Practise

Years ago I saw my teacher concentrate energy in his hand. He was demonstrating how to move Qi to the fist. His fist looked dense, energized while the rest of his body was relaxed. It was impressive to see, it was like his fist was humming. I tried it and my whole body went tense as I tried to mimic what he had done. I tried for the whole session and became increasingly agitated as I couldn’t get it. I asked him how to get it, he said ‘practise’.

My teacher said ‘practise’, so i did it for 2 weeks and made no progress! A year later I was doing a practice in relaxation and yielding in the hand. Instinctively I made a fist and managed to do something similar to my teacher. I kept on and over time I was able to do the same as he did.

‘Practice’ is a noun, ‘practise’ is a verb. ‘Practise’ describes the process of doing something again and again to get better at it. ‘Practise’ is the action of doing something again and again to get better. I promise you, practise and you will be surprised how far you can go.

It is O.K. to fail, just get up and practise again. Let the teacher show you and inspire you, but then do it yourself, repeatedly. Make it your own. Find your own mental and physical pathways to the skills you are taught, then practise. You can do it, you are able.

Practise! Good luck to you!

10 YANG STYLE (TAI CHI) SKILLS

LET THE HEAD FEEL LIGHT AND SENSITIVE: Like a thread holding it up, or a top knot of hair tied to the rafters and your body weight loosely hanging from it. Also, as if someone is supporting you under the occiput and jaw.

SINK THE FRONT AND RAISE THE BACK: Melt and soften the chest, feel like your spine and back are ‘charged’. Let the front of the torso sink to the belly and the hips (kwa), whilst lifting and focusing on the back

FEEL FULLNESS AND EMPTINESS OF THE LEGS: Relax the muscles of the belly, hips and thighs. As you shift your weight, you will feel the leg with the weight on it is fuller, heavier than the leg without the weight. Focus on the different feeling of the legs, know which leg your weight is on – this is the full leg. Keep the knees aligned with the feet, weight spread evenly through the feet and sit in the kwa. Pause before stepping

.SEEK STILLNESS IN MOVEMENT: Pause before stepping, only move the empty leg when you are fully rested on the full leg. This pause should be encouraged. Giving yourself the time to pause before stepping is good for you. You can also feel the stillness of the central pole of balance by being aware of the twisting of the body. Focus on the Dan Tien, around 3-4 finger widths below the navel, just inside the belly.Do dissolving / softeningLink the breath with the movement.

UNITE ABOVE AND BELOW: Find your alignments (wrist to the ankles, elbows to the knees and shoulders to hips, also, elbow to the hip and hip to the feet) like a string connecting them, or a thread going through the body, or simply a direct link. The energy is rooted in the feet, developed in the legs, directed by the waist and manifested in the hands.

MOVE CONTINUOUSLY, MOVE WITHOUT BREAKS: Look for circles, move like water or through water, ‘chan ssu ching’ – silk reeling cocoon – spirals.

RELAX THE SHOULDERS AND SINK THE ELBOWS: Just keep your attention on it, keep going back to it and you will retrain your body.

RELAX THE WAIST: drop the hips to open the waist. Then the hips (kwa) can lead and the waist can turn freely.

USE MIND NOT STRENGTH: Soften the muscles and use mind-will to move. Through knowledge of the applications, consciously direct your body whilst looking for softness and clear direction of intent.

UNITE THE INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL: Be aware when you practice. It is the ‘Shen’ the amalgam of thoughts, spirit and consciousness that move you. Unite internal and external means unite Spirit and body. This is done by having a spacious awareness of your body, mind and environment.

The Legend of Tai Chi

Chang San Feng was a Taoist sage who lived in the 13th century. Around this time, the Shaolin monks had developed strong practices to maintain good health and defense. One day he witnessed a bird and a snake embroiled in combat. The bird was direct and attacking with its firm beak. The Snake was soft and yielding, waiting for an opportunity to strike. Neither creature won the battle as each was evenly matched in its abilities.

From observing the nature of this conflict, Chang San Feng realized that it is not always the strong that win. Sometimes softness can win. So the idea of Tai Chi was born. When using Tai Chi as a martial art, it is good to have both attacking and defensive abilities: Yang and Yin.

