Deep breathing, slow movement, and good balance are primary elements of Tai chi chuan.
A soft style Chinese martial art, tai chi is taught all over the world using both traditional and modern training. It uses soft martial techniques and promotes health and longevity.
On Lopez, Jerry Dupuis teaches two tai chi classes every Wednesday morning in Woodmen Hall, instructing a total of 30 students in the martial art. The class is for all ages, but quite a few senior citizens participate. “It really helps them to keep limber and keep moving and helps with their balance,” said Dupuis.
Dupuis learned tai chi in the Navy during the Vietnam war while stationed on an aircraft carrier. At sea for many months, a man from the Philippines taught a group of the sailors, and by the end of his voyage Dupuis had learned the basic long and short form. He has modified the short form for the seniors in his classes, making the movements less deep.
Dupuis has seen dramatic mobility changes in some of his students. “Tai chi keeps the joints, tendons, and ligaments flexible. The goal for the seniors is to keep flexibility in our lives.”
Dupuis began teaching tai chi on Lopez in 2002, and a core group of six students have been participating for four years. “They’re still faithful.” Terry Marshall is one of those six and is currently in the advanced class. “I do it because I love it. It’s good for me spiritually, mentally, and physically,” said Marshall.
Each class includes meditation, and the advanced students have progressed to a full 20 minutes. “It’s one of the hardest exercises: divorcing yourself from the mundane tasks we have to do in the day. A lot of people in the advanced class are able to do it well,” remarked Dupuis.
Dupuis and his wife Sharon are moving off the island in September, and Marshall will be taking over instruction of his classes. During the month of May only, there will be a combined beginners and advanced class starting at 9 a.m. (class runs for 45 minutes). Starting in June and throughout the rest of summer, beginners meet at 9 a.m. and advanced is at 10 a.m. The group will continue to meet in Woodmen Hall until warmer weather when they will practice outside, possibly on the lawn of Lopez Center.
Anyone is welcome to attend the free classes. Call Jerry Dupuis at 468-4709 for additional information.