TOPEKA (KSNT) – A Topeka woman is taking the martial arts practice of tai chi and bringing it to people who might need help the most, providing them with a space to relieve stress and getting them back to who they used to be.
For just one hour of the day, a small, intimate group of people get the chance to breathe and focus on them. Sixty minutes to get away from the built-up stress they are carrying.
Madon Dailey is a tai chi instructor. Her journey to teaching the form of martial arts is different than others.
A couple of years back, she took her first class after looking to get on her own health journey.
When she turned 64, Dailey said she gained weight and didn’t feel comfortable with herself. She tried everything and every fitness class she could find. However, the classes would cause more injuries making things like walking up the stairs difficult. One day, she saw a sign for a tai chi class at the YMCA. Dailey decided to give the fitness classes one more try. Tai chi happened to be the only class she found success in.
“I want to know what I can do to help make their lives better. Help them get rid of PTSD, stress.”
Her regular attendance then evolved into her wanting to become an instructor. For five years, she taught tai chi as a certified trainer, but she wanted to do more. She wanted to start teaching a specific group of people. One day, what felt like a sign came to her through a social media app.
“I started in 2018 saying, “Dear Lord, God, if there is a way I could teach tai chi full-time and help veterans, please let me know.’ In August of 2019, on a Facebook page for tai chi instructors, there was this little blip post that says, ‘Would you like to teach tai chi full time and help veterans?’ I went, ‘yes! Me! Me!'”
Dailey became an instructor with the Tai Chi Fit for Veterans program. It’s a program that gives those who have served, their spouses, and caregivers a chance to have peace and health either in person or from home.
“It’s just like giving them back the spirit that they had,” Dailey said.
On Tuesdays, she teaches a class at the Topeka North Post 400. Steve Christenberry, the vice commander at the post, learned of Dailey and what she was doing for veterans by word of mouth.
“One of our auxiliary members got a hold of me about a month and a half ago, and said, ‘hey they’re starting a tai chi class in Silver Lake on Sundays,’ and she said you guys might be interested in having something at post 400,” Christenberry said.
That one conversation then turned into this weekly class.
The classes are also inclusive, meaning people who can’t stand for long also have the chance to take the classes. Tai chi can be done from a chair.
“It’s an opportunity for people to get out and be in the community,” Lloyd Price said who attends the Tuesday class. “It also has, I think, some benefits for people. And also, there really is no talking to each other, but the comradery of being around other people rather than being at home by yourself all the time.”
The classes are also free for veterans because it’s supported by the VA.
Why tai chi? It’s a low-impact activity that focuses on teaching people how to concentrate, breathe and relieve stress, stress that could have come from the war or the traumas that happened after.
Dailey shared the story of one of her participants who has seen an immense amount of change since taking the class. He was on prescription medications, couldn’t stand for long, and wasn’t getting out and about.
Once he joined her class, he was able to ditch the meds and go on hikes. He even got a part-time job he was proud of.
Dailey prayed for a chance to make a difference for veterans, combining her love for the Chinese martial art of tai chi while helping the men and women who served get back to who they used to be.
“It’s just exactly what I asked for in my prayers,” Dailey said.
Click here for more information on classes and how to join. Classers are open to anyone, not just veterans.