Finding a Dojo

Well I thought about Tai Chi. I researched and found classes in the 108 step form, the traditional one of the Taoist Tai Chi Society. I attended a class and remembered why I keep leaving Tai Chi.

Tai Chi is demanding, while appearing very easy. That’s why those little old Chinese women in the park on a sunny afternoon are so full of energy. They have been practicing it for years. The advocates will tell you that Tai Chi will regulate body weight, improve cognitive, lung, digestive and heart functioning as well as skin tone and bone structure. It helps people with back pain, and acts as a moving meditation to reduce anxiety. When I’m another fifteen years older I’ll probably go back to it again.

I remember the last time I studied it. That summer I tried playing badminton in a Tai Chi manner. It didn’t work. At this point in my life I need something younger.

As a child my father taught me boxing, and sent me to learn Judo. I learned that Judo is blind to a punch in the nose. As a teenager I tried Shotokan Karate. I didn’t stick at it. Years later I tried Gōjū-ryū karate. Then I moved. After I while I found a new school and tried it once more. I have my yellow belt twice, which is not as good as an orange belt.

It took me a while to realize that my problem with Karate was with Karate. I didn’t mind the fifty pushups and sit ups. I didn’t mind training with people half my age. That sharpened me up. Studying katas, and practicing kicks, block and blows that I never saw used in sparring, felt confusing.

This time around I vowed, no Karate. Besides, I’m older, slower and stiffer. I want something my stiff old body could use if I needed to get myself out of trouble. The ads for Krav Maga, and at first it looked perfect. A system designed for self-defense.

I researched. Hmmm. I had a feeling it would include fifty pushups and sit ups. I looked at clips on YouTube presenting various tactics. I agreed with their philosophy which was to get free and get gone when trouble approached. Then I watched a clip of how to defend against a robber with a gun. The robber stood holding the gun at arm’s length with one hand. Who does that? When the instructor got control of the gun he used a two hand grip. I did some research on the Web. Critics of Krav Maga didn’t say nice things.

A few years ago, I was stuck in Jacksonville Beach for a couple of months. I found a little dojo in something called Wing Chun. Now that’s a Southern (Chinese) form of Kung Fu that was originally developed to allow the weak to protect themselves from the strong. I took a couple months of classes while my engine was repaired. I liked it. Well I liked much of it.

Wing Chun is Chinese boxing. It puts the emphasis on relaxation, centerline, and balance. The instructor described it as old man boxing. Best of all, I was not expected to kick anyone in the head. I didn’t have to do all that stretching.

I’ve found a couple of schools that teach Wing Chun around me. Next week I’ll take a look at them and see which one fits better. Evidently there are eleven different types or branches of Wing Chun. I have no idea what I’ll find.

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