Just One Thing by Dr. Michael Mosely

I’ve been listening to Just One Thing on Radio 4 over the past few weeks. Each episode suggests one thing you can do to improve your mental and physical health each week and the evidence to back it up.

This week it was on the importance of balance which tends to deteriorate from age 35-40. Not just for preventing falls (2nd most common cause of accidental death according to the WHO) but also for benefits to mental health. I’m thinking ‘Great, Tai Chi is known to be good for balance and falls prevention’ but he was talking about standing on one leg while brushing your teeth… Then he spoke to Professor Dawn Skelton at Glasgow Caledonian University who said “Tai Chi is one of the best activities to improve your balance!”.

Prof. Skelton also mentioned that, starting at any age, regular practice was key. This reminded me of a comment by my taiji sifu Dan Docherty that regular practice in China meant daily whereas in the west it meant once a week! In my experience of teaching over the last 20 years you can sure tell the difference between those students who practice daily and those who only do a weekly class!”

This doesn’t mean you have to practice for an hour every day though  – most people just don’t have the time. No, just 5 minutes, once or twice a day will bring so much more benefit than only attending a weekly class. Who knows, you may even get to enjoy it and see it as something to look forward to in the daily grind!

Tai Chi in Wish Park Starting May 2021

At last we can get back to practising outside! Expecting to see the “Faithful Few” who have been training with me on Zoom  for the last 12 months and hoping to see some new faces who want to learn about this fascinating form of exercise. Non-contact, Socially Distanced of course! Beginners very welcome.

We will warm up with an easy to learn Qi-gong set before moving on to some actual Tai Chi. This is more difficult to learn but more rewarding in the long run.

When: Tuesday Evenings, 6.45-7.45pm May to September.

Where: Wish Park – south, centre

Cost: £5.00

 

Beginners Qi-gong at home on Zoom

We should be starting Tai Chi in Wish Park for the summer on Tuesday 14th April 2020. That obviously isn’t going to happen so I have proposed to my students an “Introduction to Qi-gong” on Zoom. It is free and you only need enough space to stand and swing your arms so ideal for the present Lockdown situation. No previous experience is necessary so why not join us to learn a new skill ? One which I have found very useful recovering from illness when the demands of Taiji Nei-gong were just too much.

I shall base it on the (Immortal Family) Eight Pieces of Brocade or (Xian-jia) Ba-duan-jin. It comprises 8 exercises, simply because that’s a lucky number in China. Four of them have two parts so there are in fact 12 different movements but Shi-er-duan-jin would not be nearly as propitious!

Note that Qi-gong is not Tai-ji-quan though both are based on Daoist philosopy. Tai-ji-quan is a martial art which includes exercises to improve health, strength, fitness and well-being. Qi-gong is purely intended to improve health and well-being by regulating the breath and stimulating the three treasures or san-bao.

If you would like to learn more, and how to practice the Ba-duan-jin safely then join me on Tuesday evenings at 6.45.

To sign up just send me your name and mobile number. I will send you the link to the Zoom Client via WhatsApp or email. On Tuesday evening run the Zoom Client, enter the Meeting ID and Password I send out at 6.40pm and enjoy! You will be muted and you don’t even have to switch on your video at this stage but at about 7.15 I will un-mute you all for questions and chat.

Free On-line Tai Chi & Qi-gong Classes

I have been neglecting this blog and chatting to regular students through the WhatsApp group but I thought I should explain what is going on, during the Covid-19 pandemic, here in case anyone is looking to Tai Chi Chuan, for help in these difficult times.

We started with a class outside on the prom on Thursday 19th March as the King Alfred closed. When that was proscribed we moved on-line and had our first Zoomcast class at our usual time, 8pm, on Thur 26th. It was a bit chaotic but everyone seemed to think it was well worth doing so I shall persist – I have ordered a headset!

If you want to join us, contact me and I’ll tell you how.

I am also thinking of running an introduction to Baduanjin, the qigong set I teach. I usually recommend it particularly to the elderly and infirm as it is both easier to learn and less strenuous than Taijiquan but I have personally found it useful when recovering from illness. It is also ideal under current constraints as you only need enough space to stand and swing your arms. If there is interest I will start this after Easter in place of Tai Chi in Wish Park on Tuesday evenings.

Finally, if you want to find out a bit more about my credentials to teach I am proud to say my sifu, Dan Docherty invited me to join the Featured Instructors on his website last year :- https://www.taichichuan.co.uk/where-to-learn/featured-instructor.html

January 2020 Beginners Tai Chi Course

Make a fresh start in the New Year learning this wonderful, ancient, martial art  with the Wish Wudang Tai Chi Club.

We are holding a 10 Week Beginners Course starting on Thursday 9th January 8-9pm at the King Alfred Leisure Centre. Cost £80 or £10 per week. No experience necessary.

