Sink the Chi…….

Posted April 22nd, 2011 in Reference Material by Chris Hill

Sink the chi downwards, raise the spirit upwards.  The chi follows the movements of the muscles and sinks downwards whilst the spirit follows the skeletal system and rise upwards.

Suggested Reading on Tai Chi, Qigong, Health and Spirit

Posted April 18th, 2011 in Reference Material by Chris Hill

Suggested Reading

Tai Chi

T’ai Chi: The Essential Introductory Guide by Alan Peck. An excellent introduction to the MiddleWay School’s lineage of Tai Chi and in Tai Chi in general from a recognised Tai Chi Master and also primary teacher of the MiddleWay schools teachers.

Cheng Tzu’s Thirteen Treatises on T’ai Chi Ch’uan by Cheng Man-ching, Martin Inn and translated by Benjamin Pang-lo. Cheng Man-ching was Dr Chi Chiang-tao’s main teacher and is well renowned as bringing Tai Chi to the west in the 1960’s. His definitive work here on Tai Chi holds profound teachings of the intricacies of Tai Chi foundations.

Classical Tai Chi Sword by Dr Chi Chiang-tao and Toyo & Petra Kobayashi. Toyo and Petra learnt Tai Chi form and Sword direct from Dr Chi and the book contains written history and advice on Tai Chi sword practice.

Lost Tai Chi Classics from the Late Ching Dynasty by Douglas Wile. A scholarly and historically well researched book by Douglas Wile famous for his equally well regarded book “T’ai-chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Transmissions”. The book covers source material and 1st generation writings of valuable teachings from the Yang family and Chen and Wu aswell.

Tai Chi Qi & Jin: Ultimate guide for developing Internal & Intrinsic energies by Stuart Alve Olson. Written by an indoor student of the late great Tai Chi Master T.T. Liang famous for his “Tai Chi Chuan for Health and Self Defence”. However the main part of the text comes from translations of Y.K. Chen a disciple of Yang Chen-fu (grandson of the founder of Yang style Tai Chi) from the Yang family manual of Tai Chi. The book covers pure internal practice of Tai Chi and details some more advanced aspects of sensitivity.


Chinese medical Qigong therapy: A comprehensive clinical guide by Jerry Alan Johnson. Probably the most extensive document in English written covering all aspects of Qigong. It focuses mainly on medical Qigong but also covers chapters on Taoist, Buddhist, Spiritual and Martial Qigong. Primarily a manual for practitioners of Medical Qigong as a treatment but has so much of interest to other practitioners of other internal arts.

Qigong Teachings of a Taoist Immortal: The Eight Essential Exercises of Master Li Ching-Yun Translated by Stuart Alve Olson. A very interesting and well written practical book on the famous 8-Brocades of Silk Taoist health exercise routine. Stuart clearly sets out the origins of this particular practice and gives commentary on some of the original meanings of instructions. He covers the important aspect involved in all internal work and martial arts and that is how to use the mind aswell.


 The Taoist I Ching Translated by Thomas Cleary. A superior translation of the old Taoist classic on advice how life-changes can be managed by means of Taoist divination. The translations themselves into English can still need some understanding of Taoist writings, but still the most accurate translation of the I Ching to date.

Vitality, Energy, Spirit: A Taoist Sourcebook (Shambala Classics) Translated by Thomas Cleary. Another classic by Thomas Cleary detailing various translations within the Taoist tradition on internal practice. The translations still produce arcane language yet the processes spoken of are the same processes in Tai Chi. This is specially of note as there is a translation of Taoist understanding from Chang San-feng, the alleged founder of all styles of Tai Chi. Not a practical book but full of interesting research and motivating stories.

Chinese Medicine

Principles of – Chinese Medicine: The only introduction you’ll ever need by Angela Hicks. Angela, along with her husband John Hicks and Peter Mole, are the founders of the College of Integrated Chinese Medicine, a well renowned and one of the most important colleges of Traditional and 5-Element Chinese Medicine in Europe today. Angela gives an easy to digest introduction on the origins and practice of Chinese Medicine covering its theory, practice aswell as covering Chinese Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture. A valuable and straight forward introduction into the subject.

The Web that has no Weaver by Ted J. Kaptchuk. A more detailed background on Chinese Medicine and its clinical observations aswell research into its modern aswell as traditional applications. This book gives a more considered view and greater depth into the factors behind ill-health and the theory of treatment.


