Want to go?
• WHAT: Tai Chi & Qigong Day
• WHEN: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. April 30
• WHERE: Memorial Lake Shelter No. 1 at Norwalk Reservoir, Old State Road, Norwalk
• COST: Free
• INFO: 419-663-6700
Tai Chi is something that most folks can admit to having heard of before, but don’t necessarily know the exact definition. No, it’s not something you’ll find on a menu at your favorite Chinese restaurant. If you order Tai Chi Chicken with a side of rice, you’re bound to get a few looks. Also, Tai Chi isn’t an abbreviation for rock band The Academy Is... or the charitable Catholic Health Initiatives.
No, Tai Chi is defined as an internal Chinese martial art practiced for both defense training and health benefits. In the states it’s mostly the latter, which leads us to the global World Tai Chi and Qigong Day. Around the world people will take part in the celebration and share pictures on WorldTaiChiday.org.
Locally, the event is scheduled for April 30 at Memorial Lake Shelter No. 1, located at the north end of the Norwalk Reservoir. “This has been going on and growing for over 10 years,” said Tai Chi and Qigong instructor Tom Lesniewski, an Indiana native and Norwalk resident. “It’s to make people aware of the health and healing benefits of Tai Chi and Qigong. For eight years I’ve been participating in it with my classes at Norwalk Rec Center and also up at Sandusky at Harmony in Health.”
The purpose of this day is simple: to educate the world of the profound health and healing benefits of Tai Chi and Qigong. Qigong is the philosophy and practice of aligning breath, physical activity and awareness for mental, spiritual and corporeal health. Lesniewski stressed that both disciplines are different from the modern mindset of cardio and weightlifting workouts. That is, instead of “No pain, no gain,” the participants should never feel any discomfort when participating, thus allowing people of all ages, body types and mindsets to take part.
“Tai Chi is now taught primarily for the health benefits,” said Lesniewski, who has been involved in Tai Chi for 25 years. “It deals with a lot of stress reduction (and) relaxation. A lot of times people compare it to yoga, but that’s not really a fair comparison because whereas in yoga they hold static postures, Tai Chi is a continuously smooth flowing form and practice. Whereas in yoga there’s a little bit of stretching and tension involved, in Tai Chi we do want stretching but we do it in a non-strenuous means.”
And what exactly is Qigong?
“This is actually an older discipline that comes out of traditional Chinese medicine,” Lesniewski said. “In that system, there’s something called Qi. When you have good Qi and good Qi flow, then you have good health. And if that Qi flow is blocked or hindered in some way, then you don’t have good health. You start getting diseases and ill-health. So the purpose of Qigong are usually either static postures and there may not be a lot of movement involved, or there’s also some that are sort of meditative postures, which again are for releasing tension to promote the Qi flow in the body.”
Despite the fact more people know about Tai Chi and Qigong, Lesniewski laughed about the common misconception. “A lot of times what I’ll see is they’ll do a ‘Karate Kid’ move,” Lesniewski said. “I just usually laugh and smile and try to explain to them that’s not what we do. They’ll do that one-legged crane posture. Although we do that sort of posture, we don’t do it with the intent to strike or break things. It’s very slow moving and it’s beneficial for almost anybody that can do Tai Chi, even if they have medical problems.”
World Tai Chi & Qigong Day takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 30 at Memorial Lake Shelter No. 1, located at the north end of the Norwalk Reservoir off Old State Road in Norwalk. For more information, call 419-663-6700.
Lead art: Morning Tai Chi at Ritan Park, Beijing. PHOTO: (c) David J. and Linda A. Cornfield; exmsft.com.