Tai Chi Chuan

Tai Chi was created from a synthesis of physical martial arts, medical understanding and philosophy. This synthesis is a complex and sophisticated conscious/subconscious process that each of us recreates within ourselves in some way as we practice. Teachers, books and videos can point the way but we must do the rest ourselves.
In this way each Tai Chi practitioner follows the same process as the originator Chen Wangting and all other practitioners since.
I also believe from personal experience that the martial connection is probably not that important if one is not too concerned with developing skill, but for more than a surface understanding it is essential.

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 …

World Tai Chi Day – Shefford Tai Chi Festival

30 April 2017
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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! As a first event we set our sights high […]

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Tai Chi & Alexander Technique Seminar 13th November 2016

13 October 2016
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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 […]

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Shefford Tai Chi Festival 2017

29 September 2016
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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 […]

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Feedback and Education in Tai Chi and the human experience

26 July 2016
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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 […]

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

6 July 2016
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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 […]

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

30 June 2016
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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 […]

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