Category Archives: issue-37

Meet Ray Pawlett

ray Pawlett

How many years have you been practicing tai chi?

I started in 1990. My Taijiquan has been supplemented over the years by studying healing arts, meditation, Energy and other martial arts. The common thread is that I have been fortunate to have studied with the some of the most highly trained teachers and educators living today.

What stimulated your interest?

It is the understanding and use of Chi. The whole concept fascinates me as much now as it did then. In the old days my ideas were quite fanciful and ungrounded but experience and study have refined my consciousness to the point where Chi is a very real experience that can be experienced by anyone with an open and enquiring mind ‚’ and the correct training.

What does TCC mean to you?

I studied for many years with Christopher Pei. His explanation of Taijiquan is that it is a system that trains in health, martial arts and meditation. The glue that binds the three areas of health, martial arts and meditation is Chi. Taijiquan is a skilful method that trains the willing student to strengthen their body, mind and spirit in a way that allows them to connect with their own internal Energies and ultimately the Energies of others and that of the Universe.

What is the most important aspect?

The study of Chi. Without an understanding of Chi, it is not easy to reach the higher levels of being and consciousness that Taijiquan offers.

Do you have any personal goals?

There comes a point when the Taijiquan practitioner realises that it matters little how many different forms there are but it does matter what they do with it. As the ultimate goals of Tai Chi are spiritual, then it is my opinion that to become highly refined in the art without using it to help others is just food for the ego. My goal is then, to use Taijiquan and Energy arts to help raise other people‚’s spiritual vibrations, to create a positive influence on the world.

Who or what inspired you?

I have been inspired by and have gratitude and respect for my many teachers, fellow Taijiquan players and students. Taijiquan is a Taoist art and as such it recognises the flows and patterns of nature. This inspires me greatly.

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

My personal belief is that the evolutionary spirals of mankind and Taijiquan have become more fully entwined. As Taijiquan has evolved, it has transformed itself from being a martial arts discipline to something that is popularly practiced worldwide and has therefore become a part of the Universal consciousness of mankind. It offers a myriad of learning and developmental opportunities ‚’ each of which can help the practitioner to become more grounded and connected to the Universe around them. Taijiquan along with many of the other spiritual disciplines can create healing for the individual and for mankind.

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

Taijiquan started as a martial art and still is a martial art. If a student really does not want to work with anything that is connected with martial arts then that is fair enough but the result is not Taijiquan. It would be Chi Gung or something similar. There is no reason that Taijiquan exercises could not be included in the coaching but I feel that it should be clear that it is not Taijiquan.

However, there is no reason to exclude anybody from Taijiquan. I have taught Taijiquan to people who have had an understanding of the martial aspects but would never consider themselves to be martial artists. This understanding gives a blueprint to getting the body positions and intent correct but does not require the student to be a martial artist ‚’ unless they want to be.

The martial aspects of Taijiquan are like a map of how Taijiquan works. I see many people who have excelled at the martial side of Taijiquan but have not investigated the more spiritual aspects. I see this as an incomplete understanding of the art. What are your views on competition?

I think that as long as the competitor is very clear about their reasons for entering that it can be a valuable spur to their training. Competition success gave me an opening to write my first book and helped me to gain confidence in my work on Taijiquan.

What direction would you like to see tai chi going in the future? Taijiquan means something different for every individual player. It is important for modern instructors to determine which part of the Taijiquan spectrum their clients want to work in and let them develop that area in an open way. Taijiquan players will meet their own challenges and make their own developments that are completely different to their instructors that are completely valid. The instructor must respond to these challenges individually using their knowledge of Taijiquan and Chi to help the player meet their challenges. Taijiquan can continue to evolve and educate both the coaches and the students of the art and yet maintain respect and understanding for the tradition from which it comes.

Ray Pawlett is based in Bourne, lincolnshire and can be contacted on: 07413 620344 or at Ki Ways

Meet Jane Launchbury

Jane launchbury

How many years have you been practicing Tai Chi?

