Meet Rita Mikalauskas

meet Rita Mikalauskas

How many years have you been practicing Tai Chi? I started studying Tai Chi in 1996; originally I studied Cheng Man Ching’s 37 posture form, and then in 2002/3 I studied LuiHe Ba Fa with Andy Harris, but since 2004 I have studied Yang style with my teacher Dr Wang Zhi Xiang from Shanghai.

What stimulated your interest?

I first saw TaiChi in a book called The Way of Harmony in the early 90s and tried learning the form from it, unsurprisingly, I didn’t actually manage to do so but it struck a chord with me. However, my first actual foray into Martial Arts began by my studying Shotokan Karate; unfortunately I found that the only time I was any good at it was when I went into class all wound up! Additionally, I was finding it hard going on my body, I already had a lot of problems with my shoulders and realised I was never going to make it to a black belt. Shortly after giving up karate I met an old acquaintance who told me about a Tai Chi class that was running at the local college, I signed up, attended class and felt like I’d come home.

What does TC mean to you?

Letting go. Being natural. Exploration. Life. I love the way that everything comes back to Tai Chi.

Do you have any personal goals with TC?

To carry on letting go, opening up and transforming all the hard, stuck places. To continue deepening and refining my understanding of Tai Chi’s principles.

Who or what inspired you?

Several individuals have acted as catalysts for me during my Tai Chi journey. Nigel Sutton for his openness and humour, Simon Wired from whom I first gained a deeper insight into Tai Chi theory, and Andy Harris for telling me to go and find my own teacher. However, it is both my teacher Dr Wang Zhi Xiang and Tai Chi that inspire me now. Dr Wang for his skill, depth of knowledge, openness and honesty when teaching and his profound understanding of Tai Chi principles and theory: and my Tai Chi practice that lets me explore what I learn and that sometimes reveals a deeper insight into its realms.

What do you make of tai chi’s current popularity?

I see it as a good thing, as more and more quality research is published, the more mainstream and entrenched it becomes. Nonetheless, I find that many peoples’ expectations of Tai Chi are unrealistic inasmuch as they don’t understand that benefits come with commitment to practice.

As a teacher how do you feel about the martial aspects of Tai Chi?

The martial aspects are an integral part of Tai Chi. What we learn is a martial art, how we learn it and our emphasis when learning may differ but without at least an understanding of this potential limits ones overall understanding of Tai Chi.

What are your views on competitions?

Early in my Tai Chi career I entered a competition for open hand form and won a gold medal (1999 Zhong Ding International Championships) so I think they can be a valuable way of assessing ones own development vis-a –vis ones peer group and that well organised, professionally administered competitions act, on a large scale, as a forum for disseminating information and good practice; on the other hand I’ve seen some push-hand competitions that looked more like a rugby free for all.

What direction would you like to see TC take in the future?

Because of its tremendous range of benefits I would like to see Tai Chi become part of the national school curriculum in addition to seeing it utilised far more by the Health Authority. However, I think it’s really important that we do not lose site of its origins and that wherever possible or practicable these benefits are understood within Tai Chi’s theoretical and martial foundation.

The depth of Tai Chi, its energetic quality and its principles. How it makes me feel.

Do you have any personal goals with TC? To carry on letting go, opening up and transforming all the hard, stuck places. To continue deepening and refining my understanding of Tai Chi’s principles.

Who or what inspired you?

Several individuals have acted as catalysts for me during my Tai Chi journey. Nigel Sutton for his openness and humour, Simon Wired from whom I first gained a deeper insight into Tai Chi theory, and Andy Harris for telling me to go and find my own teacher. However, it is both my teacher Dr Wang Zhi Xiang and Tai Chi that inspire me now. Dr Wang for his skill, depth of knowledge, openness and honesty when teaching and his profound understanding of Tai Chi principles and theory: and my Tai Chi practice that lets me explore what I learn and that sometimes reveals a deeper insight into its realms.

What do you make of tai chi’s current popularity?

I see it as a good thing, as more and more quality research is published, the more mainstream and entrenched it becomes. Nonetheless, I find that many peoples’ expectations of Tai Chi are unrealistic inasmuch as they don’t understand that benefits come with commitment to practice.

As a teacher how do you feel about the martial aspects of Tai Chi?

The martial aspects are an integral part of Tai Chi. What we learn is a martial art, how we learn it and our emphasis when learning may differ but without at least an understanding of this potential limits ones overall understanding of Tai Chi.

What are your views on competitions?

Early in my Tai Chi career I entered a competition for open hand form and won a gold medal (1999 Zhong Ding International Championships) so I think they can be a valuable way of assessing ones own development vis-a –vis ones peer group and that well organised, professionally administered competitions act, on a large scale, as a forum for disseminating information and good practice; on the other hand I’ve seen some push-hand competitions that looked more like a rugby free for all.

What direction would you like to see TC take in the future?

Because of its tremendous range of benefits I would like to see Tai Chi become part of the national school curriculum in addition to seeing it utilised far more by the Health Authority. However, I think it’s really important that we do not lose site of its origins and that wherever possible or practicable these benefits are understood within Tai Chi’s theoretical and martial foundation.