UPDATED November 10, 2016

Tai Chi comes to the Florida Senior Games

This year’s State Championships to include Tai Chi forms and push hands competition

Tai Chi competition will be included in the lineup of sports and events in the 25th Annual Florida Senior Games, which will be held December 3-11 in Clearwater, Florida. The Florida Taijiquan Association will officiate at the tai chi tournament, which will be Saturday, December 3 at the Ross Norton Recreation Complex, 1426 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave.

Because of its many health benefits, many older Americans have been signing up for tai chi classes at community centers, senior centers and YMCAs. In fact, studies show practicing the graceful slow movements of tai chi so effectively reduces the risk of injuries from falls. Thus agencies like the Center for Disease Control and Council on Aging have begun to fund tai chi programs.

So when Morris Sullivan, a tai chi instructor with Volusia Flagler Family YMCA contacted the Florida Sports Foundation about getting tai chi into the Florida Senior Games, it didn’t take much to sell the idea.

“I think it was a matter of sending the right email to the right person at the right time,” says Sullivan. “Stephen Rodriguez (senior vice president of Florida Sports Foundation) was open to the idea of adding a martial art into the mix, and he had also been considering signing up for tai chi classes. So he was very friendly to the idea.”

Many people are unaware that tai chi is a martial art. However, the flowing, graceful movements are actually similar to the katas of karate or taekwondo. Tai chi is considered an “internal” or “soft” martial art, because the practitioner uses more subtle skills to neutralize an opponent’s force.

In competitive tai chi, participants will be judged for their ability to execute beautiful, traditional tai chi forms. They may also choose to compete in Push Hands, where they can test their ability to sense the energy of an opponent’s attack and neutralize it.

The Florida Senior Games tai chi competition will include competition in Yang-style hand forms, weapons forms and beginner forms. There will also be restricted-step push hands competition, as well as push hands clinics led by very accomplished instructors from Florida.

For more information, contact the Florida Taijiquan Association.

Morris Sullivan