Local group eager to show tai chi’s benefits

By Jeff Nations

Pete Voll discovered the healing benefits of tai chi and qigong first-hand as he struggled to cope with the constant pain caused by a degenerative disc ailment and an overactive immune system.

Voll, a Front Royal resident and longtime practitioner of martial arts, found real relief in the traditional Chinese techniques of tai chi and qigong as he learned to cope with the daily pain of his condition. The fluid movements helped to open his joints and relieve pressure, helping keep him flexible and active.

“We’re really trying to circulate the blood flow,” Voll said. “And with that, the proper breathing.”

Now Voll hopes to spread the benefits of tai chi and qigong to his hometown as his Full Moon Tai Chi martial arts studio will host a demonstration during the April 26 World Tai Chi and Qigong Day. The event is free and the public is invited to attend and participate, Voll said.

“We’re trying to do sort of an informal showcase,” Voll said.

World Tai Chi and Qigong Day is an annual event held on the last Saturday in April, when participants worldwide take time to practice Tai Chi and Qigong at 10 a.m. (local time). Hundreds of cities in more than 80 countries will hold events this year.

Tai Chi, literally translated as “Supreme Ultimate Fist,” is an internal martial arts form practiced for both health benefits and defense training. The stereotypical slow movements of tai chi familiar to many is only one form of the style.

“Everybody thinks of tai chi as this slow-moving exercise,” Voll said. “It’s actually one of the most vicious martial arts out there.”

Qigong, or “Life Energy Cultivation,” also includes fluid movements in addition to deep breathing, mediation and chanting or use of sound as a focal point.

Activities will include demonstrations and audience participation in tai chi and qigong, as well as demonstrations yoga, martial arts weapons training and Baraka Kempo. Voll will also demonstrate another internal martial arts style, Liu He Ba Fa, which like tai chi and qigong can have positive health benefits as a no-impact exercise.

The Front Royal event will take place starting at 10 a.m. at the downtown gazebo. There is no admission and audience members are encouraged to participate.

“You don’t have to know anything,” Voll said. “The movements are very easy, and we’ll have plenty of our students who are familiar with the movements to answer questions.”

For more information on the World Tai Chi and Qigong Day event in Front Royal, visit the website fullmoontaichi.org or call 540-664-3018.

Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or jnations@nvdaily.com>