Dr Chi Chiang-tao: Push Hands and Da Lu

Posted March 25th, 2018 in Course Material, News, Push Hands, Videos by Phil Vickery

Here is some footage showing Dr Chi performing Push Hands with his students, the most notable was Alan Peck’s first teacher Master John Kells.

The Da Lu you see in this footage is the one we are currently learning and therefore it is of good note to study it and absorb the dynamics and quality of application.





Where to find the Form.

Posted January 22nd, 2017 in Course Material, News, Newsletters and Notifications, Uncategorized by Phil Vickery

We all learn postures new and revised throughout our studies and without consistent practice we can forget them too. Master Alan Peck the head of our lineage in the Middle Way School always said repeatedly “Make your Tai chi your life and your life your Tai chi”. What he meant by that was don’t keep them separate. When we finish every class we do there’s a tendency to go back to the mindset of “I need to get something to eat when I get home” , “I need to pop into the hops on the way back or “What will work be like tomorrow” etc. However to find the form in our life so it’s effects are realistic we need to never stop doing Tai Chi even when we are not doing the form.

However more than that when actually doing the form practice we must also move out of the way of trying to do it so hard. What I ultimately mean by this is we need to investigate relaxation to a level we may not yet of experienced so deeply in life before. Relaxation is the ultimate key to advancing in Tai Chi. It is an almost never ending quest, and an exciting one too. It continuously opens many doors of realisation and revels many steps up can be taken by trusting in the mode of being as relaxed as possible. Alan would always also say to “relax about the idea of relaxing”. When I finally understood that what that meant for me personally I took it as a primary goal in all my endeavours in improving my form.

We all know the shapes of the postures and the movements in the form, but there comes a point when we have to let go of them and allow something else to control them, and not just our muscles. We need to let the mind to both inform and allow the circulation of qi in the body to create the shapes and movements themselves. This is the meaning of allowing your life and Tai Chi to become the same thing. The application of our mind and intent is what takes us to another level in our Tai Chi because as the classics say the body are the soldiers and the mind is the general. The general gives orders and the soldiers carry them out. In our early stages in Tai Chi it feels like the soldiers (muscles) are in complete control of our form however are development comes to a point when we realise more and more that the general is the primary force that wins the battle and makes the form manifest. The body will always e needed to makes the postures and applications but the mind becomes more and more authoritative and directing in how it comes about.

The method for this to develop is through relaxation and allowing the mind to show itself more when we do our form and have some faith that it will grow stronger to command the body and it’s movements more so.

When we first do our Tai Chi it can be quite external where we impress the movements on our body by the command of the muscles mostly. However Tai Chi advancement will come the more you recognise that we don’t make the form happen by forcing tension on our muscles externally, but allowing the Qi to fill up the limbs, feet, hands and torso according to the shapes and movements internally, under the direct orders of the mind.

Li = External muscular force – usually segmented and unconnected.

Qi = Internal whole body force – smooth flowing singular movement throughout the whole body.

Yi – Mind intent – ever present and always everywhere in the body when your attention manifests.

These 3 elements must always be recognised in your practice as they are vital to correct practice. The ingredient which binds them all together and makes them more amplified is relaxation. When all 3 aspects become your habit then your Tai Chi will be resent in everything you do in life and you will have achieved making your life and Tai Chi the same thing.

As Master Tung Tsai-liang a class mate of Dr Chi Chiang-tao’s used to tell his students “small loss equals small gain, big loss equals big gain”. To relax means to really let go of the current limit of your experience and skills and allow knowledge and wisdom to show itself in your practice. If you hold onto to tension then the door will remain firmly closed and you will leave success in your Tai Chi outside in the cold.

So despite the current weather at this time of year have faith and take a chance when you hear wisdom  knocking at the door of your body in Tai Chi and let it in. Let it in by relaxing like you’ve never relaxed before. The rewards are incalculable!







Use the force: from foot to hand

Posted November 29th, 2015 in Course Material, News, Push Hands, Reference Material, San Sou, Short Form, Sword Form, Uncategorized by Phil Vickery

In Tai Chi we always speak about various classical quotes from the canon of Tai Chi texts such as ” be rooted in the feet”, “the body moves as one unit”, “use the intention to move the body” and “keep the body sunk” etc. All these things are true and very important in Tai Chi and recognising them with actual experience helps us comprehend the teachings of the classics and what comes down through lineage teachers.

In order to assist us in developing our Tai Chi to the highest levels we all need to have clear instructions in what we are looking for as correct experience or else we never can tell if we have the goal in our sights.

