Easter break in classes

Posted April 1st, 2019 in Holidays 2019, News, Newsletters and Notifications by Phil Vickery

Just as a reminder the last class before we break up will be Thursday 5th April and we will be coming back to classes on Thursday 26th April.

I will remind all students in class this week and contact those who are absent of the dates.

I will also send a message round to all before we come back as a reminder too.

 

Phil.

 

Back to school….

Posted September 5th, 2018 in News, Newsletters and Notifications, Push Hands, Short Form, Sword Form by Phil Vickery

I hope everyone enjoyed their summer break and are ready to come back to classes which are commencing tomorrow Thursday 6th September – 7:00pm.

I thought I’d outline what to expect as a reminder of what has been and what will be. We will continue to practice the Long Form as our major form exercise and also continue to embed and refine the Da Lu we have all learnt as a rule for this term.

  1. Whilst doing solo and partner practice over the break I thought it would be helpful to re-introduce the concept of weekly applications revision with a chance to review in order, hopefully every week, the applications of the Short Form postures on an ongoing basis. This will seek to both remind us all of the function of postures (which is vital to understanding the Jin level the 3rd level of practice in Dr Chi Chiang-tao’s levels of Taiji). Jin level is important to comprehend because it helps us understand the internal structure of how the body moves in order to perform the function of the application.
  2. We will continue with the Da Lu we have learnt to further refine it but between now and Christmas I would like to start teaching the next Da Lu too which is the first one I learnt and is 7 postures long, and again is a 2-person exercise helping us to understand Taiji application concepts with pre-arranged movements.
  3. I would like to take Push Hands further so all students feel able and well practiced at Roll-back, Press and Push as a standard practice of Push Hands.
  4. Between now and Christmas I would also like to take my lead from the Taoist and Traditional Chinese Medicine line of though of teaching The Crane qigong exercise as with Taoist thought Autumn is the season of the element Metal and relates specially to both the Lower Intestine and the Lungs.

As ever the classes are yours and the direction is aided by myself to help all students develop and advance in Taiji for the benefit of your own personal mastery. Regular practice and repeated practice are the key in Taiji and after the first term back I will also re-visit for one 10 week term Yang Cheng-fu-‘s 10 essentials of Taiji which we will nimbly slip into every lesson.

If you have not practised as much as you have wanted to over the Summer have no fear as Thursday class will also offer up a good opportunity for revision and questions on basics as well as specifics as ever.

I will text you all as well and hope to see you all tomorrow.

Much Love

Phil.

 

 

 

THe Chinese clock

Posted May 23rd, 2018 in News, Newsletters and Notifications, Reference Material, Uncategorized by Phil Vickery

In Chinese medicine the concept of the Chinese Clock is that which splits the 24 hour clock into 12 2 hour segments where qi circulates at its strongest through certain meridians in the body. From the 15th Century onwards, or there abouts onwards, practitioners of internal arts who were generally both local or barefoot doctors analysed the functions and energy of the organs and began to register qi circulation and where it was prominent and deficient and realised the same time everyday their results were the same. From then onwards in medicinal texts and as practised today in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)treatments can be applied to certain times of the day to aid stronger results. These 2 hour segments also cater for emotional and mental health as well as the organ health and functionality too.

Image result for chinese clock

This diagram gives the basic idea of organs and their functionality in accordance to their allotted time’s in a 24 hour space.

It can be very informative to consider these times when doing your practice or even to view when best to perform certain daily activities to align with TCM principles of health. Traditionally in internal martial arts this knowledge would be used by fighting martial artists to ascertain what meridians would be at their weakest so to inform a fighter on how they should overcome an assailant or challenger in their pugilistic endeavours.

However today in TCM, Taiji/Qigong and even Taoist meditation this knowledge is often used to produce better results in development and health restorative issues more so.

When you practice Taiji or even consider your general activities of the day it can be useful to remind oneself of the time of day it is and how altering your practice can bring about more efficient results.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Easter Break: Dates

Posted March 23rd, 2018 in Holidays 2018, News, Newsletters and Notifications by Phil Vickery

Hi all,

The classes have now finished for the Easter break at Linkage and Bedminster as of today 23/03/18.

We will be resuming on Thursday 12/04/18.

We will be continuing the just started Da Lu Classes on Thursday and will be delving more into Push Hands also.

We will also be starting a 10 week review of Yang Cheng-fu’s 10 essential points of Tai Chi in the class to deepen our understanding of what it means to practice correct Tai Chi. The 10 essential points cover all bodily and mental functions required to keep our Tai Chi practice precise at all times. Yang Cheng-fu said by monitoring and maintain the 10 essential points our Tai Chi will never be incorrect in doing so. These 10 points of practice not only keep the body dynamic correct but the mental aspects too and therefore can open up the internal must quicker with relatively short practice. These essential points also come down through the lineage of Cheng Man-ching to Dr Chi Chiang-tao and through to Alan Peck.

Enjoy your breaks and practice well and remember always…….to relax.

 

Phil.

 

 

 

 

 

Update on class changes

Posted February 18th, 2018 in News by Phil Vickery

Here is a list of the last classes under the current structure within the school:

Monday 19th February 6:30pm – 8:00pm

Wednesday 21st February 8:00pm – 9:30pm

Thursday 22nd February 6:30pm – 8:00pm

 

After this date the new consolidated class will commence on:

Thursday 1st March 7:00pm – 8:30pm.

 

If you have any other issues you’d like to discuss then contact me direct.

Many thanks

Phil.

 

 

 

School class dates for Christmas break 2017

Posted December 10th, 2017 in Holidays 2017, News, Newsletters and Notifications by Phil Vickery

Dear all,

Please note that the last class before Christmas will be on Thursday 14th December 2017.

