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Hong Kong Culture 1-0-1: Tai Chi 🎉

 Hong Kong is a bustling city with cramped housing, stressful living and air pollution. Early in the morning, the roar of traffic and rush of work commute begins, but in the heart of this urban jungle there are patches of green where the pace is decidedly slower and calmer. It’s typical to see groups of elderly people meeting for their morning exercise of Tai chi, an ancient Chinese practice said to have many benefits including improving balance, boosting cardiovascular strength and some say increasing longevity.

Tai chi is a type of ancient Chinese martial art that is widely believed to have originated more than 400 years ago during the Ming dynasty. Chen Wangting (1600-1680), a local military commander from the Chenjiagou village in Henan Province, has historically been recognised as the first person to create and practice Tai chi. After retiring from the army, Wangting created Tai chi as a fighting art to protect his family against thieves and bandits. He combined skills of different martial arts with elements of the Taoist yin-yang philosophy.

Tai chi is an internal Chinese martial art practiced for self-defense and health. It is characterized by its intentional movements and is particularly popular as a form of gentle exercise and moving meditation, with benefits to mental and physical health. As a master of Tai Chi Chow Chin-ching said, the benefits of Tai Chi are both mental and physical. "Mentally my students can relax, quiet their minds and focus on their bodies. Physically, Tai chi helps with every part of the body, including the hip bones, joints and muscles.”

An essential part of many peoples' lives in Hong Kong, Tai Chi is practiced in public parks throughout the city, especially early in the morning. All around Hong Kong in parks you will see several small groups of locals practicing Tai chi. Some of the popular parks for this, the Victoria Park in Causeway Bay or Hong Kong Park in Admiralty have morning group classes of Tai Chi. Admiralty even has a Tai Chi Garden which consists of colonnades, Fighting SARS Memorial Architectural Scene and a number of courtyards, which can be used for Tai Chi exercise. Some Tai Chi masters teach the art to their students here while others just practice.

The King George V Memorial Park, on Hospital Road, Sai Yin Pun, has about 5 Tai chi groups in different parts of the park (pics). I remember my mother-in-law, a Non Chinese, used to come to this park some years ago and participated in one of the Tai Chi groups. She was welcomed by the group and also befriended a lovely Chinese lady. As an observer, Tai Chi ‘form’ – a sequence of fluid movements, seems effortless. The Tai Chi group glides and flows smoothly from one move to the next, projecting a calmness that is a total contrast to our bustling city.

On inquiring from a lady in the big group, (pic below) I learnt that many of them had been assembling at the same park for more than 30 years! 

Ms. Tse, the teacher, said that you can learn more about the Tai Chi Programs and Training Classes on the Government website: then go to Leisure and Cultural Activities for the elderly. Under the Recreational and Sports Activities, you can see a list of all govt sponsored activities in the Healthy Elderly Scheme. Search for Tai Chi and you can see the Tai Chi training courses offered across HK for free or almost. The Government has also launched a Healthy Exercise for All Campaign ( ) which encourages people of all ages to recognize the benefits of regular exercise. You can get information about Tai Chi Classes for all age groups here.

I was informed that for the King George Park on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, there are 2 sessions - 7am and at 8am. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturday only 1 session at 7am.

Even if one does not know Chinese, it is possible to follow and learn Tai chi and the group is very helpful.

It was great to see the community together and the social aspect that is so helpful for many senior people and others to get out of their small apartments.

There are other places where you could join for one-on-one or small group classes. For Chen Style Tai Chi institute ( ) hold classes in Sheung Wan for all age groups.

Some more places that hold classes



1 commento

I love watching people doing Tai chi and I am certainly sure it's good for both body and soul. Are you planning to take it up?

Mi piace
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