph Whittal

Tai Chi has been part of my life for the past six months or so. I have found it to be beneficial and I could not imagine a life without my weekly Tai Chi routine. Some of the benefits for me have included centering and grounding of my thoughts and it has also helped me to find balance in my life.

Tai Chi Retreat at Melody HillI’m very much a Tai Chi beginner and went on my first Tai Chi retreat in the last week of October 2016. I immediately fell in love with the Melody Hill retreat centre. It’s such an idyllic venue and I found myself instantly connected to the natural environment. I loved the surrounding gardens with the variety of birds singing from up above in the branches and enjoyed my early morning walks and reading under the trees whilst taking in all of that fresh early morning air.

On the first day of the retreat we had a talk by Dr. Danny Pillay, chairman of Homeopaths South Africa, who also practices traditional Chinese medicine and accupunture. The talk really increased my awareness of how important it is to look after the body and how effective disciplines like yoga and Tai Chi are. They are so beneficial to improving overall health and quality of life.

sword form of Tai chiDuring the weekend we got to practice the kun wern chien sword form, a first for me. I found it exciting, as being a beginner I had not done any sword form work before.

I spent some time watching and admiring all the participants practicing whilst trying to learn part of the sequence. I received some much-needed instruction from Leo, our Sifu, and members of the group who were so eager to help and spend time with me.

We also did some Tai Chi in the swimming pool which was a lot of fun. I discovered that being in the pool helped to make the experience of the “flowing” that one should experience outside the pool while doing Tai Chi, much more accessible and tangible.

 

On the Sunday we entered the yoga studio for some gong therapy. A gong is an eastern instrument which creates sounds that allow one to find that peaceful place in the conscious mind, needed to attain or to enter a dreamlike or meditative state.

Push hands at Tai Chi RetreatThis was such an enlightening experience for me. I was amazed at how I could access parts of my conscious mind in order to bring out more of an awareness and attunement to my life and even managed to access and work through some subconscious material that has been on my mind for some time now.

I looked forward to meal times and spending time with the group socializing. The food was so tasty, wholesome and good. The centre provides many things to keep one busy and in the evenings, I discovered the art of colouring-in with books and pencils scattered around the social area. I found this to be such a relaxing and therapeutic Push hands exercise demo at Tai Chi Retreatexperience, I can recommend it.

I did some swimming in the pool to cool off from the summer heat over the weekend and practiced a little backstroke whilst enjoying the socializing done with friends from the group who were cooling off with me.

The Tai Chi weekend away was an enjoyable and beneficial experience for me and I can’t wait to sign up for the next one in the new year.

 

 

For more info on future retreats, see our Events Page or contact your Sifu, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

Tai Chi retreat under the walnut trees

By Ralph Whittal Tai Chi has been part of my life for the past six months or so. I have found it to be beneficial and I could not imagine a life without my weekly Tai Chi routine. Some of the benefits for me have included centering and grounding of my thoughts and it has …

Dr Helen Didcott on Tai Chi and Healing in today’s world

Dr Helen Didcott on Tai Chi and Healing in today’s world

Dr Helen Didcott says she tries to keep herself balanced through Tai Chi, which she has practiced for 20 years, many of those years as a student of Mings Martial Arts Academy.  She shares in this podcast about “Healing in today’s world” about the similarities between tai chi and homeopathy; and it’s benefits, like how it helps us find balance, peace, and an awareness of our body and it’s energies, from the macroscopic to the microscopic.

For more info on tai chi in general, and taiji classes in Johannesburg, contact your Sifu, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468

Dr Helen Didcott says she tries to keep herself balanced through Tai Chi, which she has practiced for 20 years, many of those years as a student of Mings Martial Arts Academy.  She shares in this podcast about “Healing in today’s world” about the similarities between tai chi and homeopathy; and it’s benefits, like how it helps us …

Tim Ferriss talks about Tai Chi and Martial Arts

Tim Ferriss talks about Tai Chi and Martial Arts

Tim Ferriss is most well known for his books “The Four Hour Work Week” and more recently, “The Four Hour Body” and “The Four Hour Chef.”  He also has a great podcast show, interviewing high performers.

In his one episode he talks with Chef Joshua Skenes who is famous for his use of fire in his restaurants.  Joshua has also been practicing tai chi and martial arts for many years.   Tim and Joshua talk about:

  • the benefits of tai chi for health and rehabilitation and developing connective tissue,
  • about power versus resistance,
  • why Joshua practices this martial arts daily,
  • applicable martial arts,
  • being immovable with intention in the mind and body,
  • and hence how come even Tim has considered taking up tai chi.

Joshua also mentions one of his most recommended books, being: “The Dao of Taijiquan: Way to Rejuvenation” written by Tsung Hwa Jou.  Joshua mentions how Jou, at the age of 40, started tai chi to help heal from cancer, and went on to become a renowned expert in the field.  The book has many epiphanies about taijiquan, and explains it health benefits.

To hear Tim and Joshua’s conversation, click here and go to these parts:

  • Most gifted books, including “The Dao of Taijiquan: Way to Rejuvenation”  [53:50]
  • Discussing the value of tai chi, martial arts and becoming an immovable mountain [1:05:57 to 1:17:27]

 

For more info on tai chi in Johannesburg, contact your Sifu, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468

Tim Ferriss is most well known for his books “The Four Hour Work Week” and more recently, “The Four Hour Body” and “The Four Hour Chef.”  He also has a great podcast show, interviewing high performers. In his one episode he talks with Chef Joshua Skenes who is famous for his use of fire in his restaurants.  Joshua …

Testimonial about Karate Classes with Leo in Johannesburg

Testimonial about Karate Classes with Leo in Johannesburg

Karate for Children - success storySifu Leo Low Ming received this message from the father of his long time Karate students, Ben and Sam:

“Hi Leo,
Our family will head overseas for a year of living, schooling and working. We hope to be back thereafter, ready for more of your classes. Many thanks thus far for your patience and skill as teacher to Ben and Sam. I know that they will miss your classes. We hope we can find a way to continue with karate classes over the coming year!
Regards,
Brian”

 

 

Just over a year later, in February 2016, Leo got this follow up email:

“Hope you are well?
Our family is still in London. This to let you know that Sam still inspired by you teaching, and continues his karate interests – selected for the Funakoshi Style Karate Squad South West 2016/17 season (kata and kumite techniques 8 & 9 year age group). Orange belt preceded by white, red, yellow grading).
Regards,
Brian”

Karate Awards for studenAnd again recently (March 2016), we heard that Sam has won some awards!

“2nd placing in Kumite and 3rd in Kata (age group 8) – he’s really enjoying it!
Brian”

We congratulate Sam for his achievements in being selected for this Squad in the United Kingdom, and his awards, and wish Sam all the best with his karate journey!

 

For more information about Karate Classes for Children in Parkview and Midrand, Johannesburg, contact Leo Low Ming on 0833780468

Sifu Leo Low Ming received this message from the father of his long time Karate students, Ben and Sam: “Hi Leo, Our family will head overseas for a year of living, schooling and working. We hope to be back thereafter, ready for more of your classes. Many thanks thus far for your patience and skill …