YWCA To Host Tai Chi Weekend

Finding the time and motivation to exercise can be a difficult task, but it is a key factor in helping maintain optimal health.

That’s why Jamestown native David Goodell, in conjunction with the Jamestown YWCA, has organized a Tai Chi weekend workshop. The first class of the series begins with a free sample on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Jamestown YWCA. For a fee of $75, interested persons can take the weekend workshop which meets on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. to noon and 1:30-2:30 p.m. and continues on Sunday from 1-3:30 p.m. Scholarships are available.

According to Goodell, Tai Chi instructor, student and acupuncturist, practicing the art of Tai Chi for a few minutes each morning and evening is among the most effective ways to cultivate a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

“The practical aspect of it is that it is enormously beneficial for a person’s health, even someone who is really sick,” said Goodell. “And, that’s why I wanted to bring this to Jamestown.”

Goodell was born in Jamestown, but grew up in Bemus Point. He graduated from Maple Grove High School in 1969. And, he attended Jamestown Community College and SUNY Fredonia before moving to Washington, D.C. in 1974. With two close friends, Goodell made the move to do some meditation work and study Tai Chi.

After studying Tai Chi for 10 years, Goodell became interested in acupuncture and began to study with J.R. Worsley, who taught classical five-point acupuncture. Goodell is the author of the book “Opening the Gate of Life,” which is a distillation of what he learned from practicing acupuncture over the last 28 years, as well as teaching Tai Chi and the meditation work that he has done. The first edition of the book sold out, and a second edition is forthcoming.

Goodell still has family in Chautauqua County, whom he visits several times a year. But, he hasn’t had the opportunity to teach a class in the area, and that’s why he asked Margaret Matsumoto, director of teacher training for the Tai Chi Foundation, to host a series of classes.

“I have always wanted to bring back to Jamestown what I’ve learned,” said Goodell. “I feel Tai Chi is invaluable on a very practical everyday level. And, the YWCA was available and a willing partner in hosting the classes. I remembered the YWCA because when I was a teenager I used to play in rock ‘n’ roll bands in the teen club. It was half a block away from where my father’s office was on the corner of Fifth and Main.”

Matsumoto’s parents were born in Japan, but she grew up in various parts of the East Coast in the United States. She attended Syracuse University before moving to Manhattan where she met the founder of the School of Tai Chi Chuan, Patrick Watson. Matsumoto has been teaching Tai Chi continuously since 1975.

“I love teaching Tai Chi because of the fact that it’s an Asian art, but geared to Americans,” said Matsumoto. “The first night of the class, on Friday, will be a ‘come and try it’ session that is a free trial basis. There will be a little presentation, but it will be an experiential sample class. So, people don’t need to know that much about Tai Chi; they could be brand new to it and just be curious.”

According to Matsumoto, the nice thing about Tai Chi is that it gets people standing and moving, but it is also relaxing. And, there are a number of health benefits associated with the practice of Tai Chi that are documented with research such as: improved circulation, greater flexibility, muscle tone posture and alignment, balance and fall prevention. Because, the practice is gentle and low-impact, everyone of any age could benefit, she said.

“People shouldn’t feel exerted; they should feel like they were focused, in movement and engaged physically as well as mentally, but also with the goal to relax,” said Matsumoto. “We hope that from the weekend that people gain a genuine experience in their own bodies of what it’s like to take Tai Chi class and to get underway learning the sequence of movements. All the movements are done slowly and thoughtfully so that you have a chance to identify where the tensions (are) in your body – and through the movement start to let go of those tensions. When you engage the whole body it has an integrative effect on the whole system, and good health is a natural result of that.”

Matsumoto said that if the community shows interest, she would like to return to the area to teach on a weekend basis. She would also like to see local talent developed to sustain regular practice and possibly even beginners’ instruction.

The Tai Chi foundation, to which Matsumoto belongs, is a nonprofit educational organization that is composed of more than 200 instructors who teach classes in 30 cities. For more information visit www.taichifoundation.org.

Registration is required for the Saturday and Sunday classes and can be made by calling call the Jamestown YWCA at 488-2237, ext. 223.