I started over 20 years ago and have been teaching alongside my partner Patrick Foley in our school ‚’Longwater Tai Chi‚’ for 6 years. Originally I learned a Yang Style Long Form, then switched to Wu Style. I also studied Qigong and Nei Gong from the ‚’Energy Arts‚’ System and have absorbed aspects of other internal arts and exercise systems from Malaysia and in the UK.

What stimulated your interest?

My partner Patrick and I wanted to do something together. He‚’d suffered serious knee injuries in martial arts competitions and had been told to stop all contact sports. He remembered Tai Chi from his childhood in the Far East, so we went along to a local class and got lucky by finding Brian Cooper, an excellent and inspiring teacher who was at that time involved in the early days of TCUGB. Brian introduced us to his teacher, Bruce Frantzis.

What does TC mean to you?

It makes me feel really alive and gives me a focus for developing my full human potential. It has changed my life. I love the combination of structural precision and the art of going with the flow. I practise for health, energy and wellbeing and to share the benefits in the wider world. I love the constant changes and challenges that help you to relax into naturalness.

What is the most important aspect to you?

I am engaged on a spiritual path and Wu Style Tai Chi is an excellent vessel for exploring this when it is taught by a Lineage Master in both Taoist Meditation and Tai Chi. I am slowly and steadily learning to integrate the path of meditation deeply into my Tai Chi, in the traditional manner.

Do you have any personal goals with TC?

I want to share my knowledge for the benefit of others. I really enjoy teaching beginners as I have seen how even very simple tai chi and qigong foundations can help improve people‚’s lives enormously. I have practised in the Far East with big groups of people who do not aspire to be great tai chi players, but who glow with health and enthusiasm after their daily exercise. There are many millions of these ordinary people with stories about what tai chi has done for them and it would be wonderful if the same thing could come about in the West.

Who or what inspired you?

My teachers inspire me, as does seeing some real talent and dedication amongst much younger instructor trainees. The Tai Chi Classics are a great inspiration and give guidance again and again, from every angle. At present I find inspiration in dipping into shorter texts and is just right. Pouring Taoist Meditation and Nei Gong into the Wu Style Short Form is an inspiring and pragmatic solution for those of us wanting depth of practice alongside many external commitments in life. I also find it inspiring to visit other teachers and Masters when the opportunity arises.

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

The aging population, global economic situation and lack of spiritual focus for many people mean that we are heading for a vast crisis in terms of both physical and mental health. Tai Chi is tried and tested and is incredibly valuable to humanity. It‚’s a good thing that it is becoming more popular in the West, but it still has a long way to go. I applaud the efforts of the TCUGB to promote it in the UK and now with Taiji Europa.

As a teacher how do you feel about the martial aspects of Tai Chi?

It‚’s important for serious students to understand the context of the art within the moves of the form, but it‚’s difficult and inappropriate to teach to many people doing tai chi for health. When I first started studying Tai Chi with Bruce Frantzis he was very, very martial and there was no doubt about the extraordinary efficacy of this art for fighting. Everyone got to viscerally experience the physical and energetic aspects of internal versus external punches and throws as the groups were small. I think it‚’s important for teachers to have encountered the martial applications as demonstrated by someone at top level who can genuinely use Tai Chi to deal with whatever anyone throws at him/her in martial terms. I often talk to men and women who are teachers but who have never once been on the receiving end of a serious internal punch or Fa Jing throw by a Tai Chi Master. It simply has to be experienced.

What are your views on competitions?

I like the old adage ‚’invest in loss,‚’ you gain experience by learning from your mistakes. I don‚’t think this is why most people enter tai chi competitions but it‚’s the best way to play push hands.

What direction would you like to see TC take in the future?

I would like to see more widespread awareness of the benefits of tai chi and qigong and more good quality teachers. It would be great to see less ego and more co-operation and exchange between teachers to promote the art. I think serious students and teachers should also be more willing to visit teachers other than their main one, to gain insights from different teaching styles and practices.