T’ai Chi! A talk with Amiram Shabelman

Interview with Amiram Shabelman

Amiram doing Chi Cong

Judih: I’m speaking with Amiram who is a participant in the T’ai Chi sessions conducted by teacher Doron Lavie. Please introduce yourself.

Amiram: Shalom. I’m Amiram from Kibbutz Nir-Itzhak. At the moment I work as the Kibbutz driver.

J: When did you discover T’ai Chi?

A: Actually I began by participating in a course in Martial Arts offered by the Eshkol Community Council, led by Moshe Galisko, about 15 years ago.  There were about 7 of us from my Kibbutz who came regularly, but after about a year, the course was no longer given.  So, we brought Galisko to the kibbutz and continued to practice for a few more years until that broke up as well.

One of us, Eran Florentyne, went to Kibbutz Nir-Oz, to try T’ai Chi with Doron Lavie.

After one time, he knew that he had to bring us all with him!

J: And what is it about T’ai Chi that grabbed you?

A: I liked the pleasant music and the soft, relaxed movements. In Karate, we were always working hard and my joints were aching.  With T’ai Chi this never happened! The opposite – by the end of the lesson, I was filled with energy, strength.  Never tired.  It offered a combination of sport, meditation and health!

J: When was this?
A: It was about 14 years ago.

J: What does T’ai Chi do for you?

A: First, I begin the morning by practicing Chi Cong and T’ai Chi. I wake up an hour before the children and practise outside in the summer months, or  indoors in the winter, and the day begins with relaxation. This has really improved my health.  While driving I practice my breathing. This brings me the inner quiet and the patience I need to deal with all kinds of people. It becomes integrated into my life – enabling me to serve others with courtesy.

J: Could you recommend T’ai Chi to everyone?

A: Yes, it suits every age at every level. Perhaps less with little children. I work with them during school vacations but they really need something which allows them to release their considerable energy. T’ai chi is fine for a few sessions but it might bore them to study it more seriously.

J: How old were the children?

A: Grades 1 -3. I work with quite a large group and they really enjoy it.  They always ask when we’re going to do T’ai Chi again.

J: Do you have any recommendations as to how best to work with children? What works well for them?

A: First, you have to stay relaxed, not excited at every child who tries to disrupt. You keep working and eventually that child will join in. For a few years, I have been working with a special needs child. At the beginning, he didn’t speak to me, not one word.  Today he chats with me about everything, he’s interested in so many subjects. During kibbutz holidays, he sits beside me, and I really enjoy his curiousity and interest.

J: And this is through T’ai Chi.

A: Yes, he tells me that T’ai Chi has really been a good influence, and that in school, before exams, he does some Chi Cong in order to relax. He can’t understand why his parents  don’t do it, as well!

J: You didn’t suggest it – he realized it by himself?

A: Yes, on his own.

I also have a group of pensioners and other adults.  I work with them once a week doing Chi Cong and then T’ai Chi. As soon as I receive my diploma, I plan to open up this group to others on the Kibbutz and in the area.

I am studying Chi Cong with Nira Rabinowitz on Broshim Campus, of the University of Tel Aviv and will be certified and am now studying Advanced Chi Cong for Healthy living. I hope to develop the practice in this area

J: Has the study influenced your food choices? Or other aspects of your life?

A: I’ve never gotten into health food. I eat moderately from all food choices.  But, in general, sport is very important to me.  For example, I have a home gym for more intense work-outs.

J: So what I hear is that Chi Cong and T’ai Chi give you the inner strength, the patience and energy to work with people who might present challenges.

A: Also I get a lot of satisfaction when I see how others benefit from practicing Chi Cong and T’ai Chi.  Often after a session, they’ll come to me and tell me how good they feel.

J: Great! Is there anything that you would  like to add?

A: Yes! After the Jewish Holidays, I am intend to start a new Course in Chi Cong and it will open to people from all over the Eshkol area.  This way, I’ll be able to  work at my beloved hobby while bringing in some income to the Kibbutz.

J: Good luck and thank you very  much, Amiram.

Link: Amiram speaks in Hebrew here

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