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Tim Birch on the grace and power of Tai Chi as it hits Manchester

Tim Birch on the grace and power of Tai Chi as it hits Manchester

Published on July 26th 2007.


Tim Birch on the grace and power of Tai Chi as it hits Manchester

Stop your smoothies, junk your juices, lose your lemon in hot water and, definitely, ditch your coffee. The latest wake up craze is here. Say good morning to Tai Chi. All this week, Master Liming of Manchester's own Tai Chi Centre has been running free classes at Urbis. There might still bel time to drop in (and out) on Friday, from 8am to 8:45am, otherwise you can . And you can wear your work clothes -indeed that's the point: avoid the rush hour; chill with tai chi.

And don't fret, this is isn't a ploy to help China take over the world. Indeed the 'free week' idea was initiated by Urbis. "Urbis contacted our centre," says Master Liming, "to do some activities. I sent Aamir [a student of Liming's and a basic instructor in his own right] to do some demonstrations. They were quite happy and tried to organise more."

Master Liming is a man on a mission right now: "Free exercise for everybody in Manchester." Everybody? "Yes, tai chi is for everybody. Anybody can do it. All are welcome." Catch the deal while it lasts. It's actually an unbelieveable deal: Liming is a highly sought-after figure in the martial arts world. The graceful yet powerful movements of this master's syle, Chen, will surprise many. In Liming, Tai Chi, can no longer be the butt of jokes (oldies waving their arms around in slow-motion). Watching Liming's dynamic demo, you can sense the self-defence capability of this combat art. As Liming says, "small forces can have big effects [pictured]." But it's health that the quietly spoken Liming seems concerned with.

Morning tai chi is big in China. "Millions do this in China every morning," Liming confirms. "Back home in China most people believe that exercise in the early morning is the most efficient in maintaining the body's health." It's an interesting point that becomes downright compelling. "If you exercise in the morning then rest of the day: nothing. But in this country it's the opposite. Everybody is trying to do something in the afternoon or evening. And in the morning not many people do anything really." Ah, pure clarity and true wisdom from 'the master'.

So Mancunians are encouraged to join in as a health benefit: "Just do some exercise in the morning -just for good times and keep fit. And also you can avoid the traffic -come early to the city, exercise and then go to the office."

If you miss this free week, the master's centre runs weekly classes in Manchester (plus weekend seminars around Europe and summer tours of China -going where most packages will never reach). This year is no exception and Liming will be touring China through August ahead of resuming his classes in Manchester this September. "This year we have over 100 people coming to China," says Liming who's hired three coaches for the group to travel in convoy. "And next year we are going twice because August, we can foresee, will be too busy because of the Olympics."

Ah yes, Beijing 2008. A massive boost for Tai Chi which along with Wushu (for both styles read kung fu) will be a demonstration sport and enjoy global TV exposure. So will Tai Chi prove to be the next big thing? If so, I hope it will outlast the fad stage. The benefits of practising tai chi -long term- are evident if Liming's anything to go by: a 'middle aged' man who could easily pass as a spritely 20-something.

The free week culiminate on Friday 27 July 2007 (Cathedral Gardens or inside Urbis' spacious foyer if it's raining), 8am-8:45am. The usual weekly classes resume at Manchester's Tai Chi Centre from September 2007.

Chen Style Tai Chi Centre
Milner Street off Ayres Road
Old Trafford, M16 9NH
General Enquiries, info@taichicentre.com
Centre and Shop, +44(0)161-2737138 and 3420186 (evening)
Web: http://www.taichicentre.com

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