Our first class at Flitwick Village Hall on Monday morning – 11.30 – went really well with an enthusiastic group who had a very pleasant time doing our relaxed exercises to loosen and strengthen our bodies, – for the first half hour. This was followed by a session of learning the first simple movements from the Laojia form – a choreographed pattern that provides a basis for regular practice and for us to learn how to move in a Tai Chi way.
That is to say relaxed movement from the centre with good connection throughout the body. In order to achieve this we initially worked on loosening and then focused on an upright posture allowing relaxed alignment of our structure.
Flitwick Village Hall is a lovely venue for Tai Chi – there is a load of space with pleasant outlook and plenty of parking. The floor is excellent and the acoustics are good – I look forward to building a very friendly class. See here for details of classes in Flitwick.
Congruence is simply the development of body, mind, and spirit around compatible effective world models – traditionally referred to as the six harmonies. For example a mental model of hard/soft balance may be developed in our bodies as an effective way to move and in our emotional selves as a way to deal with tensions and with life in general. The way that these three aspects interconnect is greatly empowered by their compatibility.
Thus Taoism and Buddhism guide our physical training and combine to give us hard/soft Tai Chi movement.
We should carefully consider the Tai Chi principles of relax, move from the centre and be connected ( one thing moves, everything moves). Essentially if we learn to relax and move then everything follows. The rest is adaptation ie it is about how to use that way of moving.
One could certainly make a very good case that body/sports science was originated by the early Tai Chi practitioners or their Taoist and martial arts forerunners – since core to Tai Chi is the idea of observing and creating a balanced body structure. This inevitably takes us to look at our soft tissue condition including slow twitch muscles and facia which then involves working with our emotional/mental training to promote an integrated organism.
It seems to me that there is a natural pathway from hard external training ( and hard opinions! ) in our youth leading to soft ( internal) training in our middle years followed by a phase of interest in healing.
I see this reflected all around me so it seems to be not just a martial arts thing – but perhaps more obvious in that arena – for example I have moved from Karate in my twenties to Tai Chi in my forties and am now ( in my seventies) very involved with falls prevention.
Everyone ( I suspect ) could play chopsticks with a little trainingand that is fine for most people – for example to improve balance enough to greatly reduce vulnerability to falls. The World Health Organisation researched falls prevention exercises and found that Tai Chi (and a similar commercial program) reduced vulnerability by 50%.
This may be why we now have a World Tai Chi and Chi Kung Day on the last Saturday of April each year.
On the other hand to become a concert pianist takes a lot more effort.
Similarly whether performing Chopsticks or a major classical work we would expect to learn some good time before the performance – not wait until the due date. Likewise we should not wait until we need the skill of Tai Chi eg when we have a “fall”, but should learn before we can foresee the need and still have the energy to learn.
Which is why I often refer to an “Over 50s” class – if you start to learn at 50 then you will have learned enough by the time you need it – probably around 60?
Although let’s be fair to do Tai Chi at any level one needs to be at least a bit serious – but the continuum is quite wide, from people who practice once a week for health all the way up to students who practice for many hours each day and have world-class martial arts skills. Like any other physical skill development requires commitment at an appropriate level.
I am delighted to be running a new beginners Tai Chi class in Flitwick for 2023 – this will be at Flitwick Village Hall on Monday mornings beginning on March 20th 2023 and then weekly as a drop-in from 11.30am to 12.30 pm at £10 per class, so if you have been considering Tai Chi or would simply like to try it, then this would be an excellent opportunity.
It seems most people would like “some Tai Chi” – in the sense that they would quite like it in their lives, but only in a limited sense like they might participate in a favorite sport – they do not have or are not in a position to commit more than a limited time to acquiring this skill. Once we recognise this and accept it then we can see that it is perfectly sensible to do a limited amount of practice.eg to learn a short form or do a limited series of exercises. Not everybody wants to be a Tai Chi master – most of us are quite happy achieving lesser goals in promoting our health.
Dissecting the components of Tai Chi we can recognise the way that Taoist Yin/Yang theory enables us to understand this way of creating balance in ourselves – coupled with Buddist meditation which helps us to clear our minds and live in the moment.
Chi Kung – it has been said that all Tai Chi is Chi Kung but not all Chi Kung is Tai Chi. We use internal energy work ( literal translation of Chi Kung ) to dissipate tensions and promote corrections in structure and movement. Then we can identify the model of energy meridians – a concept which helps us to understand the relationships within our bodies.