How many years have you been practising tai chi?
11. I studied a variety of forms and styles, as well as qigong and bagua with internationally recognized Master Bai Li Juan, student of Professor Li Deyin and Coach of the National Chinese Martial Arts Jang Su Team for 14 years and, more recently, UK Team Coach for the World Championship in Hong Kong (1999) and for the European Wushu Competition (2000) When I decided to start teaching, I took two accredited instructor courses, which included elements of traditional Chinese medicine and philosophy, as well as health and safety awareness. I am a qualified instructor of Chinese Health Qigong by the British Health Qigong Association. I also have had the honour of training with Masters Faye Li Yip and Tary Yip from the Deyin Taijiquan Institute.
What stimulated your interest?
Like many other people, I discovered tai chi after an injury that made me rethink the way I exercised and give up some of the more strenuous high-impact physical activities I had been practising for years. My mother had been practising tai chi for a while in Madrid, where I am from, but I had never considered it. I soon realised that tai chi was much more than just an exercise system that would benefit my body. I could feel it working on the deeper layers of my psyche and my emotional wellbeing.
What does tai chi mean to you?
Taijiquan and Qigong are a way of life for me. I have other interests, but tai chi, qigong, and everything these art forms represent and are related to have become a physical, mental and emotional necessity for me. They permeate everything I do in my life and how I see the world.
It‚’s a journey that never ends, and one that I am fully enjoying.
What is the most important aspect?
That it has given me a much greater knowledge and awareness of who I really am, and of the world around me. Through this awareness, it helps me to cope with all the challenges life throws at me, as well as to fully enjoy and appreciate the good times.
Do you have any personal goals with tai chi?
I want to continue to enhance my practice, to bring it to a deeper level, to become the best player and teacher I can be. I want to share some of what I have learnt from my teachers with as many people as I can, so that they can also have a good life.
Who or what inspired you?
I was lucky to find a wonderful, inspirational teacher early on in my journey with weekly private training, for more than 3 years, and I continue my training with her. Master Bai is the one that made me fall in love with tai chi.
Today, training with other talented, accomplished Masters inspires me, as does sharing my tai chi and experiences with friends, and also my students and their progress.
What do you make of tai chi‚’s current popularity?
I have noticed an increase in the popularity of tai chi and qigong in the UK and in my country, Spain.
This seems to be happening all over the Western world. I like that it is slowly becoming more popular among the younger population, instead of being relegated to the elderly and the infirm. But there is still a long way to go, and organisations such as TCUGB have an important role to play in this process. And all of us who promote and teach these arts, have a great responsibility on our shoulders: making sure that standards of teaching are high and consistent, and that we teach taijiquan and qigong properly, preserving their essence..
As a teacher how do you feel about the martial aspect of the art?
A lot of practitioners don‚’t even know that tai chi is a martial art, and many instructors are wary of teaching the martial applications for fear of alienating students. I still have a lot to learn about it, but gaining a deeper understanding of the martial aspect of tai chi chuan has allowed me to bring my own practice to another level. As instructors, we must study and teach this important aspect of tai chi. We must find a way of gently introducing it to all types of students in an enjoyable way. Without understanding the martial aspect, you cannot give your taijiquan the depth, the focus, and the intent that it should have, and you will not derive its whole benefits.
What are your views on competition?
I believe competition can help promote and standardize the art. It can help some players gain confidence and further commit to their own practice. I don‚’t feel the need to compete but I recognize the purpose and usefulness of well-organized, high-standard, reputable competitions.
What direction would you like to see tai chi going in the future?
For tai chi and qigong to become widely known and widespread. To see all age groups practice these arts and recognize their value as a way of living, as systems that have far-reaching positive effects on our physical, psychological and emotional health. I would like to see more sharing between players and instructors, more standardization and regulation, and fair, objective control on the standards of instruction