Tai Chi Chuan

Actually this post is more a speculation on way that things accumulate organically over long periods – the way we humans pass things down the generations as cultural knowledge. Which may help in both understanding and learning Tai Chi – especially if you find it confusing and start asking questions like “why?”.

It seems reasonable to assume from history that people and the ancestors of people have been fighting for a very long time indeed and that therefore some of them probably started to practice so as to increase their chances of survival if nothing else. One can imagine this practice as a sort of parallel activity to social or ritualistic dance – it seems pretty certain that once societies started creating armies then the idea of practice to increase effectiveness was common so perhaps was born the idea of exercises, techniques and strategy.

Fighting of course creates a lot of physical damage, but so does practice which one can easily imagine led to an interest in medicine – fighting itself doesn’t actually take long, leaving extended periods in between for study of other beneficial knowledge – such as medicine, philosophy, magic, psychology, science etc.

So in the early 1600’s in the middle of China a number of these practices and ideas came together at the Chen village in the person of Chen Wangting who created a unique synthesis of physical techniques together with many of these other areas of study including the philosophical world models of Taoism and Buddhism. This coming together of ideas and practices transitioned martial arts training from a base of individual specialist fighting techniques to a system of general training for the person to be able to deal with anything. It has stood the test of time in martial arts and  has since proven an excellent lens for wider personal development of all kinds. It is a cultural movement that continues to absorb new information from anywhere so long as it is useful.

So it is beneficial to think of Tai Chi as a practice for dealing with life, offering off shoots and byways of physical, intellectual and spiritual experience derived from the extensive traditional knowledge which has accumulated over the generations.

Welcome then to beginners – who can consider Tai Chi like any other form of specialist activity and can choose their level of involvement and direction of study dependent on their interest and needs. To compare with medicine for example one may well become a first aider, a para medic, a nurse, a doctor, a consultant? It really depends on how much you enjoy it, how rewarding you find it and so on. The training starts the same, a student only has to choose how far they wish to go.

For more on the history of Tai Chi – please see here 

Chen Taijiquan's Integrated Curriculum by David Gaffney

A great insight into Chen Tai Chi by a very experienced martial artist with long term connections to the school at the Chen Village. This piece covers important basic stuff in easily understood terms – I am looking forward to the rest of the series. Read the article …

Taiji: basic movement patterns and body coherence

Taiji: basic movement patterns and body coherence – an excellent piece by Sam Moor – really well written and easy to read – covers so much of what I try to get across to students but better written! Read the article …

Sheford Tai Chi Festival at the Sheford Community Hall

The last Saturday in April is designated by the World Health Organisation as World Tai Chi and Chi Kung Day – so this year we decided to have a festival of Tai Chi and related arts at the Community Hall in Shefford.

And it was BRILLIANT!

Shefford Tai Chi Festival - Tai Chi Class

Shefford Tai Chi Festival Tai Chi Class

As a first event we set our sights high but our expectations low – both were exceeded – we lost count of the number of visitors and were totally impressed by the enthusiasm of the demonstrations. For those who dropped in on spec the atmosphere was warm and friendly with a multi-generation make up – so much a community event.

The Tai Chi demos took the form of a short beginners class with lots of people joining in and some demonstrations. This was the sort of class that beginners can expect at classes in the afternoon on Mondays and Sunday evenings at the Community Hall.

Shefford Tai Chi Festival Yoga class

Shefford Tai Chi Festival Yoga class

Les Hummel was our first guest and he took a taster class of Yoga through 1/2 hour of exercises and I started to notice what was to be a trend over the day – so much of the Yoga overlapped with Tai Chi in particular and other demos in general – these activities really are complimentary to each other and to the health and fitness of the human body and mind.

David Sheppard offered massage tasters all day and had a constant flow of takers who got up from the couch looking so relaxed it was wonderful to see.

Shefford Tai Chi Festival Massage

Shefford Tai Chi Festival Massage

Next up was a delightful group of Wing Chun students from young to a bit older – an exciting and high energy demo for the martially minded under the direction of Master William Wong.

Shefford Tai Chi Festival Wing Chun

Shefford Tai Chi Festival Wing Chun

Shash Gajjar followed on with a Pilates class for anyone keen to try – Shash did some detail body work with the group and I think all were impressed.

Shefford Tai Chi Festival Pilates class

Shefford Tai Chi Festival Pilates class

More Tai Chi with on the spot exercises for relaxation and mobility followed by some Tai Chi slow walking and a demonstration of the form.

My friend and colleague Judy Hammond took over with a class on Alexander Technique where she worked with individuals on their posture and took us all through some partner work. Judy and I regularly run joint seminars and have a residential retreat coming up on May 12 to 14 – there are places available – see here for details.

