"Choose the one with the most locals waiting in line." I heard that recommendation years ago. It was a comment made by a traveling chef on the Food Network. His point was to help tourists know which restaurant served the best version of whatever food they might be wanting to eat when more than one facility was serving it.
He advised visiting the one with the highest number of local diners.
Although I'm not a fan of the chef who made the comment, I agree with what he said. Same can be true of nearly any business. If the locals are consistently bragging on it, it's worth checking into.
Ron Weatherford, a rivers' land Tai Chi instructor is one of those in the independent business community that I've consistently heard folks chattering about and all the chatter has been complimentary. My thanks to the New-Harmony Gazette crew for recently allowing me to visit Gazette office, where Ron teaches an hour-long class on Thursdays, and visit for an interview.
In the beginning
A native of Mt. Vernon, Indiana, Ron's teaching career in martial arts began in 1980. He taught alongside his own martial arts instructor, who helped him learn how to share his knowledge and skills with students. In the early years, Ron said he didn't have much of a liking for Tai Chi, but in time his opinion changed. The fluid, graceful and low impact maneuvers of Tai Chi are easy on the body yet can produce high quality results in physical and mental fitness and agility.
Ron's an expert in several martial arts, and although he wasn't a dedicated fan of Tai Chi in the early years of his career, he's since become passionate about it. The bio page on his website provides a depthy view of how he first became acquainted with it and how it later developed into taking up more space in his professional life, as well as how the style of Tai Chi he teaches was designed and implemented.
These days Ron's a mobile instructor. Rather than having students come to his own studio, Ron meets them at a variety of places throughout the rivers' land of Southern Indiana. He works with groups and individual students in Vanderburgh, Posey and Gibson Counties at various facilities. He's adept at working with beginners to advanced students, including those with restricted mobility. If his students aren't able to stand, Ron's teaches them alternative maneuvers that can be done while seated and still produce wonderful results.
Warm season get-togethers
Some fun aspects of being Ron's student is getting to meet other students with like-interest and having class in some beautiful places throughout the rivers' land. During warm-weather months, and of course with weather permitting, Ron and his students gather once a month at alternating parks.
One of the beautiful aspects of Tai Chi is that it can be done almost anywhere and no equipment is necessary.
Ron also teaches Kung Fu and provides Reiki to clients who prefer a natural, holistic approach to healing.
Ron was a delight to interview. He was upbeat and easy to converse with. His knowledge of martial arts is extensive and his passion obvious. He's also well versed on the traditions and cultures that produced them, taking the time to explain a few of the differences to me regarding customs that vary from Japanese-style martial arts to Chinese-style. Ron's focus and preferences lie with the Chinese style, which varies not only in the arts' maneuvers but also in the philosophies.
An example is in the exchange of greetings between teachers and students.
In Japanese-style classes, historically the students bowed at the waist to greet their instructor. It's a display of both respect and trust. The trust bit being born of ancient body-language that says, "Although I'm bowing low, I'm trusting you to not brandish your sword and cut off my head."
In Chinese-style classes the teacher bows his head (at the neck, not at the waist) to greet his or her students. The students respond in like fashion to acknowledge and greet their instructor. In short, a head-bowing version of a hello and hand-shake.
I know only a few maneuvers in Tai Chi, but even with my tiny amount of knowledge and know-how regarding this beautiful art, when I invest even a small bit of practice time in it, I get positive results. It's both invigorating yet relaxing. I can do it nearly anywhere. It doesn't require special equipment. In a group it's just as fun, even if it's a group of only two or three.
It's an easy, inexpensive and healthy art to practice for lowering blood pressure, challenging yourself to maintain easier balance, develop a stronger core and extremities, increase overall flexibility and reduce stress.
I hope if you're not familiar with Tai Chi and you're in the rivers' land area, you'll consider getting in touch with Ron. If you're not in the rivers' land (Wabash/Ohio valley of Southern Indiana), and would like to investigate further perhaps he can help you locate an instructor in your area.
For more information you can contact him via the following...
I hope you enjoyed a safe and happy Christmas and I'm looking forward to the new year being packed with blessings, those needed and even the unexpected.
My thanks to Sifu Ron for the interview and a special thanks to Dan Barton and Ann Rains of the New Harmony Gazette for allowing me to visit during their Tai Chi class time. By the way, they've got room for three more in their Thursday class which takes place in the NHGazette office in New Harmony. If you'd like to participate, contact Ron for further information.
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