You will learn the slow flowing pattern of movements known as the Hand Form. This is just the Yin or health giving side of the art but as you  progress you can also start to learn the Yang or martial side if you so wish.

Maximum 6 students. To reserve a place or get more information just call, text or email Tim.

A few thoughts on practise weapons

I have a few cheap wooden sabres for students to start learning weapons with but some have asked about buying their own. This I would highly recommend as every blade or spear feels so different and you can customise the grip and even the blade.

If you are only going to do forms then cheap wooden broadswords are adequate. The problem is that if you don’t learn the applications you can never give your form proper ‘yi’ or intent. Even sliding deflections as in ‘Pick a star on the left’ will soon damage a cheap softwood sabre such as

https://www.taichilink.net:8445/catalog/broad-sword-c-1_4/wooden-broad-sword-tai-chi-sword-p-12 £15.99 +p&p but they do come in two lengths 26” or 28”.

Better but still not made to practise applications at speed is this one made from oak:

https://www.playwell.co.uk/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=23_106_203&products_id=1935 £18.99 +p&p but it is only in the shorter length.

Cheap metal display weapons are much more expensive starting at about £60 and for real, live bladed, folded steel you can pay hundreds. They are also much heavier, of course, but better balanced with a larger range of sizes. and come with scabbards. Tai Chi Link (see above) has a number of seconds with slight damage at 10-15% off so you can instantly look like an old hand!

You could, of course, go up to London and visit Shaolin Way in China Town and choose exactly what you want. They didn’t have a big range when I went but that was in the last century… Alternatively if you want to do a bit of research on-line there are several other websites in this country and abroad and, in the U.S., sites where you can pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Don’t forget you may have to pay duty on top but my son has found what he wants this way.

And finally you could consider the latest type, made of abs plastic, so OK for sparring and applications but which I have not tried such as:

https://www.playwell.co.uk/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=23_105&products_id=7330 £36.99 + p&p. They look interesting but for the fact they are plastic, a material I try to avoid. On the other hand if they can survive applications & sparring and last a lifetime they are probably relatively environmentally friendly.

Happy hunting.

T’ai Chi in the Park 2019

T’ai Chi in Wish Park will start just after Easter this year on 23rd APRIL.  I’ve changed to TUESDAYs to avoid the disruption caused by the Bank Holidays in May.  Hope this is not a problem. Time remains at 6.45-7.45pm so no free parking nearby except down by the lagoon or north of the railway.

It will be aimed at all levels including complete beginners. We will focus on Dao-chuan – the slow flowing patterns of movement known as T’ai Chi Hand Form and Tui-shou the more aerobic one or two person exercises often misnamed Pushing Hands. The Hand Form is what most people think of when they think of T’ai Chi. Pushing Hands may come as a bit of a surprise to the uninitiated but you must remember that the art is based on the theory of Yin & Yang so is both soft and slow –  yin,  but also, at times, fast and hard – yang. You can’t have one without the other, well you can, but it is unbalanced and relatively ineffective.

If you have any questions beforehand just email, text or phone. You don’t need any special clothing but dress for the weather and if it rains wear a hat, we WILL still be there!

Season’s Greetings to all and 2019 Beginners Course

The workshop with Dan in Horsham was really good as usual and as there were no beginners the whole group got on well with more advanced exercises such as Da Lu, Reverse Flying Flower Palm and Spear applications.

However I am looking to spread the delights of Tai Chi wider and wider so am advertising a 10 week Beginners Tai Chi Course starting in the new year:

Thursday 10th January 8-9pm. Cost £10 pw or £80 for the whole course on the first evening.  Maximum 6 students. To reserve a place just phone or email.

Tai Chi donated to The Museum of Curiosity by Benjamin Zephaniah

I love Radio4! Just been listening to The Museum of Curiosity (Series 13 Episode 1) in which Benjamin Zephaniah gave an impassioned case for donating Tai Chi. It was great even though some of what he said was disputable!

Yang based styles, for example, are not always slow. Yes, the hand form is mostly done in a slow and controlled manner but some moves, such as Double Hand Sweep Lotus Leg, are quick and besides I do the whole form much quicker on a chilly winter morning than a warm summer’s evening!

As for it not being an effective martial art and “you would be better off doing Kick Boxing or Karate”, that may be true of his Chen style but my Sifu Dan Docherty, his Sifu Chen Tin-hung and several elder brothers in Tai Chi have demonstrated that a full system of Wudang, Practical Tai Chi Chuan is. (N.B. WPTCC is in the Yang/Wu family lineage NOT Chen family despite the name – see ‘The Complete Tai Chi Tutor’ by Dan Docherty for detailed lineages etc.)

Also listened to Start the Week with Andrew Marr interviewing Yuval Noah Harari, the author of Sapiens and Homo Deus. Well worth a listen though  they don’t mention Tai Chi!