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Former soldier teaches tai chi to help others

A veteran is trying to use the ancient art tai chi to help former soldiers find inner peace and tranquility.

Jim Howland, 73, has been studying the art of tai chi for 56 years and the style he teaches is called Yang.

Howland has been teaching tai chi at the Nye Communities Coalition in Pahrump for nearly six months now, on Tuesday from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.. He also teaches a class at Custom Health and Fitness every Wednesday at 10 a.m.

Tai chi is an internal Chinese martial art practiced for both its defense training and its health benefits. Howland said tai chi is beneficial to everyone because it gives you an easy exercise to gain mobility, flexibility, balance, vision and coordination.

Tai chi helps you learn how to use your body more effectively, it helps you achieve inner peace and tranquility. Unfortunately, Howland, who served in U.S. Army intelligence served 1963 to 1967, has not been able to attract many veterans to his class so he may open it up to everyone.

“I’m willing to open a class to non-vets if I have enough people willing to learn,” Howland said.

Ken Shockley, 40, a disabled Marine Corps veteran, attends Howland’s class every Tuesday. Shockley has been studying tai chi for about three months now.

Shockley mentioned that he broke his neck during his service in the Marine Corps and was told he would never be able to walk again.

Shockley said tai chi is one of the only things that helps him with his chronic pain. He said he likes practicing tai chi for the benefits it gives him.

“I have a lot more flexibility, mental clarity, and inner balance,” he said.

Shockley suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, and according to Shockley and Howland, tai chi is also a big help with PTSD.

“Tai Chi has seemed to keep me calmer and more level-headed, my PTSD does not effect me as badly or as often as it used to since I started tai chi.” Shockley said.

“Veterans too often get put on medications for their PTSD, and while it may help, it’s not entirely what they need. They need a calm, relaxing exercise to keep them tranquil.” Howland said.

Don Shepherd, 53, is an Army veteran and said his doctor recommended trying tai chi to help with his disability.

Howland mentioned that he thinks most people don’t know exactly how beneficial tai chi is and would love to get more people aware and involved.

Shockley and Howland would like to let interested readers know that physical limitations do not matter and want to welcome you to join them next Tuesday.

The NyECC is located at 1020 East Wilson Road. Tai chi classes are in room number 19. For any further questions or comments please email the instructor at jhowland@sbcglobal.net.

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