J: You come to T’ai Chi in Nir-Oz. How did you discover T’ai Chi?
Zohar: Through Mickey from my kibbutz. The truth is I thought about it a lot for a long time, but just procrastinated until I finally asked him about it. He told me that it would be great if I’d come.
The truth is that I was searching for some form of exercise to help me, because my back is not in great condition and many exercises do more harm than good. With Ta’i Chi I felt that this was what I needed, from the point of view of my health.
Judih: Nice. When was it that you decided to come?
Zohar: About 2 years ago, in January, 2011.
Judih: From the moment you began, what grabbed you, what attracted you to T’ai Chi?
Zohar: These are exercises that I can do. They’re not complicated. And I hope to be able to keep on way past my 80s.
Judih: That shouldn’t be a problem!
Zohar: In things like Feldenkrais and other forms of movement, I felt that I couldn’t do the exercises or that they were doing me harm. Here, I really liked the warm-up exercises and the Chi Cong. I like T’ai Chi a little less. But I stay mostly for the first part of the session.
I don’t relate to the martial arts aspect, I don’t really understand how the movements relate to warfare against an opponent. Since I danced for many years, I relate to the movements themselves.
Judih: Tell me, have you looked into the philosophy of T’ai Chi?
Zohar: No, not really. At the beginning, I searched on the Net to get some background, but not more than that. In fact, until two months ago, I only practiced during our weekly Tuesday evening lessons. But for the last two months, I’ve been doing the exercises every morning: the warm-up and some Chi Cong.
Judih: Excellent. Do you feel that this has helped you health-wise?
Zohar: Absolutely. First of all, I couldn’t stand! I have a slipped disc and I really couldn’t stand on my feet for any length of time. Now with our static Chi Cong (standing in one place), I can actually stand, for a long time!
Secondly, I feel that it helps me in work. It helps my mind, I’m more able to concentrate.
Judih: Has this changed since you began to practice every morning?
Zohar: No, this happened from the very beginning. It works on focus. I’ve worked on this from many different directions and I believe that this is what is really helping me. I need to make myself keep at it, because I know myself and it’s hard for me to stay with something.
Judih: You’ve said so many positive things about T’ai Chi. Can you elaborate? When you sit and work, how do you find that it has helped you?
Zohar: I’m an accountant and the branch coordinator. Along with that, I coordinate Information networks. That means that I have to know a lot and remember many fine details. I simply feel that I’m better able to do my work. I can feel it.
Judih: Do you feel more able to concentrate?
Zohar: Yes, most definitely.
Judih: Would you recommend T’ai Chi to everyone?
Zohar: Yes, and to all ages.
Judih: Great. Do you have any other comments you’d like to add?
Zohar: Yes. I also enjoy the people who come here to do T’ai Chi. The atmosphere is warm and free from judgement. You can make mistakes and it’s fine. I got here after others had already been doing it for 10 years and it’s fine! People are very pleasant.
Judih: Thank you, Zohar. When you’re 80 and I’m 100, we’ll meet and discuss this further!
Zohar: One more thing. I know it’s highly recommended for improving balance and I’m encouraging my mother (who’s in her 80s) to do the exercises of Chi Cong.
Judih: Yes, others have spoken about how their own sense of balance improves immediately after doing the exercises and in general. You make a good point. Thank you, Zohar!