How many years have you been practicing Tai Chi?
I started my tai chi journey 14 years ago though as I‚’m fond of saying to my students, its not the number of years that matters it‚’s the hours and quality of daily practice during that time that count. I‚’d love to be able to say I‚’d spent 6 hours of every day practicing but in truth I try to practise every day with the length and focus of practice varying to suit family and business demands.
What stimulated your interest?
My interest was stimulated in the most haphazard way. My children were just babes at the time and I wanted an hour to myself in the week. I saw an advert for a class and had no idea what it was, just went along to see if it was fun. The class was half way through the term, I was the only newbie but I was hooked. I quickly went to doing 3 classes a week.
What does TC mean to you?
For me Tai Chi is about connecting, firstly to myself, then my surroundings and others. When I play tai chi I feel whole, complete with no other thoughts…
What is the most important aspect to you?
When I‚’m teaching the most important aspect is to remain true to the principles of tai chi and yet enable everyone to connect to chi or life force within themselves, to start their own journey with Tai Chi. This often means adapting moves or explaining them in very simplified, elemental terms as I also work with people who have either physical or mental challenges. For myself the most important aspect is to switch off my teaching mode be open minded like a beginner and experience tai chi for myself.
Do you have any personal goals with TC?
I‚’d like to spent more time with teachers who can demonstrate, not just talk about using ‚Äú4 ounces to deflect a thousand pounds‚Äù. In the summer at Push Hands UK I met Andrew Heckert, he chats a lot but what he says he can do. With the lighest of touch big men went rolling. I want some of that. I‚’d also like to study with Chen Xiao Wang.
Who or what inspired you?
Angus Clark, my first teacher most definitely inspired me. He‚’s really good at making Tai Chi accesible to the beginner, keeping it relevant to our living today and not shrouding it in great mystery. He loves the great outdoors and Tai Chi on Dartmoor is very definitely uplifting. Adrian Murray has fed my thirst for a greater understanding of where I need to take my own tai chi practise. I always come away from his weekends exhausted but excited by what I have learnt whether it be new moves, corrections or philosophical discussion. I gain a lot of inspiration from mixing with other teachers, players and students as they all bring something new to the mix.
What do you make of tai chi‚’s current popularity?
I think a lot of people are being recommended tai chi as a cure all but they are not prepared to put the practice in to get the benefits they‚’ve heard of. I had a health worker phone me up to ask if I ran any short instructors courses. It transcribed they were looking for a weekly class of about six weeks in length so that they could then use the moves with their clients! Is there a danger of the art becoming ever more diluted?
As a teacher how do you feel about the martial aspects of Tai Chi?
I think that understanding how tai chi works as a martial art and comprehending individual moves is essential to discovering why tai chi forms ask us to make the shapes we make. Do I need to use it as a martial art to validate my study of tai chi? That I‚’m not so sure.
What are your views on competitions?
I like the idea of competition because it allows players to discover whether what we think we know actually works. I haven‚’t yet taken part in any competition because it was never asked of me. Perhaps it‚’s something I still have to do.
What direction would you like to see TC take in the future?
I‚’d like Tai Chi to continue to be used by individuals to maintain their physical and mental health. I‚’d like all the different roots of tai chi to hold to their traditions and styles so that Tai Chi Chuan can still show its many faces in years to come and not be like our modern highstreets where all shops offer the same product. Everyone has different needs and ambitions for their tai chi journey and I‚’d like to see all options kept alive so that people can be fufilled.