Monday, October 13, 2014

Sarasota’s Taoist Tai Chi Society Turns 20

Press Contact: Marylou Lindsay 
(941) 685-1374

On Saturday, Oct. 25, members of the Sarasota Branch of the Taoist Tai Chi Society of the USA will mark their center’s 20th anniversary with home-cooked food, Tai Chi demos, and speakers focusing on the health benefits of the ancient Chinese art.

The celebration comes at an especially propitious time, because the worldwide organization to which they belong will soon transform the historic waterfront Fenway Hotel in nearby Dunedin into its new U.S. headquarters and International Conference Center. To Tampa Bay’s 1,400 Taoist Tai Chi devotees, this will mean frequent access to the top international teachers and lecturers. If “movement is meditation,” as Taoist Tai Chi people like to say, this is “meditation with momentum.”

Tai Chi has been described as a martial art in slow motion. It comes in many forms, and recently has been developing broad appeal. Perhaps the fact that superstars like Jet Li and Keanu Reeves have lent their luster to Tai Chi films has helped spur interest. And last year Jack Ma, “China’s richest man” and founder of the founder the super-giant Internet firm Alibaba, started a Tai Chi school with Jet Li. People’s lives are too rushed and askew, he said, adding that Tai Chi helped him achieve tranquility and balance.

Whatever the impetus, the International Taoist Tai Chi Society now has more than 42,000 members in 26 countries.

What is Tai Chi? Well, that’s what Sarasotans will be able to see for themselves if they come out to the Oct. 25th celebration at the Sarasota center at 4101 S. Lockwood Ridge Rd., just south of Bee Ridge Rd.

Those who come will do more than just learn about it. They’ll see folks ranging from their late teens to their nineties doing portions or all of the 108 regular moves, as well as some special arts using swords and sabers. Visitors will be invited to participate and learn the opening steps.
Basically, Tai Chi is a set of walking moves that are performed slowly and mindfully; they combine a coiled intensity of motion with a tranquil poise that comes from being relaxed even during the most demanding stretches. If you are not relaxed, it is said, you are not really doing Tai Chi.

Ask a typical group what benefits they get from regular practice and you’ll hear a variety of responses -- better balance, greater internal calm, additional muscle strength and flexibility, better bodily confidence, clearer memory, and even better sleep. As the site puts it:
Learning to quiet the mind, even while moving through the Tai Chi set, lays a foundation for integrating the principle of stillness—and the recognition of our original nature—into our daily lives.
Another thing about Taoist Tai Chi people -- they love to cook, and regularly make delicious feasts of all kinds. The Oct. 25th celebration will be prepared by some of their best chefs.

What: Sarasota Branch 20th Anniversary Celebration
When: Saturday, Oct. 25, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Where: 4101 S. Lockwood Ridge Rd. (just south of Bee Ridge)
Expect: Food, Demos, Information and Conversations about health benefits.

Health benefits
  • Tai Chi burns calories: A typical session is about the equivalent, in terms of calorie burning, as an hour-long walk done at 3.5 mph.
  • Studies suggest that Tai Chi can help people with fibromyalgia and arthritis. Other published studies have shown a link between the practice of Tai Chi and improvements in symptoms of Parkinson's Disease and other chronic diseases.
  • Researchers from the University of California in Los Angeles recently found that seniors with a diagnosis of major depression were more likely to show improvement if they practiced Tai Chi in addition to taking anti-depression medication, compared with those who received the medication and received health education with stretching exercises.
History of the Sarasota Center
1994: Sarasota’s first Taoist Tai Chi classes were held two evenings a week at the Women’s Resource Center, then for several years at the VFW Hall on Tuttle Avenue.  
2003: The Society rented full-time space in the Gold Tree Plaza on Ringling Blvd, adding many more classes.

2010: The current S. Lockwood Ridge Road location was purchased in 2010. Classes are held there seven days a week, and at other part-time locations in Nokomis and Lakewood Ranch.
Instructors are nationally accredited, yet serve as volunteers. Participants come as often as they wish to practice the slow, balanced movements that promote good health and well-being. Many new students report feeling changes in their bodies in a matter of weeks.

The International Organization

The International Taoist Tai Chi Society is a collection of affiliated charitable or not-for-profit organizations whose worldwide headquarters are located near Orangeville, Ontario, Canada. The Taoist Tai Chi Society USA is a 501(c)3 charitable organization that oversees classes in about 30 states from its national center in Tallahassee, FL, which will be relocating to Dunedin.

The Society strives to help people of all ages and abilities regain and maintain good health through the practice of the Taoist Tai Chi internal arts of health. Other objectives include promoting cultural exchange, and helping others. The International Society was founded in 1970 by Moy Lin-shin, and it is his teaching that continues to give momentum to Taoist Tai Chi around the world.

Group photo of attendees at a recent workshop in Dunedin, FL