So, attached here is an extremely useful pictogram of all the aspects one needs to get the Jin (or tai Chi intrinsic force) to come from the feet; through the legs; directed by the waist; up the spine and to separate between the shoulder blades to funnel out through the arms and hands. It simply splits down into the physical, energetic and mind aspects as a checklist of vital points one needs to get the force from foot to hand.



Autumn term start date and news

Hi all this is just a quick note to say that the first class back at the Lam Rim Centre will be Wednesday 2nd September at 8:00 – 9:30pm. From that point all other classes will continue as normal.

Monday classes will resume on Monday 7th September at 6:30-8:00pm.

As an additional note to late Wednesday classes, a local Yoga school has now taken up the early slot on a Wednesday. Due to the nature of their class structure, and after having a conversation with the teacher, can I ask all students not enter the hall (where we practice our form) to get to the café area until 7:50pm please. This is due to it being with beginners and a portion of teaching that requires meditation and out of respect I said the school would be mindful of this.

So as the weather is variable and we’re coming towards the end of Summer when coming in to the side entrance if you come early can you please either remain downstairs, or if you can get through the Main doors to the centre go up the central stairs (equally being mindful of practitioners in the practice rooms on the ground floor), to the café? Many thanks.

As with last year both classes over a 10 week period went through and reviewed Yang Cheng-fu’s 10 essential points of practice, this term we will be doing something similar. Over a 4 week period both classes will be being introduced to and taught Dr Chi Chiang-tao’s 7 point practice of Tai Chi.

Dr Chi Chiang-tao’s 7 Point’s of Practice:

1. Full

2. Empty

3. Yin

4. Yang

5. Open

6. Closed

7. Central Equilibrium

By paring up most the of the points we will deepen our practice of the natural and correct techniques of Tai Chi and how we can develop and advance our practice and experience. The 7 point principles are essential in Tai Chi whether you want to practice just for health or martial art. A thorough understanding of them is vital to advancing to higher stages in Tai Chi practice.

Enjoy the last week before we come back to classes and as the season transforms so does our awareness to make sure our practice adapts to any changes internal or external, yet always for ours and others benefits.

See you soon

Phil and Chris






Song of the Essence and Application of T’ai chi Ch’uan – By Li I Yu

Posted October 12th, 2014 in Course Material, Long Form, News, Push Hands, San Sou, Short Form, Sword Form by Phil Vickery

Wu Yu-hsiang (who founded Wu Style Tai Chi) was a scholar from a wealthy and influential family who became a senior student of Yang Lu-Chan (founder of Yang style tai Chi). Wu’s most famous student was his nephew Li I Yu a formidable Tai Chi Master and a scholar who produced many manuscripts which are considered part of the canon of the tai Chi classics today. One of his most famous writing was called Song of the Essence and Application of T’ai chi Ch’uan. Please take some time to read and absorb the highly realised teachings he recorded which will contain many familiar sayings you may have read or heard in the classes: Li I Yu

Balance and a bike

Posted July 19th, 2014 in Course Material, Reference Material, Uncategorized by Phil Vickery

The skills in Tai Chi of balance and the decision of movement are not just for tai Chi but are transferable skills….even to a bike:


Yang Cheng Fu’s 10 Essentials Points of Taijiquan

Aswell as preparation for the Long Form classes starting back in the new year 2014, this reproduction of Yang Cheng Fu’s famous 10 essential points of Tai Chi/Taijiquan is a vital check list for all practitioners.

The school will be concentrating on one point in turn each week where we will effectively have a Yang Cheng Fu term so we can understand each point and how to develop it in our overall practice. Please note this will not replace our actual syllabus of Tai Chi merely that we can examine the essential point in the form of: a partner exercise, a standing posture, posture correction, stand alone exercise etc. It will be overlayed onto what we are already learning as a working experience of understanding the Tai Chi classics better.

Please see the reproduced translation below from Yang Cheng Fu’s chief disciple Chen Wei Ming:

YCF Ten Essentials Points of Taijiquan

Cheng Man-ching short form and Push Hands

Posted August 11th, 2013 in Course Material, Holidays 2013, News, Push Hands, Reference Material, Short Form, Uncategorized by Phil Vickery

Here (click on link below) you might be familiar with the first half of the footage showing Professor Cheng doing the short form. The 2nd half shows him doing Push hands with some of his American students with some nice detail:


Why worry (the perfection of practice)

Posted July 16th, 2012 in Course Material, News, Reference Material, Uncategorized by Phil Vickery


Practising Tai Chi and its principles is like any other skill or discipline. Practice, regular and committed, is said to yield benefits and advanced understanding.  It is also meant to provide a clearer comprehension of what it is we are actually doing, to separate the wasteful from the useful elements of our experience.

However there are several kinds of practice, and we need to be mindful to discern one from the other so we do not waste our time and develop bad habits or worse create bad health.


