- Associated Press - Saturday, May 2, 2015

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) - Around West Hawaii, tai chi stays pretty well under the radar.

Lacking the high profile brick-and-mortar schools of the mainland, instructors here of the ancient martial art tend to pass on their knowledge in civic centers, parks, open areas and other temporary facilities, West Hawaii Today reported Monday.

“They don’t really advertise,” said instructor Rick Li, who was on hand for the World Tai Chi and Qigong Day celebration Saturday morning at the beach in the Old Kona Airport Park.

“That’s why we do these world tai chi days, so everyone can get together and be stimulated by what’s going on.”

About two dozen participants glided gently through a series of fluid steps and movements on the white sand. Some were regular students of tai chi, others just visiting and stopping in for some relaxation and rejuvenation. Most were acquainted with the healing power of the art form. For a few, it has become a way of life.

The event’s organizer, Alice Sherer, used tai chi to help her stand up straight after a debilitating car wreck. More recently, it helped her through a battle with cancer. It has been a standby for more than four decades.

“It is my healing path,” she said.

Russ Kellythorne of Kailua-Kona began in the hard styles of Korean kickboxing many decades ago. Now in his 80s, he has moved over to the softer style of tai chi, a form more suited to aging bodies.

“It moves all of your joints through the full range of motion,” he said. “It’s very easy on the body. It’s good for your balance. It’s a moving meditation.”

Li explained how energy moves through the body and can become stagnated at certain points, causing illness. He ran the Nei-Wui Kung school in Los Angles for 27 years, and noticed over time how the art form helped clear his skin and relax his breath.

Practitioners say the art deepens breath, focuses concentration, increases energy, flexibility and healing power by building and moving energy within the body. It’s a slow process.

“It’s beautiful,” said Jody Ellsworth, who was visiting his son from California and looking for a venue to practice while he is here. “Just watching it makes you feel peaceful. It increases your circulation, deepens your breath, massages your inner organs. You don’t need special equipment or a special place. An old person can do it; a child can do it.”

Sherer was pleased with the attendance at the annual event, now in its sixth year in Kona. The World Tai Chi and Qigong Day is just as it’s billed - a worldwide celebration started in 1999 to promote the inner peace and healing that the martial arts are able to impart.

At Old Kona Airport Park before noon on Saturday, even a pod of dolphins was getting into the act.

“When you are down by the ocean, the negative ions in the air are good for breathing,” Sherer said. “And how many times do you get to come down and do your tai chi while the dolphins splash?”

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Information from: West Hawaii Today, https://www.westhawaiitoday.com

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