Bruce Goodwin: Tai Chi and Skiing.March 2001 Meeting At The Belfry

by Norma Green

If you need an example of a fit sixty year old, you won't find many better than Bruce Goodwin. He has practised Tai chi and Chi Kung for fifteen years and taught them for ten.

Tai Chi is a sort of moving meditation derived from the ancient Chinese martial arts tradition. Without the need for aerobics, regular practice of the movements and postures of Tai Chi and Chi Kung will increase muscle strength and mobility and promote inner calm. The beneficial effects of Tai Chi have been recognised by some orthodox medical practitioners in the U.K. The Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield has introduced Tai Chi to supplement or replace physiotherapy with considerable success.

Bruce told us how the Chinese Communist regime swept away all that had gone before, only to realise that banning Tai Chi had an adverse effect on the health of the population as a whole. They then decided to reinvent a new style of Tai Chi and call it their own. Bruce demonstrated a sequence of beautiful, dynamic movements from the 3000 year old Chen Style. The audience was captivated.

Bruce is a climber, a mountaineer, and has even run a marathon. He says he is fitter and more supple now than when he was thirty. As well the obvious benefits of physical fitness, strength and flexibility, of particular use to skiers is the heightened body awareness and balance which come from regular practice. All sports are best tackled with a relaxed focus. Tai Chi can access this state, enabling you to shift weight slowly, moving from balance point to balance point.

Chi Kung is related to Tai Chi and uses postures and repeated movements to build strength and to achieve an inner calm. It is possible to develop, as a friend of Bruce's put it, "legs like flexible concrete, simply by standing still !"

Bruce's interests and therapeutic applications of his knowledge incorporate auto-suggestion and hypnosis. people treated in this way have reported remarkable improvements in confidence, their ability to respond to challenges, and even to fight illness. Typical self-talk might be "My memory works well today", or "I am calm". Bruce's favourite approach is known as the `Swish Technique`. The idea is, you think of what you want to change as being represented by a black and white, grainy image on a television screen. Down in the bottom corner of the screen is a white dot which you imagine expanding with a swish across the screen replenishing the picture with a bright, colourful view of what you want to achieve. You should do this five times daily, keeping to one thing at a time. Another technique is to imagine a corridor leading to a room on the right hand side called "The Healing Room". You should build the room in your mind how you want it. You might have a comfortable chair with a pleasant view. You might have a nurse or two giving you healing treatments. On a shelf, you might find "healthy knee tablets", which you imagine taking.

Bruce told of a reversal of the degenerative effects of arthritis (verified by X-rays) in a lady he knows who used this technique.

The members were invited to join in with a Chi Kung exercise to experience the effects.

A personal note from the author: I have practised Tai Chi myself and have found a remarkable similarity in the feelings of weight transfer and balance to skiing, as well as being of great benefit to my well-being. If you haven't tried it yet, I would wholeheartedly recommend you give it a try.

Bruce runs classes in Rochdale, Cheadle, Peel Moat (Stockport) and Romiley. For further details, you can ring him on 01706 868216.