Tai Chi teacher blends health with practicality

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Jason Deatherage will be teaching Tai Chi in September.

Jason Deatherage discusses the origins and various styles of Tai Chi while sporting a Lando Calrissian t-shirt.  This obscure Star Wars reference hints at the dual nature of Deatherage’s character.  A professional musician, an ambulance attendant, the resident I.T. expert at the Creston Valley Public Library and a martial arts teacher, Deatherage finds balance in life by acknowledging that he can take what he does seriously by not taking himself seriously.

Starting in September, Deatherage will be teaching Tai Chi through the Creston & District Community Complex.  “I teach the Chen style of Tai Chi,” says Deatherage.  “It may not be the style many people are familiar with, but there are certainly familiar aspects to it.  There are still the health benefits most people have come to expect from Tai Chi.  It’s still about becoming familiar with your body in a comprehensive way.”

As he pours tea from a traditional Chinese teapot, and comments on the subtle flavours while sipping the hot liquid, Deatherage discusses what his classes will look like and how Tai Chi allows the practitioner to understand how the body works most efficiently.  “We start to see how the knee connects to the hip and, in turn, connects to the foot.  We see the effects of gravity and force.  It’s about being mindful and understanding the force moving through our bodies,” says Deatherage.

But, as Deatherage explains, Tai Chi is not just about the health benefits.  “While the movements are slow, and Tai Chi often attracts an older population, it is wrong to assume that Tai Chi is practised solely for its health benefits.  Tai Chi was originally a fighting martial art and, even though today it is commonly practised as a non-martial health practice, Tai Chi is about completeness.  While classes will primarily be tailored for those looking for the health benefits, it is nice to see how the postures and movements of Tai Chi can have practical benefits.”

These practical benefits include the two-person training routine known as push-hands.  “Push-hands is a balance testing exercise,” says Deatherage.  “No one gets pushed over; it’s a gentle way to test posture and it shows us first-hand about what we have learned.  Tai Chi shouldn’t always be a solo activity.  It blossoms when you bring others into the practice.  By pushing hands, students get a reality check.  They get to explore the martial side without the aggressive competiveness.  Real completeness of Tai Chi comes from paying service to both sides.”

Deatherage was initially attracted to Tai Chi while attending university.  “I was exposed to a lot of Asian culture early on in my life, and when I was at university, exploring aspects of Taoism, I became interested in the forms of Tai Chi because they weren’t trying to be powerful – they actually were powerful in a quiet kind of way.  It wasn’t flashy, like a lot of Kung Fu can be.  Tai Chi seemed to match my personality.  I discovered that the actions of the body propagate through the mind, and the actions of the mind propagate through the body.  I was also inspired by the old stories of those that went off to study in the wilderness, disappearing into the woods.”

Like Tai Chi, Deatherage feels there is balance to be found in all things.  “Both require the other to exist – the serious things and the not-so-serious things.  And we assign values to all things, but I try not to get too excited about anything.  All things change from moment to moment.”  Whether discussing Tai Chi or the failures of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Deatherage can’t help but to laugh along the way.  “It’s all about letting go, anyway,” he says.

Tai Chi classes will take place on Tuesday afternoons starting September 13th from 1:30-2:30 p.m.  Those interested can contact the Creston & District Community Complex at 250-428-7127.