In any event in life, especially a potential conflict, it may appropriate to be assertive, forward, creative; or following, listening, yielding may generate a better outcome. Our ability to have a Yang and Yin response to events is our ability to be open minded, flexible and free.

In Tai Chi we can practice changing from a Yin to a Yang state. So we could start moving slowly (yin) then speed up (yang), Think towards the Tan Tien (yin) or focus on clear, spacious awareness of the area around us (yang). There are many skills to learn and each can be regarded as more Yin or Yang in nature. Identifying which is Yin or Yang is always relative.

Eventually we can combine one Yin and one Yang skill at the same time. Sinking the front of the body (yin) while raising the back (yang) is a classic. We can focus more on one skill and glance at the other, this helps stay focused. So focus on sinking the front while having a regard for its opposite of raising the back. This is a very good method as it develops a deep harmony of energies in the body and mind.

Learn Tai Chi

How Do I Learn Tai Chi

As a beginner, you start by learning the tai chi form. There are teachers in the group who are very patient and will take time to repeatedly explain the moves and their purpose to you.  Whilst learning the movements and applications you will quickly benefit from increased coordination, balance, flexibility and a calmer mind.

Where Can I Learn Tai Chi

Our Weekly Classes which normally include Qi Gong, are usually attended by Mark personally and are in Hastings and Bexhill.

Here beginners and the more experienced are able to work on their practice and learn new skills.

Click here for places, times and more information

Tai Chi for Fitness

Improve You Fitness, Balance And Develop a Tranquil Mind with Tai Chi

Tai Chi is an excellent practice and exercise for the young and the old  a like, increasing and maintaining overall strength and suppleness of the joints. The Calming and medative aspect is ideal for today’s busy life styles promoting balance and quiescence.

Tai Chi is an internal martial art that consists of a series of moves (form) that are based on Kung Fu moves, but are carried out slowly, gently and with precision, whilst manipulating the chi around the body to promote good health.

Tai Chi has its origins in China in the sixteenth century and was developed by Taoist monks. Tai Chi as it is practiced in the West today, can best be thought of as a moving form of exercise and meditation combine.

Many of the movements were originally derived from the martial arts, although they are carried out slowly, softly and gracefully with smooth even transitions between them.

It is said the Tai Chi moves emulate the natural movements of animals and birds and the meditative nature of the exercises is calming and relaxing in itself.

The benefits of practicing Tai Chi are many, not least acquiring the skill to ito relax and quieten the mind, which is popular with today’s busy society. The aim of most practitioners, apart from a tranquil mind, is improved health, fitness, balance and suppleness

Tai Chi On The Beach

Bexhill beach

From time to time we go to a location like, Bexhill beach to practice Qigong and Tai Chi.

“The tide was out and the wind was very strong so we found a spot where the rocks offered some shelter. It was a real joy to be near the sea, feeling the wind around us with the sun coming through the clouds.”

Practicing the principles of balance and harmony just seemed effortless for a change! The undulations of the beach, the feeling of the wind and the sound of the waves kept the attention in the present, open and tranquil.

Tai Chi for Beginners

Contact us for a free introductory session for beginners. You can either give Mark a call on. 07790859551, or simply turn up and have a go at any one of our classes. Your session will introduce you to the basic first move and the principles of bringing your mind, body and energy together. The classes are open and friendly, with a patient approach to learning. Anyone can learn Tai Chi, no matter what age or physical ability.

Recommended Reading

The Complete Illustrated guide to Chinese Medicine – Tom Williams

Clear, broad, erudite text covering Traditional Chinese medicine, Tai Chi, Qiogong and Chinese culture.

Chinese Qigong – Publishing house of Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese medicine

Medical Qigong text book, very detailed and practical, a little difficult to get hold of a physical copy.

Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu

The original Taoist philosophy text.

Leih Tzu – Leih Tzu

Accessible Taoist philosophy

Zhuang Zi – The Chinese – English bilingual series of Chinese Classic

This is a great version if you can get it, (Penguin classics have their own version) Lots of stories that bring Taosit philosophy alive.

Zen Training – Katsuki Sekida

Clear instructions on Zen meditation methods.

No Self , No Problem – Anam Thubten

Encouraging Buddhist text.

Ch’an And Zen Teaching (First series) – Lu Kuan Yu

Wonderful descriptions of meditation practices and what to look out for.