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!
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
Great to see so many new faces at Tai Chi in the Park this evening. Hope you all enjoyed it.
We covered: Stances, Seven Stars & Four directions Pushing Hands, the first twelve moves of the Short Square Form, Wave Hands in Clouds. I also explained that there are 5 elements in the Wudang System: Hand Forms, Weapon Forms, Pushing Hands, Self Defence Applications and Nei Gong.
If you go to my teacher Peter Ballam’s site through the Links page above you will find video’s of all the Forms and Pushing Hands. If you want to find out more about Tai Chi and the Wudang Style in particular then visit my Sifu Dan Docherty’s site.
I should have mentioned that we shall be at WISHFEST with an information desk in the Health & Wellbeing Area again this year. There will also be a demo at 4pm (England will hopefully be in the World Cup final not the third place play-off!) which you are welcome to join in. If not, I hope to see you all again next Monday.
Hopefully that was the last of the winter weather so we can look forward to a beautiful Summer of Tai Chi in the Park starting on Monday 14th May. We shall concentrate on Dao-quan and Tui-shou, that is Hand Forms and Pushing Hands.
I shall put some cards/posters around in the hope of attracting some new participants to the finest exercise system and martial art in the world. If you are reading this thinking about taking up Tai Chi then please do come and join us. It is a small friendly group you will quickly feel at home in and if you are interested in the martial rather than just the health side please let me know. Check out the pages on this site and the links to my teachers for more information or give me a call on Brighton 276695.
When: Monday Evenings 6.45-7.45pm.
Where: Wish Park – in the middle on the South side.
Cost: A measly £5 (Discount for members i.e. regulars to the Thursday class)
Weather: If it rains wear a hat, I will be there!
Parking: If you must drive be aware that there is limited Pay by Phone parking in Saxon Rd. The rest is residents only from 7 until 8. You can also park, for free, by Hove Lagoon if you don’t mind a little walk.
Enjoyed program by “Trust me, I’m a doctor”, presented by Michael Mosley on BBC1 on Wednesday night- The Truth About Getting Fit.
It looked at the latest research, staged some ‘illustrative’ experiments and ended up recommending brisk walking (Moving step push hands, weapons forms), weights (Hand stands & Nei-gong) and dancing (Hand Form, applications, freestyle push hands) unless you fancy HIT – High Intensity Training (rolls + Running Thunder Hands!). Interesting that HIT only really works heart and thighs but the effects transfer to all muscles.
Also, Getting Fit does NOT need will power, which will always let you down(!), but immediate enjoyment (Chat and catch up during 7 Stars) as a reward plus the camaraderie of a group (Keen members of Wish Wudang Tai Chi Club always go to the pub afterwards and most attend the Spring Festival meal and Summer BBQ!).
Looks like our system, Wish Wudang Tai Chi Chuan, covers all bases but then it has been refined by trial and error over several hundred years so I am not surprised, just smug!
And how did I do in the tests? 10 in 11s and PR 93 which is OK at 71.