This is introducing my godfather "Sifu " Rahman Khabir, At that time he had the " tai-Chi Institute
of Trinidad & Tobago, really all over the country.
He"s world class taking the world by storm. I was just trying to get over my snubbing at a Capoiera Angola
conference In Cambridge Mass.
I had been friends to many Brazilian caporestas. Sharing my home, telephone,family etc. as gullahs
will do. Got to Mass, these people got strange. Didn"t speak English , and like a page of " Willie
Lynch ", went by the book. I am sure they never heard of the book, but I know it by heart.
As I said earlier , I had been to Bahia, and knew the game well'
My Godfather said ; why are you beating your head against people who don"t love ? I have people in Trinidad
& Tobago who love you, and haven"t met you yet.
Before I forget Khabir recomended me to the Hall of fame. Khabir is also a Hall of Famer.
He wanted me to teach Capoiera in T&T, He brought me in as head arbitrator for Capoiera. At the Annual
" Taste of China martial arts Tournament.
I have never seen nothing like that before and after. There were competition in Lion dance,Sword fighting,stick
fighting , A parade , Steel pan ,Tasa drumming ,and then your expected , Tai-Chi , wusu , Kung fu , Breaking and everyone
got a prize.
There were 2 schools of Capoiera , both of them took me as their adviser. My god sons Sekhetneb , Stephan
Williams got certificates of merit from my " brotherhood Of The Cross & star Capoiera Angola foundation .
When i go to t&t love is everywhere many of the merchants are my capoiera Bros. and Sis. Khabir
had me on T.V. and in the news paper.
Let"s not forget my God father " Victor " who spiritually showed me many things. I keep my note book out
when I am around him.
There are so many family members who make me feel like a True , True , Trini.
Stress is said to be part and parcel of life these days. Each day we are faced with pressure on all fronts; job, financial, political
and so many other sources.
Depending on anti-stress medication can result in other dependencies, which in the end will only increase stress levels
and affect health.
But there are other ways of fighting stress and its effects, ways that will serve to improve your health and quality
of life, rather than place it at risk.
One of these stress fighters is the Chinese art of Tai-Chi, an ancient system of exercises that concentrates on the
development and strengthening of the body's internal vital organs. It incorporates the use of meditation, breathing exercises
and chi (vital energy) development. The source of chi lies in the tan-tien, which is below the navel and stores vital energy
for the entire body.
Tai-Chi uses every part of the body and incorporates slow, fluid movements with rhythmic breathing patterns. Some of
the motions are swift, but these are short and require very little effort. You can hold a position for some time, but not
for too long. One is usually in a state of meditation while doing the exercise.
Tai-Chi is practised by millions of people all over the world, most of whom do the exercises early in the morning, in
their gardens, in parks, on rooftops, at the beach or just about any relatively quiet space they can find.
Now here in Trinidad people can be seen in public practising this low-energy form of exercise.
Tai-Chi was introduced here in the 1970s, but the art is being popularised by Sifu Rahman Khabir, a native of Bermuda
who has made Trinidad his home.
Khabir migrated from Bermuda to the United States at 16 and lived there for more tan 17 years. While there he studied
martial arts under various masters. He was also introduced to Tai-Chi and developed a special interest in the art.
Khabir married a Trinidadian and thus came to Trinidad in the mid-1980s. He spends his time between here, Bermuda and
In 1995 Khabir introduced tai-chi and kung fu to Tobago when he opened a school there. To date he has established more
than seven training centres across Trinidad and Tobago.
He also has a branch of the Tai-Chi Institute of Trinidad and Tobago in the United Kingdom. He was a founding member
of the Trinidad and Tobago Martial Arts Commission and travels extensively to the US, Europe, Japan and China to participate
in festivals and hold workshops and seminars.
The art of Tai-Chi came about when a monk named Chang-San-Feng back in the 13th century was walking through the forest
one day from the Shaolin Temple. He stumbled upon a fight between two animals, a crane and a snake.
Based on the observance of this encounter, he formulated a set of exercises known as Tai-Chi Chuan, which means basically
"meditation in motion".
"This is the art of neutralising the opponent by using the opponent's own force against himself.
"This, however, is used mostly today for healing, strengthening the body's immune system, rejuvenating vital organs,
reversing the aging process, to combat stress, tension and the pressures of the everyday fast-paced world," Khabir said.
Khabir adds that Tai-Chi is for everyone regardless of age, fitness level or lifestyle.
"Anyone can perform Tai-Chi regardless of fitness level. I have taught physically disabled and even bedridden people
the art. As long as the person can breathe they can do the exercises.
"Tai-Chi is not an instant cure for any illness or disability, but it can contribute to improving one's state. It is
designed to put one in harmony with nature," Khabir said.
The martial arts instructor also said the idea of Tai-Chi is not only to treat with the physical exterior of the body.
"Chi energy being moved can put the body into harmony. The art is designed to give coordination, balance, balance the left
and right side of the brain, control respiratory nervousness in the body. Lung capacity is increased and digestion improves,
while muscles strengthen and limbs become stronger and more flexible," he said.
