REGION – Djemila and Patrick Cavanaugh dedicate themselves to spreading the ideology and practice with Tai Chi to the citizens of Vermont and New Hampshire. “I was first attracted to it (Tai Chi) without knowing what it is,” says Djemila Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh first approached a class 20 years ago while on a German exchange trip. She was only able to make a few classes, but recognized it was good for balance and centering. “It was simple but was not so easy.”
She came back to the practice years later, when looking for an activity to help with posture and stress relief. Tai Chi is a soft martial art, using soft voice and nonviolence ideals. “I clicked right away, like I had found something really beneficial.” Djemila went to all possible classes, practiced with friends, and attended workshops. “I was totally fascinated.” She found lots of sharing; it is not just about self-growth but helping to grow each other. “My first teacher asked me to assist him and I loved it. I was working as a translator and after a while I started teaching on my own.”
While Yang style is the most common style taught in the United States, there are other styles available. Cheng Man-ching lineage, the style the Cavanaughs teach, features shortened forms using his knowledge of medicine to remove some repetitions to 6-10 minutes per form, keeping the essentials. He tailored the forms to be more beneficial, more and approachable to people with busy schedules. The Cheng Man-ching style has a very soft approach to the body and interactions with partners being collaborative instead of combative. Partnering comes after the individuals learn the single forms independently.
“Tai Chi is definitely a very important thing we (Patrick and Djemila) share… but not the only thing!” The couple met as at a workshop in Amherst, Mass. Patrick then went to France on a trip with his school and they got to know each better. Djemila then moved to Vermont to be with her soul mate, and later they married.
Djemila and Patrick participated in the 2017 Spring Health Fair at the Cavendish Town Elementary School. “It was a great experience and I would love to do more work with them. The children responded very well to it. They got really involved with the tai chi introduction.”
The Cavanaughs would like the opportunity to do this again and do more outreach to educate children in Tai Chi. They offer Tai Chi beginner classes across New Hampshire and Vermont for those who are interested in learning the practice.
Current Tai Chi beginners’ classes
- Long River Tai Chi Circle with Patrick Cavanaugh on Thursdays from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Hastings House on the corner of Union and Main Street in Walpole, N.H.
- Long River Tai Chi Circle with Djemila Cavanaugh on Fridays from 10 to 11 a.m. at the Winhall Library, located at 2 Lower Taylor Hill Rd., Winhall, Vt.
- Djem’s Tai Chi Classes with Djemila on Wednesdays from 5:45 to 6:45 p.m. at DG Bodyworks on 7 Depot Street in Cavendish/Proctorsville, Vt.