A Milwaukee Tai Chi Instructor on Why This Martial Art is so Good for You

Alice Kuramoto, 74, has been practicing tai chi for four decades.

Watching Alice Kuramoto, 74, teach tai chi is like observing a fish swimming; it’s what she was born to do. With light instrumental music playing in the background, the retired nursing professor helps her students, who are mostly women in their 70s, master forms and practice moving meditation, all while keeping classes fun and fostering camaraderie.

A bad back prompted Kuramoto to switch from judo and jodo, more violent types of martial arts, to tai chi. “I started practicing tai chi in my 30s, and I’m so glad I did, because it’s something you can do all of your life,” she says.

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This article is taken from our May 2019 cover story, How to Live Your Healthiest Life

Inspired by her own experiences with pain, Kuramoto adapts her class for those with chronic and age-related conditions. She teaches a gentler school of tai chi called Sun in which students quietly work through a series of movements, breathing slowly and steadily moving their arms, sometimes balancing on one leg.

Unlike yoga, in which many poses are executed on hands and knees, tai chi poses are upright and flow from one to the next.

Find more information about Kuramoto’s classes.

Illustration by Huan Tran

What is tai chi?

Tai chi is an ancient Chinese martial art form that focuses on integrating meditation and gentle movement to balance the body’s energy, called chi. All of the five major styles – Yang, Wu (Hao), Chen, Wu and Sun – offer a variety of health benefits:

– Studies have shown that tai chi can help people with chronic pain conditions, such as arthritis and chronic pain syndrome, manage their symptoms.

– Tai chi helps strengthen core muscles, improving balance and helping to prevent falls in older adults.

– Studies have found that tai chi’s meditative aspects reduce stress levels.

– Kuramoto adds that participating in a group activity can help alleviate loneliness among older students.


“Feel Great” appeared in the May 2019 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

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Since interning for the magazine in spring of 2017, Anna has contributed to both the print publication and website. She has covered topics from women in the workplace to communal gardens and also writes guides to life in Milwaukee. Outside of writing for the magazine, Anna is going back to school at UW-Milwaukee to work towards a career in genetic counseling.