Torksey: A pensioner with a black belt in karate is running his own Tai Chi classes

John Viney
John Viney

A karate black-belt pensioner from Torksey is proving that retirement doesn’t have to be just about gentle gardening and trips to the library.

John Viney, who lives at The Elms retirement park in the village, has formed the Torksey Dragons Tai Chi Club and at 65-years-old he is actually one of the younger memebrs of the club with many of the members aged in their seventies.

Despite John being a 2nd Dan Shotokan Karate expert, the Tai Chi he teaches is not a martial art used in fighting, but a method of promoting physical and psychological health.

Combining deep breathing and relaxation with slow and graceful movements, it is found especially beneficial by older people wishing to improve their overall wellbeing.

It is claimed to reduce stress, improve balance and general mobility, and increase muscle strength.

John says he is delighted that the Dragons club has already attracted around 10 members, most of which are also residents at The Elms, with more likely to be joining soon.

John is a former police inspector and retired from the force aged 55 and went on to work in the city council’s CCTV control centre.

When he reached 60, he and his wife Christine decided to move to Cyprus but two years later, the couple found they were missing their two daughters and grandchildren so they decided to return to England.

But John had no intention of taking things easy, or of abandoning his life-long interest in martial arts and the Tai Chi he more recently started to practise when in Cyprus.

He is currentlystudying for the 3rd Dan in Shotokan Karate, and earlier this year reached Level 4 in Tai Chi, just one stage away from the highest competence stage of Level 5.

As well as teaching his own Dragons, John also holds regular weekly Tai Chi sessions at the DW Sports Fitness Centre in Gainsborough.

John said: “Tai Chi is a fantastic way to build flexibility and to gain a host of other health benefits such as better breathing, almost regardless of how old you are.”

“It’s a very low impact form of exercise which means that there’s little pressure on bones and joints, and your flexibility can improve almost immediately.”

“But what many people also greatly value is the state of mental relaxation which is achieved by Tai Chi, and which can bring real long-term psychological benefits.”