How many years have you been practicing tai chi?
In 1960 I learned what might have been described loosely as the martial applications. The classes were haphazard and at times, became a free for all. Having already experienced a variety of fighting arts, I did not see the core of Tai Chi until after many years of Aikido and my reintroduction to the 24 forms about 15 years ago.
Since a child, I have used Chi energy but did not know what it was. Chi Kung was an essential part of my early learning. About 1953 I started to self develop the energy skills that appeared to warrant my being taught in 1958 by some who had escaped the trouble in China. Such privilege was not truly appreciated by an ignorant young person.
What stimulated your interest?
Most children are born with some ability of ‚’Hands on healing‚’. I did not lose the ability when adults told it was not possible to do this. Upon meeting exiled Chinese masters in 1958, my life took a different path. It was then that I experimented with many different forms and started to learn Tai Chi and Chi Kung.
After a few years I was finding TCC the more interesting and deeper subject, so I dropped the karate.
What does TCC mean to you?
It has become a vehicle for all that I see as worthwhile.When I teach, I incorporate the healing arts and mercy, a tolerance of all in the Daoist traditions.
What is the most important aspect?
Tai Chi forms may be used for all ages and physical abilities. They provide the skilled teacher with means of helping people to health and fitness in a way that may be adjusted to suit the individual. For me, it provides the opportunity to meet others, to help host seminars such as Health Qigong, to attend seminars and competitions, to train with experts and refine my forms. What I learn is helping me to help others in so many ways.
Do you have any personal goals?
Goals are sometimes a bit of a let down once achieved. I just need to develop at my own pace and keep fit enough to pass on my knowledge to others. Life offers such excitement when unplanned and little light bulbs keep flickering on when I least expect it.
Who or what inspired you?
I have been interested in Tai Chi since the 60s, when I practiced Kung Fu. Those movements and Chi Kung are as relevant now as ever. Learning Aikido from Sensei Don Weir then Master Lee Ah Loi was a formative part of my life. Since reawakening my interest in Tai Chi through Lee Fairweather, I have learned a great deal from the seminars with Masters Faye Li Yip, Tary, Richard and Simon Watson and the visiting masters. I am in the right place in my life to better appreciate their skills.
What do you make of tai chi‚’s current popularity?
There appears to be growing despair in the minds of many who feel that the NHS has let them down. Many are seeking a different way to actually self manage their own lives and conditions. Disempowerment is soul destroying and common sense has to return. Tai Chi has had a lot of ‚’Good press‚’ and the various styles addressing falls
prevention, self-confidence and particular ailments are becoming of interest to more people.
As a teacher how do you feel about the martial aspect of the art? I have taught martial arts and fitness since I took my first self- defence classes in 1963. I have taught hundreds of people and seen many whose life has been altered for the better. I see the martial arts as the completion of the healing arts. The paradox of life is duality and the Law of Opposites. For me, the more one may heal the more one may be able to destroy. In order to maintain a balanced personality, one should learn all aspects. Not all are physically or emotionally capable and many find the martial side frightening and abhorrent. It‚’s not for everyone. However, an introduction to the purpose and application assists comprehension of the form.
What are your views on competition?
I am all for competitions yet I have a great respect for the view that these arts are about personal development and the loss of ego. I go to have fun.Competitions are great for meeting others of like mind from all over the world and maintaining standards.
What direction would you like to see tai chi going in the future?
The way ahead is opening up. Those who teach Tai Chi must be flexible and to a certain extent, opportunistic.I do not see that trying to ram it down the throat of sceptics is going to do any real good. Only by example and patience will it grow.