Published in the Warrandyte Diary, April 2013
WHILE walking along the Yarra River in Warrandyte on a Tuesday evening, you may notice a small group of people practicing a unique traditional Chinese sport called Tai Chi.
What few people realise is that the Warrandyte Tai Chi class is practicing the Fu style,
which, compared with other Tai Chi forms, Fu style involves more circular and spiraling movements.
It’s a branch of Tai Chi that few Australians have the opportunity to learn.
Instructor David Shepherd has been teaching Tai Chi in Warrandyte for about 20 years and estimated only a handful of others teach this unique style in Australia.
Ancient taoists living in China’s picturesque Wudang Mountains formed Tai Chi to improve overall health, become closer to the natural world and, as some theorists suggest, to protect themselves from bandits.
Fu Chen Song is famous for creating the Fu style by incorporating aspects of different Tai Chi forms he learned from some of China’s most notable Tai Chi practitioners.
David studied Fu style with a Chinese migrant living in Australia, who, as a boy, learned under the famous creator.
“In a sense I’m the next generation. Every teacher brings their own self expression to the style but there is a set of fundamental principals which you don’t stray from,” David says.
“One of Tai Chi’s underling theories is you don’t confront force with force – instead you attach yourself to that force then redirect it.”
Tai Chi offers a range of physical and mental health benefits, including improved sleep, blood circulation and core strength. Scientific studies show Tai Chi relieves stress and depression, while also making practitioners more resistant to illness.
“Tai Chi may look slow and relaxed on the outside but internally there’s a lot of activity going on in relation to the respiratory and circulatory systems,” David says.
One of David’s students, Penny Moore, says since beginning Tai Chi seven years ago, Tai Chi has improved her arthritis.
“It was pretty bad before I started but within six months of practicing Tai Chi I noticed a huge difference,” she says.
“But what I like most about Tai Chi is that you’re always learning something new and the classes are very social.”
Meanwhile, David said one of Tai Chi’s greatest benefits is that it helps people learn about life, how to profoundly relax and be “in harmony with nature”.
“Tai Chi is a skill, a sport that keeps you fit but there’s a whole other dimension where I’m trying to help people find a deeper meaning in their lives.”
Classes are held for all ages and skill levels at the Warrandyte Community Church on Tuesdays from 7.30pm.
Students refine their routines before progressing to more advanced forms where they use classical weapons, such as swords.
The class trains outdoors near the Yarra River during daylight savings to be in tune with Warrandyte’s natural ambience.
- To inquire about classes, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0438 452 744.