Care home residents in Wrexham have found a new way to get their kicks – after being taught how to do Kung Fu.
The residents from the Highfield care home, which is part of the Pendine Park organisation, were treated to martial art masterclass by Shaolin Monk Pol Wong.
Dad-of-three Pol is a regular visitor to Highfield where his father, Jimmy Wong, 97, is a resident.
He is one of only three genuine ordained Shaolin Monks in the UK. His Kung Fu School, Hafan Shaolin Cymru is based in Ruabon and offers training to adults and children.
The ex Ysgol Bryn Alyn pupil, said: “I’ve been teaching the residents to use breathing techniques to relax and get rid of strain. If you do these before physiotherapy they can help you get the best out of it.
“Breathing is one of the best practices and then combining that with movement. It can make your body stronger, improve your immune system, and help reduce stress levels.
“When your muscles are relaxed it improves the blood flow, and that can make a big difference because it help you if you have high blood pressure. I’ve also been teaching them basic arm movements.
“I wanted it to be fun and useful. I’m glad everyone at Pendine Park enjoyed the lesson. I think Pendine Park is friendly, comfortable and the staff are attentive to the needs of the residents. My dad is happy here, and it’s great to see that they’ve got so many activities going on.
Pendine Park residents, Christine Jones, 71 certainly enjoyed the Kung Fu session.
She said: “I thought the Kung Fu lesson was great because it really did relax me. I didn’t think I’d be able to do it at first, especially when I saw Pol’s amazing moves.”
Pol’s father Jimmy moved to Wrexham from Canton Province in China in the 1960s, when he set up Golden Kitchen, the first ever Chinese restaurant in North Wales.
Pol said: “I started learning Kung Fu when I was eight. My father taught me the basics. The basics are incredibly important because they lay the foundation for you to learn everything else. The energetic moves you see all come from the foundation of the basics.
“I started doing kickboxing and became and world and European champion.
“I’ve competed all over the world, from all across Europe to America, Canada, and beyond.
“I met some Shaolin Monks in London in 1995, and they invited me back to their temple. It was a big honour. In 2002 I was ordained as a monk. I spent nine years in the Shaolin Temple.
“Life in the Shaolin Temple was very hard. It was a very simple way to live. We had to get up early in the morning, at around 4am, and we’d work from then until 8pm. I’d be practicing Kung Fu whatever the weather. In the winter it would get incredibly could and in the summer it would get very hot and humid.
“After leaving they allowed me to set up a Shaolin school here as a cultural gift to the people of Wales. It’s a big honour.
“Shaolin Kung Fu is the original Kung Fu, so every type of Kung Fu has come from there. It’s been practiced for nearly 2000 years. It’s Kung Fu in its purest form.
“It’s is a way to meditate, and to practice Zen Buddhism, and a way to see the world.
“We believe in chi which is a universal energy. I learned to move chi to different parts of my body to protect it.”
Enrichment and Quality of Life Coordinator Olivia Thomas was impressed with the Kung Fu lesson.
She said: “This is an interesting addition to our enrichment programme and fits in well with what we do in terms of music and movement.
“It’s really good, because Pol adapted it perfectly for our residents at Pendine Park. They found it really relaxing and they absolutely loved it. It’s something different for them.
“The Kung Fu moves Pol can pull off are amazing.
“Putting on interesting activities is a big part of what we do at Pendine Park. It’s part of our enrichment programme. We also put on lots of art and music classes for the residents. We even have the world-class Hallé orchestra come down to conduct workshop with them.”
For more information about Pendine Park visit www.pendinepark.com, and for more information about Pol Wong’s Kung Fu classes visit www.hafanshaolincymru.com.