My name is Tim Jones. I have been interested in martial arts from a young age. When I was about 10 my mother took me to view a session at the Brighton Judo Club which whet my appetite but for some reason we did not join. I did however devour every book on martial arts in Southwick library during my early teens . There were only 3 or 4 but I have always read a book I liked many times!
I finally started at the King Alfred Judo Club, in the early 70’s when in my mid twenties. I reached 1st Kyu in three years and was, I thought, training hard 3 times a week plus summer school in Worthing to get my dan grade when I hit a wall. I could not improve, lost weight, became weaker and weaker. Six months later I was in the RSCH being stabilised on insulin having been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes just after the birth of our first child.
That ended my career in the Fire Brigade and my judo for a while. I did get back into it a few years later as a mature student at Sussex University. However, when I graduated and became a Maths and IT teacher a growing family and career seemed to take all my time – I even gave up my second love, sailing, for a while!
In 1990 I decided I had to do something more than just work and ferry children around. Don Hitchins, my children’s judo coach, wanted me to take up the sport again but I was in my mid forties, remembered the pain and cowardly refused. Judo may be the way of softness but that was not how I remembered it and I didn’t feel I bounced as well as I used to! I looked at what was available locally and, in early September, wandered in to The King Alfred Leisure Centre to observe the aikido and tai chi.
The next week I started my tai chi journey and have rarely missed a Thursday since. My first teacher was Steve Wilkins, then Peter Ballam and William Thorne for many years. I also went to camps and workshops with my Sifu Dan Docherty, head of the Wudang Style. I went through bai shi with him to become a men ren or ‘inside the door student’ in January 1993.
In 2004 William put my name forward when the old Portslade Community College was looking for an Adult Education Tai Chi instructor. I had, by then, retired from teaching Maths and IT to care for my wife of 32 years who had suffered a devastating stroke. I learned a lot about tai chi over the eight years I taught there but eventually the admin and mounting disorganisation of the college as it morphed into an Academy meant it was time to leave.
Meanwhile I took over the teaching at the King Alfred in 2009 when Peter and William decided to focus on their other groups. It took a while to rebuild the class but I have a core of 6 regular students (2022), one of whom, Rik, is now a qualified instructor and another who has also become a Men-ren. We can even get double figures on a good night!
My Sifu sadly passed away last year but I hope to keep training at workshops with my Wudang Tai Chi brothers & sisters in the future as we gradually get used to living with Covid.
(Updated March 2022)