Shefford Tai Chi Festival Alexander Technique

Shefford Tai Chi Festival Alexander Technique

A quick Tai Chi class with a request from Shash to see “something more advanced” so I did a fast demo of the Chen style Broadsword form which seemed to be enjoyed by all.

The Community Hall Taekwondo group led by their fourth degree instructor Tom Delve took us back up the energy level with a routine that culminated in a brick breaking demo – do not try this at home kids!

Shefford Tai Chi Festival Taekwando

Shefford Tai Chi Festival Taekwondo

Bringing us to lower energy there was more Tai Chi – where did all this Tai Chi come from? Well for those that were interested there was a history chart showing where and how it developed since the early 1600s.

Back up the energy ladder with Thai Kickboxing by Master Miggy Marcantonio and a brilliant class of enthusiastic young students really going for it for 1/2 an hour non stop.

Shefford Tai CHi Festival Thai Kickboxing

Shefford Tai CHi Festival Thai Kickboxing

The last demo/class of the day was another Tai Chi class to finish off a very successful day.

Shefford Tai Chi Festival Tai Chi

Shefford Tai Chi Festival Tai Chi

Many many thanks to all who gave up their time to demonstrate and take classes – and of course to all our visitors.

Also of course a personal thanks to everybody who gave their time ( and donated cakes! ) in the organisation and running of the day – what a fantastic team support – thank you.

Finally thank you to everybody who donated to charity for their tea/coffee and cakes – we collected over £73 which will be split between the World Wildlife Fund for Nature and a local charity for the Homeless.

Contact details for the participants are below:

Tai Chi – Ian Deavin 07860 218334
Yoga – Les Hummel 07841 862975
Wing Chun – Yvoone & William Wong 07900 922486
Pilates – Shash Gajjar 07963 232666
Alexander Technique – Judy  Hammond 07930 552797
Taekwondo – Tom Delve 07743 918487
Thai Kickboxing – Miggy Marcantonio 07885 249745
Massage – David Sheppard 07776 230327




Tai Chi & Alexander Technique Seminar 13th November 2016

13 October 2016
Thumbnail image for Tai Chi & Alexander Technique Seminar 13th November 2016

Covering exercises, spiralling movement, Qigong, mindfulness, meditation, Tai Chi principles and Alexander principles. The seminar will be run by Ian Deavin and Judy Hammond and participants will be engaged in a fascinating mix of meditation and movement, creating inner body awareness and developing a practical and spiritual mind/body link of considerable strength. Qigong is a basic training […]

Read the full article →

Shefford Tai Chi Festival 2017

29 September 2016
Thumbnail image for Shefford Tai Chi Festival 2017

Each year on the last Saturday of April the World Health Organisation recognises World Tai Chi and Qigong Day – so for 2017 we are planning a Tai Chi festival at the newly refurbished Shefford Community Hall. Entry will be free for all with plans for demonstrations, taster classes, falls prevention discussions, etc through the […]

Read the full article →

Feedback and Education in Tai Chi and the human experience

26 July 2016
Thumbnail image for Feedback and Education in Tai Chi and the human experience

As a child in a post war western society of the 50’s feedback was a very hit and miss affair – sometimes literally – but rarely was there useful guidance. It is only in recent times that the growth and popularisation of western psychology has led to study of human behaviour in anything like scientific […]

Read the full article →

The Martial Arts Path of Personal and Social Development – a Mind Map

6 July 2016
Thumbnail image for The Martial Arts Path of Personal and Social Development – a Mind Map

A piece containing thought provoking ideas and observations linking martial arts and life with a view to learning what goes on in life and why – and how we can develop to deal with it. For example: Conflict and co-operation in social groups – social rules limiting combat and aiding working together. A superior survival […]

Read the full article →

Moving Across the Spectrum – a look at the relationship between Karate and Tai Chi

30 June 2016
Thumbnail image for Moving Across the Spectrum – a look at the relationship between Karate and Tai Chi

This is an early piece written in a time of my transition from Karate to Tai Chi and before I started Chen Style – or met my current teacher Karel Koskuba or his teacher Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang – so probably about 15 years ago or possibly more. ———————————————————————- To put my position clearly I should […]

Read the full article →

Thoughts on Teaching and Learning Martial Arts

3 December 2015
Thumbnail image for Thoughts on Teaching and Learning Martial Arts

I like the “teach what they can take” approach but also see a need to give a view of what is possible. A problem exists that where a really good teacher is available every day then the best way is one to one coupled with group work, but with UK students who have to travel […]

Read the full article →