Free tai chi and qigong offered at Chamber office

Next Thursday, visitors and residents alike will have the opportunity to take a free introduction class to tai chi and qigong at the Bethany-Fenwick Chamber of Commerce, given by certified instructor Jim Mace.

“Jim has been a member with us for a long time,” said Carrie Subity, executive director of the Chamber. “We figured we have a beautiful location here, why not see if Jim would want to promote his business and do something fun out on the deck this summer?”

The free clinic will be held on Aug. 9, from 8 to 9 a.m., and will be open to anyone in the public interested in attending and learning about the martial art forms.

“I try to split it up when I do something like this,” explained Mace. “I’ll do half an hour of qigong and a half an hour of the sun-style tai chi. It’s a nice introduction of what it’s all about.”

Mace said that qigong is something that has been practiced in China for more than 1,500 years and is starting to catch on in the western world.

“Basically, the understanding of qigong — there are acupressure points that I involve people with when I do a demonstration: how to get rid of a headache, back pain, things like that,” he said, “where to touch on your body and how to touch it and so forth. I even supply a little handout.

“A lot of it is mind over matter,” he noted. “If anybody has cut themselves shaving, or had a broken bone, the body has the ability to cure itself, to heal itself. It’s a matter of saying you don’t want this particular ailment and enforcing it.”

Mace teaches the sun style of tai chi, which he said is recognized as an arthritis treatment in Australia and the United States by the Arthritis Foundation.

“The sun style is recognized for arthritis sufferers and so forth, or to avoid getting arthritis. There’s a lot of upright flow and backward movements. I try to, in the beginning, teach people the first nine moves. It’s simple enough to learn. It’s designed to move every joint in your body very slowly, and it’s also great for your health. I say there’s proof that longevity is a benefit to learning the sun-style tai chi.”

Mace said he has been interested in the martial arts for years, but only got into teaching after he retired.

“I’ve been interested in the martial arts since I was in the Army, where I was into hand-to-hand combat. Then I got into karate and so forth,” he said.

“For my next birthday, I’ll be 75. I’ve always been involved in the martial arts, but I’ll have been teaching tai chi for the last five years or so, just because when I hit 70, I said, ‘I don’t want to work anymore, but I still want to keep active and help other people.’”

In the summertime, Mace teaches at the Bethany Beach Bandstand on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 7:15 to 8:15 a.m., with a requested $5 donation per class. He also teaches classes at his home and has taught at East Coast Garden Center and Brandywine Assisted Living, where residents who were wheelchair-bound were also able to take part in the classes.

“Everybody had a good time. It was a fun time. I really enjoyed it,” he recalled.

Mace said that he knows firsthand that qigong offers a wealth of health benefits that will help people of all ages.

“To me, when you do qigong, there’re health benefits from it. A number of years ago, they told me I was diabetic, and I said, ‘I’m going to beat this.’ I read everything I could on the subject, and there’s no trace of me having diabetes anymore. A lot of that is mind over matter. A lot of things, the body is capable of curing itself.”

Subity, who noted that preregistration for the class is not required, said that she hopes people attend the class and enjoy a beautiful morning on the Chamber deck.

“I think this is something for any age group, which I think is great. It helps the mind and the body, and it doesn’t strain it like running or other exercises.”

“If you have the time come down to the Chamber that morning and, hopefully, we’ll have a few people there trying to pick up on what it’s all about,” added Mace.

For more information on the free tai chi and qigong class, contact the Bethany-Fenwick Chamber of Commerce at (302) 539-2100. For more information on tai chi and qigong instruction, contact Jim Mace at (302) 363-4509.