Whether learning something new, or practicing it for many years, there is such value in focusing one’s efforts for an extended period of time on that activity.
Retreats offer just that kind of opportunity, and so the tai chi retreats offered by Mings Martial Arts is a yearly, and sometimes even bi-yearly, event, for those students wanting to deepen their practice.
This year’s retreat in September was enjoyed by a range of students, who came to not only learn more about martial arts, but also get away for a weekend from the hustle and bustle of daily city life, and enjoy some tranquil time in the pecan nut orchard, amongst nature.
There was a mix of favourites like the Short Form, and the qigong exercises, which feel powerful under blue skies, with fresh air and birds singing, and the loving dogs of the Melody Hill Retreat Centre joining in the energy. Even the young cat felt playful, exploring the lines of students breathing and moving as they connected to their chi.
Sifu Leo Ming taught a new Broad Sword form, affectionately dubbed by the students the “Melody Mings Form”, which he choreographed. It is a short, feisty form that challenged and brought laughter from the students.
Sifu also had the students balance water bottles on their heads, which brought a most useful awareness to the energy bow lines and body posture, that is developed during tai chi forms.
For Brenda, this quote best sums up the retreat weekend:
“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” – WB Yeats
“Dear Sifu… had a day to reflect on the wonderful retreat we had. The new broad sword form is beyond incredible. Poetry in motion… aggressive powerful majestic riveting…. The company was wonderful… The location manifesting nature’s rebirth flowering into a beautiful young foal on the farm next door. I’ve grown as a person through the experience. Thank you, Tony”
Ralph added his thoughts:
“The tai chi weekend is always a highlight during the year for me. I always look forward to practicing the new forms and improving on sections of the ones I have some familiarity with. It is also a great opportunity to socialize and spend time with my fellow tai chi class mates. The setting is also wonderful and I find it very relaxing and contemplative and one just feels so much closer to nature with all the bird calls to listen to and with the opportunity to take the odd walk between the pecan nut trees.
The new sword form that Sifu has taught us is magnificent and so graceful and I can’t wait to practice more with my new broad-sword. Thinking back, I think the highlight for me was the exercise of attempting to balance the water bottle on one’s head while attempting the short form. This practice immediately highlights so many of the teachings with respect to balance, posture and flexibility. All I can say is that I’m glad the bottle was filled with still water and not carbonated as it may have burst with all the times it went crashing to the floor. 😊”
With scrumptious, healthy vegetarian food shared amongst old and new friends around the wooden, long tables, and the ample down time to read and reflect, everyone enjoyed the weekend and got to recharge, ready to head back to city life.
Will you join us at next year’s retreat?
Contact Sifu Leo Ming to find our more information about upcoming Tai Chi Retreats in Johannesburg, by calling 0833780468.
(Photos courtesy of Brenda and Tony)