Thursday

Gibson

The science fiction writer William Gibson is famous for writing prophetic stories.

He takes existing scientific technology and cutting-edge advances and considers what may become of things in a century of technological evolution and change.

One of his themes is 'edge'. Having an edge is important.
Edge is that little ineffable something which gives you an unpredictable, unexpected quality - an advantage that cannot be easily anticipated or allowed-for.
Our syllabus aims to cultivate your edge.
The bagua session was absolutely great. Sifu Waller explained it at a really basic level, but more to the point, it all made sense and was an amazing fit with the tai chi. I really feel it opened up a whole new way of looking at the internal arts, and am looking forward to putting it into practice. Sifu Waller's ability to apply bagua moves is first rate, not only making it look easy, but allowing you to do it yourself during the lesson. Although I didn't want to start another martial art, I'm really glad I did.

(Tim)

If I concentrate while he divides,
I can use my entire strength to attack a fraction of his.
(Sun Tzu)

Embrace Tiger Return to Mountain

Chungliang Al Huang writes beautiful books about the freedom of movement to be found within tai chi practice.
He is unconcerned with lineage, masters, forms and formality. Tai chi for him is a  dance of inward expression.
His books speak of following your inner voice.

 There is a lot of confusion about what tai chi is, and what tai chi is.

Mostly everybody is concerned with what form is being done. "Oh, I study from so and so, and he studies from Master Tsung - or Master Choy - and this is Ma style and this is the Wu style and this is the Yang style. What do you practice?"

I say "I practice the Huang style." My style comes out of all these other styles,
and I have to develop to the point where it becomes me.
 (Chungliang Al Huang)
I have trained with many masters including yourself where I know that I want what they have.

However, you have a training method that works and have students with real abilities.
This is very rare in the internal arts.
(Tim)




The dying ground

The dying ground is when you must act decisively and calmly in order to escape an unpleasant situation.
 Although the training in class will still be playful and fun, the pressure will be on.
 With limited options and the need to act, what will you do?

 Your mettle is tested when you are backed in a corner, overwhelmed and in desperate need of inspiration.

When you will survive if you fight quickly and perish if you do not,
 this is called the dying ground.
(Sun Tzu)

It is said a Shaolin priest can walk through walls.

(Kung Fu)

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do
If bees are few.


(Emily Dickinson)

Wednesday

Use your skills

Beginners floor work addresses the underlying skills.
You learn how to use body weight, rootedness and composure to your advantage.
Being aggressive and using tension simply wears you out, whereas letting-go gives you strength.

The deeper floor work skills are about introducing other jing into the exercise, and doing even less.

By withholding verbose descriptions the poem entices the reader to actively participate in the fulfilment of its meaning and, as with the zen gardens, to become an active participant in the creative process.
(Andrew Juniper) 

Can you imagine tense water?

In tai chi you must avoid the use of muscular tension and force. The maximum amount of pressure must be 4 ounces. Any more and you are fighting force with force and the strongest person will succeed.

Your muscles need to remain soft. The application must feel easy.

Strikes need to feel as if they never happened.

If you are struggling, you are doing something wrong. Relax, bend, yield and change - find another path by feeling for it. 
Another problem is that the master may try to teach you what he can do now as a result of years of practice, instead of showing you a process that can gradually lead you to this.

(Chungliang Al Huang)

Some people are impatient with concepts and regard them as academic and abstract.
Such people prefer hands-on action.
They do not realise that the purpose of concepts is to breed concrete alternatives for action.


(Edward De Bono)

Long-term exercise

According to the book The Blue Zones it is important to think of exercise in terms of what you can reasonably do long-term.
The ideal form of exercise is moderate enough that you can do it for the rest of your life. It needs to be joint-friendly, provide a gentle workout and be sustainable.
This sounds rather like tai chi, doesn't it?

Tuesday

Applications

Baguazhang addresses the experience of combat in a different way to tai chi.
The student avoids direct confrontation by circling around the opponent or by encouraging the attacker to circle around them.
Momentum and flow are used to overcome strength. The aim is to draw the attacker out of their centre and off-balance.

Bagua trains the student to adapt, change and improvise.
There are no fixed techniques, with the exponent preferring to respond to the demands of the moment rather than force an outcome.

5 excellences

Historically, tai chi was considered to be highly refined; alongside painting, classical literature, calligraphy and medicine.

Monday

Swift feet

Considerable balance is acquired through learning baguazhang.
Walking the circle requires the student to sink their root deep into the ground in order to become stable in motion.
Evasive footwork is vital.
The feet must be agile, alert and swift.

Circle walking needs to be smooth and natural, casual and comfortable.
Awkward stepping cannot be used in self defence.

Thursday

The wise speak when
they have something to say,
fools speak when
they have to say something.

(Confucius)

Monday

TAI CHI - is it safe to come to class?

Hi,

A lot of people are panicking about the Corona Virus and many events are being cancelled. Some people are even hoarding toilet paper.
You may be wondering whether or not it is safe to come to tai chi class...

Well, let's compare it to the supermarket.
The supermarket gives you a realistic cross section of your local populace. Most of the people that you see are far from healthy. Be honest here?
Are the supermarket trolleys, scanners, payment machine buttons etc being sanitised after every use?
No.
At present, the supermarkets are often packed with strangers in close proximity.

By contrast, the tai chi class is attended by people who are committed to being healthy.
We will endeavour to wipe surfaces down before class.
If you want to train solo - rather than partnered - you can request this.
If you partner with people and wish to wash your hands afterwards, no one will be offended.

Remember: staying strong (physically, mentally and emotionally) is crucial. We can help you with that.

Take care,

Rachel