1) Incorrect Practice: this is characterised by not abiding by Tai Chi principles (internal and external) and thus attracting bad health and possible injury. Our bodies have its limits physically speaking in its range and boundaries i.e. how far a joint will open, how much exertion we put our heart and circulatory system, or even practising if very ill when the body just needs rest.

These kinds of practise are likely to do nothing more but injure and harm our health.

Antidote: Pay careful attention to instructions, and when practising alone consider the effects of your practice. When it’s done does it cause pain and discomfort? Does it cause hyperventilation or make your heartbeat rapidly? Does it make you get out of breath and do you feel weaker for doing it? One must recognise the difference between the body being exercised and exercise that weakens the body.


2) Infrequent practice: even if we practice correctly if we leave large uneven gaps between our practice we cannot expect to gain good consistent results. Imagine when you get absorbed in something like a project or a task around the house and you knuckle down to it not because you want to get it out of the way, but because you genuinely want to correct something and solve a problem. This motivates us to further our discoveries and seek out more good experience. When we have gaps we can start to get tired and notice old habits slipping back in. Our clarity of mind can start to dull and our sensitivity can lose its subtlety.

Antidote: be realistic if you have a hectic life with genuine commitments, put aside even 5 minutes a day and dedicate yourself to heartfelt practice. Even be spontaneous about where you do your practice. Although in the beginning it’s good to practice somewhere consistent, when you start to gain good experience you can practice anywhere. Fitting in a small portion of practice somewhere should feel like your body needs it and desires it. This kind of motivation will find a way to make your practice more frequent. Then the effects of frequent practice mean you speed up in your development.


3) Too little practice: even if our practice is regular the amount of time we spend doing Tai Chi has a contributory effect on us and our health. If we have busy lives then we may not be able to spend too much time when we practice, but the fact we do is encouraging. Prof Cheng Man-ching (Dr Chi Chiang-tao’s main teacher) said that even 10-15 minutes of diligent practice a day will have great effects on your health. However if we require more than good health and wish to discover the deeper meaning of Tai Chi or if we want to be able to teach it one day even, we need to commit more time to our own personal practice.

Antidote: If we wanted to read a book fast and get the gist of the main story we could do it quickly (even read a summarised version on Wikipedia!). If we wanted to penetrate the story and characters and truly understand all aspects and subtleties of the story we take our time. We give more time to the book, and then the story has a broader impact on us. We could even say we become an expert on the story, or even mastered it. This is the same with our Tai Chi practice. We don’t however have to keep expanding our practice time as we will eventually run out of hours in the day. We can reach a natural degree of healthy committed practice where we also advance in a consistent manner too.


So with our Tai Chi we can simply improve it by being mindful about the quality, the regularity and actual amount of practice we do. Our aims and goals may vary and while some want to become masters others just want good health and feel good in their own bodies. Both targets are good, but in order to achieve them we must be careful with the tool we use as it helps characterise what we produce in the end. Our practice is the tool our product is our happiness.


Phil Vickery (2012)

Back to beginnings – A commentary on huanchu Daoren

Posted April 10th, 2012 in Course Material, News, Reference Material, Uncategorized by Phil Vickery

Don’t worry about what offends you; don’t take a liking to what pleases you; don’t count on a prolonged state of ease; don’t shrink in fear at the first difficulty”


These are the words of the Chinese scholar Hong Ying-ming who lived around the time of 1600. He retired from office and became a Taoist taking the name Huanchu Daoren which translates as ” A Wayfarer back to beginnings”. This small meditation came from a collection of similar sayings from his peice of work known as” Vegetable Root talks”. They were an effort to convey small meditations on revealing the secrets of serenity and wisdom in an ever-changing world.  He was a scholar and his works embraced all 3 historic spiritual traditions of China: Taoism, Confucianism and Chan Buddhism.

He speaks clearly of not being in denial of negative things in life and not falling too readily into the arms of the positive. One may reflect that the style of teaching contains aspects of all 3 traditions in that the Confucian element is seen in the clear directives, that is the prescriptive “don’ts” giving us clear-cut guidelines, something particular to Confucian teaching. the Taoist aspect is clear in that it shows the duality of opposites, from offensive to pleasing from ease to difficulty. The Buddhist aspect is probably the least obvious element in that it is the fruits of the practice. He doesn’t say what they are or when we may attain them but if we eradicate the extremes from one polar opposite to the other we can possibly be left with void, emptiness. Emptiness is not a zero value in Buddhism but more like a state without form, a formless condition free of hinderance and delusion.

The teachings give us the what we have to do’s with the boundaries of life, and the fruits are found in the middle of the extremes, the weightless and formless state. This is also known as: the middle way.




(Phil Vickery 2012)