VANKLEEK HILL – After interviewing Tai Chi instructor Peter Button, this phrase came to mind: Writing about art is like dancing about architecture.
Most times, an invitation to someone to talk about themselves is like opening a tap and being unable to turn it off. Such is not the case with the newest instructor at Zudio, who is teaching the ancient art of Tai Chi. One could say that Peter Button is somewhat elusive.
Pressing him for details, words and descriptions was perhaps not the best way to explore Tai Chi, which Peter describes as an art which teaches one about relaxing, breating and feeling all the moving parts in one’s body, bringing one, in the end, to being able to see differently.
He described Tai Chi as a way to bring yourself to see the details of the whole – the whole body, in this case.
Button, who lives in Long Sault, teaches students across Eastern Ontario from Brockville, Prescott and Morrisburg, to Cornwall, Alexandria and more recently, Vankleek Hill.
Button teaches a Monday evening class from 5:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. and is planning a Friday noon-hour class from noon to 1 p.m., all at Zudio Dance Fitness Centre on High Street in Vankleek Hill.
The bonus for the noon-hour class, or for any class, is that you can do Tai Chi in your “Casual Friday” clothing. Gym attire is not necessary, although gym shoes (non-slip variety) are a must.
So what is  Tai Chi?
It is a series of slow movements rooted in the martial arts. There are movements and the need to focus on each of the movements, which involve balance, the transfer of your weight and developing flexibility.
You might instantly picture older people when you think about Tai Chi.
But it’s definitely no walk in the park.
I can say that because I have been attending Button’s classes. He gives each student individual attention as he teaches different movements.
The classes do give you a new way of connecting with how your body moves and as Button says, you’ll discover the articulation in your verebrae, you’ll learn a different way to move and hold your weight and yes: there is meditation as you move.
The classes I have attended consist of learning slow, simple moves. But on the other hand, they aren’t that simple.
Sedentary lives and fast-paced days can make Tai Chi feel as if one is entering a different world.
During the typical workday, most of us are tense and holding our bodies for hours at a time in ways that were never intended for our bodies.
Tai Chi is sort of an opening to connecting with the parts of ourselves that make us who we are.
I have to say: that description is somewhat, well, elusive, isn’t it?
Perhaps it is because a state of being is difficult to put into words.


Peter Button, also known as Ryu no Ishi Sensei, spent 16 years in Japan and much of that time was spent studying and learning Tai Chi, while he worked as a teacher, first in a private language school and later, at universities. He says he felt an affinity to that part of the world due to his father’s involvement inhe Korean War – and his own interest in history.
Today, his students are from every age group and include some people with limited mobility who may be in wheelchairs.
Locall, classes take place at Glengarry District High School in Alexandria on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
To try Tai Chi with Button in Alexandria or Vankleek Hill, text or call 613-534-8926.

BELOW: Peter Button