Khabir conducts Tai-Chi classes at venues across Trinidad and Tobago.
For further details you can contact him at 696-0876.
How To Do It
Learning Tai-Chi is not a quick process. It's about repetition. Learn a move, practice it until you get the hand of
it, then add a move a few days later.
Practise the two moves together, then learn the next move, and so on, gradually building up. The more the repetition,
the more your body becomes in tune, and it (as well as your mind) remembers the movements.
Always keep your head straight while you are doing Tai-Chi. This aids balance. The chi node at the top of your head
is a central meeting point of nearly all the chi meridian lines in the body, and is where chi is released upwards into the
Keep your back straight. You will form a vertical "plumb line" from the top of your head to your tan tien - your centre
of gravity and of your chi (about two inches below your navel).
Splay your toes slightly. This really does make a difference to the way that you balance - especially at the times
when you are on one leg.
Always practise in fluidic, constant motion. You don't do one move, ten another, as separate things, "stopping" between
each: the end of one move should flow seamlessly into another - while you are finishing one, a part of your body should be
beginning the next. Make hand movements circular in motion. This increases the fluidity of the motion, and brings expression
into the form.
Breathe out as you push out, and breathe in as you bring your movements in.
Always be relaxed: especially in your arms.
Be wary of pains, especially in your knees - ease off a bit.
The fundamental tip for doing Tai-Chi is to do it often. Once a week will give you absolutely no benefit whatsoever.
Make a practice of doing it every day, or at least four to five times a week. Set a little quality time aside each day,
and know that this is the time that you will be doing it.
UWI students learn the subtleties of this Afro- Brazilian martial art
Sekhetneb Amunwah is a Capoeira instructor who loves Zen
parables. You’ve probably seen the instructor and his Capoeira group, Grupo axe Capoeira, on Sheldon Blackman’s
new music video, ‘Two is Better than One.’ Zen stories contain deep principles, Amunwah says. Here’s one
he shared with me: One day, in ancient times, the master and the student were walking through the forest and were talking
like old friends. As they walked they came upon a swollen pond.
“Cross the pond,” said the master to his
student. “No, Master, you cross,” replied the student, deferring to his master out of respect. But the master
insisted, “You cross.” The student, respecting his master’s request, crossed the pond with ease as if
walking on dry leaves. Then the master followed.
“If I knew you were going to perform a miracle, I would have
broken both your legs,” said the master to the student. The student replied and said, “You are a true master of
this great vehicle.” Get it? Me neither. Relax. It’s not supposed to make sense. It’s deep. Just like Amunwah.
In a previous interview, the Capoeira instructor had told me another classic story—the one where he quit his
stable job in a high-society restaurant to become a full-time Capoeirista. That was in 1998. Today, eight years later, Amunwah
is the manager of the Trinidad arm of Grupo axe Capoeira, running classes in Arima, San Fernando and at the Student Activity
Centre, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus.
In a sense, UWI is the home of this Capoeira school.
The UWI cell, which started in 2001 with only five people, has grown to some 20 students today, making up about half of the
Trinidad group. Then again, it’s really not that surprising that Amunwah feels so at home giving classes at The UWI,
given his proclivity for all things philosophical.
“Those who seek peace prepare for war,” he volunteers.
“Ten percent of the martial art is what you learn in the academy. That’s the physical aspect—how to defend
yourself against your opponent, how to be effective in situations of crime prevention, safety precautions, self-defense and
so on. But the 90 percent is in the dialogue, the conversations with the students. That is where the martial art is actually
In a martial arts world dominated by Oriental culture, the Afro-Brazilian art of Capoeira (pronounced
ka-pway-ra) stands out for being the only popular self-defence technique to incorporate Afrocentric music, dance and song
into its rhythmic cartwheels, handstands, spinning kicks and spontaneous acrobatics. And on the local Capoeira scene, Amunwah
(known as Azulao) stands out as a strict disciplinariany who strongly promotes the philosophical “subtleties”,
not just the physical performance, of this rigorous martial artform.
In fact, the martial art is just one part of
Capoeira. Samba de roda and Condonble are two other fundamental aspects of the Brazilian tradition. Samba de roda is the dance
between male and female Capoeiristas after a Jogo de Capoeira (game of Capoeira); while Condonble (more commonly known as
Orisha in Trinidad) was the religion practised by the Africans in Palmeires, the historic site of the runaway slave fortress
where the ancient progenitors of modern Capoeiristas once converged to perfect the art which they would later use to free
“Martial arts (are) ten percent physical and 90 percent mental,” he explains. “If
mastery of life is what you’re truly trying to attain, you can’t neglect the subtleties of the martial art. Then
your students will become good fighters but not good teachers.”
If you’re interested in learning more
about Capoeira, you can contact Instructor Azulao at (868) 792 0655 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Grupo axe Capoeira, visit the Group’s international website at www.axecapoeira.com. > GB