When things fall apart by Pema Chodron. An encouraging book that gives rich advice on not just modern day situations of the heart and mind, but presents it with some practical answers from the Buddhist tradition. A book that doesn’t require you to be Buddhist, but encourages you to be mindful of how the mind operates in life based experiences.

How to Practice: The Way to a Meaningful Life (His Holiness the Dalai Lama) by H.H. The Dalai Lama and Jeffery Hopkins. An essential book from His Holiness the Dalai Lama on how to live a mindful and meaningful life by skilful means. Presenting the advice and practical information from a simple and motivating way. The heart of the book teaches about the twin pillars of Buddhist practice: Compassion and Wisdom.


Energy Healing: A Pathway to Inner Growth by Jim Gilkeson Jim Gilkeson worked with a well respected energy worker called Bob Moore. Similarly Alan Peck made his first forays into internal practice by studying under Bob Moore too and this book gives plenty of progressive and practical exercises to comprehend subtle body energy.

Dr Chi Chiang-tao doing Push Hands and Da Lu

Posted April 17th, 2011 in Push Hands, Reference Material by Chris Hill


Dr Qi pushing hands with John Kells and other students.

Dr Chi Practising the Shortform

Posted April 17th, 2011 in Reference Material, Short Form by gavinwilshen


Watch Dr Chi practise the shortform in all its glory!

Tai Chi in the community

Posted April 16th, 2011 in News by Chris Hill

On behalf of Bristol city council`s,  Bristol Active Life Project (BALP) I recently  gave two one hour Tai Chi workshops for a Young mother`s charity, one workshop was held in Easton and the other in Henleaze.  During the workshop I taught some basic Tai Chi exercises and offered my opinion about relaxation and it`s positive effects on physical and mental health.  Many of the young mother`s hadn`t heard of Tai Chi but from the feedback they gave, I  feel the workshops went really well, I had a positive experience  as I hope they did.

Going nowhere and on the move.

Posted April 15th, 2011 in Reference Material by Chris Hill

Going nowhere and on the move:4 Principles of standing and 4 principles of moving steps in Tai Chi.

A basic premise of Tai Chi and infact even wider than that of life from a Chinese perspective is that if qi/energy is moving then it means whatever the organism is it is moving within: it must be alive. From a Chinese Medicine perspective if energy is moving healthily in the body we are alive and fit, if qi stops then health declines and eventually will whither.

It is famously stated in many areas within Tai Chi classical writings that there are several (traditionally 10) golden principles of aligning the body and keeping it open, so qi can smoothly flow through it unobstructed. However there are some clear and obvious points that relate to when the body is motionless and moving.

Imagine if you were a waiter carrying food to a customers table, or a parent carrying a child in your arms up the stairs. Your wish would be to keep the body balanced at both times of standing still and in movement to maintain control on what you are holding. This also applies if you want to hold the body open in a relaxed and unobstructed way. So to help with that there some key points to become aware of in your practice to help you hold an open and relaxed body at all times:

Structural alignment:

• Feet – Always sink the body weight through the centre of the feet.
• Waist – Sink the tailbone/Wei-Lu, imagine it hanging down so the lumbar vertebrae of the lower back don’t feel compressed.
• Chest/Back – Chest sunk and depressed, it feels soft and slightly sunk as if gently concaving back to the spine (but not obviously that far and not with physical force) – Back open and rounded, not by the use of force or strength but through gently opening between the shoulder blades.
• Neck-Occiput – Occiput (base of skull which joins onto the top of spinal column of neck) open by suspending the headtop and the chin very gently pushed back.

• Feet – as above
• No sinking before stepping. “Sung” or being sunk should always be present
• Keeping back leg loose to allow clear full and empty.
• Strong downward force through the full leg, when a leg is full for example a leg containing 70% of the body weight feel that you clearly and strongly sink downwards through it.

If you practice all 4 points whilst standing still and moving, your Tai Chi experience will quite quickly develop. Tai Chi depends upon our root or connectedness to the ground and by making good practice our natural habit. The “work” needed to get Tai Chi more correct and more refined becomes less and less. So by practising correct mobility and alignment in the body while still or moving, we can infact deal with several issues in one go and can find that there are several benefits:

• More relaxed state in and out of all movement.
• Better connection and stability through the legs.
• Improved circulation through the leg muscles and waist.

And most importantly:

• An accumulating experience of feeling qi in the body.

(Phil Vickery 2011)