Free intro to t’ai chi classes offered

Dr. Alton Kanter and Janey Kanter of the Kaua‘i School of T’ai Chi Chuan are giving free, introductory classes and demonstrations in each location where a new, beginners’ class series is scheduled to begin soon, they said in a press release.

They are professional teachers and founders of the Kaua‘i School of T’ai Chi Chuan.

They have also been students of t’ai chi chuan themselves for over 33 years, and have taught as a team since 1980.

The Kaua‘i school is an affiliate of The New York School of T’ai Chi Chuan, a training center for t’ai chi teachers that maintains facilities in eight locations around the world.

On Thursday at 5 p.m. at Kula Elementary School in Kilauea, the free class will introduce by way of a demonstration class, the Yang Style Short Form.

A 12 class series will begin the following week, May 11, at the same time and place.

On Saturday at 8 a.m. a similar, free, introductory program of the Yang Style Short Form will be held at the Lihue United Church parish hall behind King Auto Center.

A 12 class series will begin the following week, May 13, at the same time and place.

Members of the public are invited to both free demonstration classes.

The Kanters emphasized that these are classes for beginners, and are suitable for persons of all levels of fitness. They are not competitive.

Kanter advised that, while t’ai chi chuan is “one of the great series of Asian martial arts, the emphasis of these classes is on the health aspects of the study.”

T’ai chi is an integral part of classical Chinese medicine, along with acupuncture, diet, herbs, massage and meditation.

“The central idea of Chinese medicine is the understanding that all essential functions of body/mind/spirit are reflections of the harmony and balance of the vital life energy known since ancient times as ‘chi,’” he said in the release.

This vital life energy can be modified, enhanced and balanced externally by acupuncture, and internally by an individual’s own actions, such as the practice of t’ai chi chuan, Kanter states.

“An accumulation of chi can be added to the ‘storehouse of energy’ through the breathing patterns associated with the regular practice of t’ai chi,” he said in the release.

Benefits Kanter cited deriving from the “slow, continuous movements of the body in space and an expanding capacity for self observation” are relaxation of muscle tension (“deep and continuing”) and regulation of breathing patterns.

The calming effect works on the mind, and promotes wellness. Kanter emphasized that these are the essential elements that are necessary for dealing with what he considers an epidemic of stress-induced illness and dysfunctional behavior.

Other benefits are that the joints become more flexible, and legs are strengthened, he states.

“Balance and stability are greatly improved, so that we become more secure in our movements, something quite vital as we age.”

In recent years, a vast amount of research has accumulated attesting to the many health benefits of practicing t’ai chi.

Often mentioned are the beneficial affects on heart and circulatory problems; arthritic conditions; high blood pressure; mental sharpness and loss of balance in aging.

More than anything, though, the affect of the processes of stress and the multitude of health problems caused by stress and benefited by t’ai chi is most profound, he said.

Those at the Kaua‘i School of T’ai Chi Chuan will soon offer an expanded program to present various health and wellness trainings, with a primary focus on powerfully effective ways to manage stress without becoming dependent on powerful drugs that often have debilitating side effects.

Public presentations on the nature of Chinese medicine are also planned.

For more information, interested individuals may call 828-1139.

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