Category Archives: issue-44

Meet Steve Goodeve

Steve Goodeve has been training in Tai Chi since 1994, and long been interested in Eastern philosophies. Steve is interested in combining human anatomy within TCC practice, while sustaining health and meditative focus. 

Steve teaches in the far western peninsula of Cornwall.

Contact: Mobile 07714 766901 Website www.taohearttaichi.co.uk

How many years have you been practicing tai chi?

I started studying TCC February 1994. I have studied Yang, Wu and Sun TCC family traditions, including hand and weapon forms (sword, walking stick, whip stick, staff and fan), and began studying Bagua in 2001, initially Gao style, followed by Sun style then within a Taoist monastic tradition with an emphasis on health and meditation. I have also studied many Qigong sets, routines and exercise systems, including standing meditation and Zhan Zhuang. I first engaged with the privilege of teaching TCC in 2006.

What stimulated your interest?

I have long been interested in Eastern philosophy, starting with Buddhism and Sufism. These led me to Taoist ideology and here I found a way that for me embraces and blends universal truths, and offers a guide to living well.

What does TCC mean to you?

TCC embodies the Tao and brings together movement, meditation and self-defence, as a focus for spiritual cultivation, while nourishing physical and health wellbeing.

What is the most important aspect?

Meditation in movement and harmony of mind, body and spiritual wellbeing are  important aspects to me, however each of the component parts of TCC; movement, meditation and martial arts, combine as an integrated experience.

Do you have any personal goals?

I have a particular interest in human anatomy and try to demystify some of the more esoteric aspects of TCC instruction by referencing body parts that are engaged during certain movements, for example, movements from the ‘kua’ can be confusing, but relating this to muscle groups within the hips can help to identify those muscles that are ‘switched on’ to perform certain movements. I am interested in teaching and supporting the acquisition of precision in movements, that once integrated into a sensory memory, present a structure, so that movement may be have a foundation of precision but flow.

Who or what inspired you?

Naively but honestly, I was first inspired in the early 70’s by watching an ‘East meets West’ cowboy TV series called ‘Kung Fu’, wherein a travelling Shaolin priest prevailed over all in the Wild West with a combination of faux mysticism and ‘kick-ass’ Kung Fu. Many years later I began studies in Yang Style long form.

Since starting TCC, I have often been lucky but also always sought to find teachers that exemplified high standards, I hope I have ‘been ready when the teacher has appeared’, they may think differently!

What do you make of tai chi’s current popularity?

It’s good that TCC is so readily available, but quantity and quality are not always in congruence. The availability of distance learning through the internet and DVD is useful, but live and direct teaching is essential. Also this proliferation of instructor training courses may dilute traditional in-depth learning from skilled practitioners, and the experiential understanding that is found in longer training programmes, wherein the teacher/student relationship is more of a bonded apprenticeship that can be tried and tested before the student is invited to teach, and becomes a ‘qualified’ instructor.

As a teacher how do you feel about the martial aspect of the art?

The martial aspect is part of the three essential elements of TCC, alongside health and meditation. All parts of form have applications and martial functionality. I exemplify martial applications to improve understanding and muscle memory, not for fighting. Martial applications also tell a visual and kinaesthetic ‘story’ that can help students remember form movement sequences.

Of greater significance to me is the development of a ‘martial spirit’, this is less about fighting but resides in the ability to manage conflict, and the development of humility, perseverance, and integrity. What I often call a ‘Tai Chi mind’.

Pushing Hands (Tui Shou) practice to develop sensitivity, leverage, timing, co-ordination and positioning awareness within a playful partner context is a feature within my classes, and is a reminder to be in the present, feel and respond to what is, relax and explore the 13 Principles.

What are your views on competition?

I have never participated in a competition, it has never seemed relevant to me, but know that many find the process stimulating and feel it sharpens their technical skills development. ‘Never say never’, but for now, this is not for me.

The Tao provides guidance for competition, the challenge is internal, and in being able to let go of the desire to win in order to compete with a receptive and open mind and body. To do this our mind needs to be peaceful, not contentious, because the objective is self-realisation and improved health.

What direction would you like to see tai chi going in the future?

There are now so many opportunities to practice TCC, it has become widely accepted, but it is not routinely regulated, so the quality of teaching can be inconsistent with good practice. With the possible exception of those teachers who have a clear lineage connection, I would like to see a shared standard applied to TCC teaching with all teachers expected to register with an organisation such as TCUGB. Such a formal register may remove barriers to TCC acceptance as a mainstream exercise and wellbeing system, and potentially a discipline complimentary to medicine. Further to this I would like to see more long-term research into the potential health benefits of Tai Chi and Qigong.

I would also like to see more unification between Eastern terminologies for movement and Western medical and human anatomy studies. This may demystify some of the internal aspects of TCC ‘choreography’; however I would not wish to see TCC reduced to a synchronised sequence of ‘by-number’ movements.

 

In general the descriptions of movement could be more accessible to the western mind, but the sense of wellbeing generated by TCC practice is not easily accessible to explanation, like ‘the Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao’, perhaps it’s best experienced and enjoyed rather than analysed.