How many years have you been practicing tai chi?
I have been practising Taiji and Taijiquan for over 35 years and teaching solely Taijiquan and related Arts for over 26 years.
Primarily, I was studying Chinese Gong Fu and as I became more adept in our system, more difficult Forms followed. A silk reeling exercise that was integral to Taiji was one of the more advanced Forms I had to learn and from this initial encounter with the Art, I pursued more information from books and Teachers of Taijiquan. SyntaxError
What does TCC mean to you?
Taiji is a discipline unlike any other. External exercises such as jogging cycling etc, can give you a bit of a “rush”. Fishing, hill walking can be calming and satisfying. Taiji provides both of these and more. As a daily routine, I find it highly beneficial to my mental and physical health as well as preparing the day ahead with a clearer outlook.
What is the most important aspect?
There is not one important aspect in the practice of Taijiquan! All aspects are important. To me, Taijiquan is a vehicle that provides coping strategies – physical and psychological to provide one with a greater all round perspective of the many activities that come into contact with us during our daily living. Each individual has their own method of practice and therefore their own perspectives of their life.
Do you have any personal goals?
Yes – I hope it keeps me going!
Who or what inspired you?
Initially, a book I bought in 1974 in Oxford – The Fundamentals of Tai Chi Ch’uan by Wen Shan Huang, South Sky Book Company, served as a catalyst in seeking further information on Taijiquan. At that time I was driving my Teacher insane by asking him to teach me this unusual Martial Art as well as Gong Fu.
However, as nearly everyone states – my Teachers inspired me! Their smooth movements and command of postures, and of other people when it came to Tui Shou or application. Yet, they acted like any other human being outside of our study with no standing etiquette or character façade.
What do you make of tai chi’s current popularity?
I’m thankful that I witnessed Taiji at it’s height of popularity here in the west during the mid eighties and nineties. At that time, I was providing my students with many handouts on the Art that they better understand what they were doing. In one article, I wrote that Taijiquan will be accepted as a sub-culture before it gains full recognition in society and that’s exactly what happened. Back then, Taijiquan was frowned upon as a Martial Art but through time, it gained recognition and respect not only from the hard line Martial Artists, but from the Medical fraternities, Yoga groups and the like.
As a teacher how do you feel about the martial aspect of the art?
“One who learns Taiji without the quan is like being awe-inspired by the smell and look of incense while the rest are in deep meditation”.
I have watched competitors at Taijiquan competitions and it is very easy to spot those that have no knowledge of the Martial aspect involved. The Martial aspect provides focus, intention and greater movement of the body as a whole.
What are your views on competition?
I believe this is a fantastic place for the young and enthusiastic to gain experience and confidence in Form, Tui Shou and sparring. But personally, I find competition tedious having never accepted that Taijiquan Form is a spectator Sport unless performed in very large groups.
What direction would you like to see tai chi going in the future? I would like to see Taijiquan being accredited to a sports educational level, introduced in Schools, which may help restoring some discipline, designated areas in cities throughout the UK for Taiji / Taijiquan practice without being arrested for carrying a sword / sabre, and nominated regional events throughout the UK organised by the TCUGB.
Bob Lowey is based in East Kilbride where he runs the 7 Stars School of Taijiquan. Tel: 013552 35722 or www.7starstjq.co.uk