It’s the early morning Saturday runs that keep our minds clear…and in many ways allow us to hold dedicated space for our KTown community. We’ve added one more element of ease to weekends in LA with our guy Hakim, resident Tai Chi master, low-key style icon and expert steeper of loose leaf tea.
In a day and age where there’s so much to be distracted by, how can Tai Chi help?
“Tai Chi is like a moving meditation, it’s a moving meditation but it’s also a self-defense at the same time. The beautiful piece about it, is that you take time for yourself and that’s what Tai Chi really promotes. It promotes internal balance. In other circles we call it homeostasis, it’s bringing a perfect balance of your mind, body and spirit together.
Where it differs from other practices is that it’s really about free flowing. There are sequences and moves, but you’re free flowing through those sequences and moves. This is what enables you to meditate in motion.
The thing I really love about Tai Chi is that you are able to explore. There’s a gateway to miraculous and when you do Tai Chi you enter that gateway.”
Why did you get in to Tai Chi and how has it changed your life?
“Haha… So anyone who probably knew me twenty something years ago, knew that I was a little bit of a rude boy. Tai Chi was able to make me become a better human. It made me become more compassionate, it made me take time. That is one thing we so seldomly forget about. Tai Chi is about taking the time to do something. It made me embrace time management, taught me to relax, taught me to take time for myself, taught me to regenerate, revegetate everything in myself.
I went from being very quick tempered, very angry, to being very mild mannered, very soft. One of the principals is softness overcomes hardness. Tai Chi made me realize that time and time again.”
What makes it unique from other forms of martial arts?
“Tai Chi is probably one of the oldest martial arts out there. The tradition dates back to 1200bc. National Tai Chi day is April the 9th of every year and it’s celebrated because it’s the birthdate of Chang San Feng the grandfather of Tai Chi, born 1247. He was said to have been taught by the Taoist priests, he came from the Taoist mountains born from Taoist parents and was bathed in mysticism and mythological tales. He passed it down and taught the Wudang priests Tai Chi, which is supposedly the evolution of Tai Chi.
The essence of Tai Chi is bathed in the Yu Cheng or the I Ching which is the book of changes. The actual Tai Chi diagram is the Ying and the Yang.
The other piece is the five elements, or the element theory, which are earth, water, air, metal and fire. Tai Chi comprises of all those elements. So when you have a martial art that is rooted in so much tradition and so much philosophy as well as science and deep mysticism… It’s hard not to connect.
On top of it all, Tai Chi has the meditation piece. It bridged the gap when the Chinese were going through Africa and vice versa. Tai Chi was one of those arts that built a connection that blended the two cultures together.”
What are some of the mental and health benefits?
“Right now we live in an age of society where people are dependent on other faculties to get them through the day, mental stimulates, especially if you are going through anxiety or depression. Tai Chi is going to somewhat help you reverse.
Tai Chi will help by making you relaxed, give you a sense of purpose within yourself. Some feel a sense of validation within themselves, some self-determination and some self-motivation. It helps improve the aspects of lung capacity, blood control, body awareness, muscle recovery and overall breath control. Without breath you cannot do anything.
When you need something to bring you down, you go into a sense of Tai Chi to settle the mind and your presence in that moment of time.”
Talk us through one of your favorite moves.
“One of my favorite moves is single whip, single whip is a move that comes right after grasping the sparrows tale. What you basically do is move that energy around, expanding it, creating a vortex. It’s the precursor for everything Tai Chi, it brings balance.”
What is the ideal environment to do Tai Chi?
“Theoretically somewhere where there is a lot of nature, somewhere where there’s grass and trees, leaves and air is flowing. Realistically you can do Tai Chi anywhere. I had a teacher tell me you should study Tai Chi in close corners, like the bathroom, because in a martial arts aspect, you’ll never know when you will have to use it in self-defense.
Essentially anywhere where there is going to be good energy, anywhere where there is going to be an auspicious feeling and an auspicious space, you can cultivate and that is really key to the art. Tai Chi is all about cultivating.”
Zen out at our weekly Tai Chi class every Sundays at 11 am in the front drive at LINE LA with master Hakim Tafari. Free for guests and locals. Sign up at the Front Desk.