The first class back after the break will be Monday 8th January 2018.

Over the break remember that although a lot of your practice maybe be confined to indoors, due to the weather, try to make it consistent. A small amount of practice everyday is worth more than  a lot just one day a week. Time is a constraint which can seem like it reduces the opportunity for regular practice. However this can be overcome by a change in habits. Both by a) making a commitment to a small amount of daily practice and b) taking the actions and chores you already do on a daily basis and doing them with Tai Chi principles can go a long way.

If we separate our Tai Chi practice from the rest of our life it can become overly exclusive, and then we can find difficulties in relating what we learn in class to how it applies to the rest of life. Tai Chi is a method for attaining that which is natural and sincere. We therefore must become curious about how Tai Chi can positively invade every aspect of our lives and how it can improve it for the better. In this way we see how what we already have in life elevates towards greater sincerity.

So whilst feeling like cabin-fever sets in over the colder months, we can research and analyse the spaces in our lives where Tai Chi has not yet been allowed to enter. With all physical movements and actions distinguish between full and empty; try to create continuous movement where the joints don’t close and muscles don’t work independently; try to use sensitivity in touch and perform actions with central alignment in the spine. With thoughts and emotions try to act as if you were sticking in partner practice and be calm and receptive allowing your partner to make the first move so you can interpret and read their actions to yield to, if necessary. If the mind gets tense in a situation imagine just like if you have been pushed in Push Hands in that you try to relax as quickly as possible after the moment occurs. Try to regain your root mentally in difficult situations and allow the emotions to subside naturally so as not obscure what the external is really presenting to us.

These methods are all in the form, weapons and partner work of the form, and can also and quickly blend in with the rest of our lives with commitment and a little practice.

Most of all over the break if you spend time with family and friends take good care to let them know you support them and are of service to them for their needs if you are in a stronger or more stable position than them so as to recognise the Yin and Yang of relationships.

The heart, mind, body and spirit is nourished by Tai Chi practice, and life requires that the heart, mind, body and spirit are at their best to attain that which is natural and sincere. So enjoy your break and find ways in which to can practice and create happiness for anyone you come into contact with, always.

Much Love to all students

Phil and Chris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September term class start back

Posted September 3rd, 2017 in Holidays 2017, News, Newsletters and Notifications, Uncategorized by Phil Vickery

As a reminder classes start back on Monday 11th September @ 6:30pm.

With the most of Summer had we enter into a phase where Yang energy is still high but no long at it’s zenith and is starting to conclude it’s elevated state to join into Autumn after where it declines and levels out with Yin qualities with a balancing effect.

Whilst we still have Yang our practice can continue with large open postures and expansive intention with each joining movement in the form. Connecting to our environment far and wide with our practice can be beneficial to the mind as well as the body, greatly, at this time in the year. So even though the term starts back let’s all still try to practice outdoors whilst we can and connect far and wide into our environments to exercise Shen (Spirit) in our forms.

Enjoy the sun (in between the windy and wet bits of weather) and i’ll see you on Monday to start the term back.

 

Phil.

 

 

 

 

 

Hipsters of the world unite and take over.

Posted April 14th, 2017 in News, Push Hands, Reference Material, San Sou, Short Form, Sword Form, Uncategorized by Phil Vickery

In the  Tai Chi classics there is great mention of the hips or waist and the importance it plays in our Tai Chi practice. Yang Cheng-fu draws two of his 10 Golden rules of Tai Chi together to highlight this when he speaks of Loosening the Waist and uniting both upper and lower parts of the body. These 2 particular points have a special relationship in helping the body work as one unit.

This is not just for form practice but actually for all Tai Chi whether it’s open hand forms (Short and Long), Weapons forms and Push Hands too. Why are the hips and waist so important?

The hips/waist are at the bottom of the spine and therefore are the foundation for everything that happens in the upper body. However the hips/waist also sit on top of the legs and also act as the gateway to allow our root from the feet that then channels all movement up the legs to pass onto the spine. It’s like a lock-gate that you would see on a canal system on the river ways in that it controls what passes through it. Again the classics speak very clearly on how we transmit the force for all Tai Chi movement in our body when it says Qi is rooted in the feet; channelled  through the legs; directed by the waist onto the spine and then is expressed in the hands and fingers by way of the arms.

A common feeling in practitioners who cannot feel the whole body as one unit is that the legs move and the upper half of the body including the arms move separately. This is because the waist is closed and does allow the unification of upper and lower.

If we forcibly turn our waists with strength then we usually close it and we still keep the upper and lower separated. However if we sink our waist and hips, and like Tai Chi teachings make it feel like a ball on water i.e. frictionless, then we open it and can allow all the work we do with our feet connected to the ground to transmit naturally up through to the spine.

Push Hands is an excellent opportunity to learn how to loosen the waist and make it feel like a ball on water. In Push Hands we need to unite the sensitivity of the upper half of the body with the work done by the lower half of the body for yielding and attack to be successful. Yes, you’ve guessed it, the key to this is the loosening of the waist. In this way the hips/waist have 2 functions:

  1. As mentioned their looseness allows us to make 2 separated movements of upper and lower into one whole body movement through connecting them together.
  2. The loose turning of the waist is how we yield and neutralise an opponents attack.

When the lower lumbar of the spine is closed the backside protrudes a little and this is a physiological sign that the Tailbone/Coccyx known as the Wei-Lu in Tai Chi and Chinese Medicine has not sunk downwards to help lower alignment of the spine. Some Tai Chi schools of thought say we must tuck the Wei-lu down and in, which is not entirely correct. If we do this physically and with force tension can still be held and the waist actually can still remain closed. So we sink our mind intention or Yi down through the whole pelvis, and the effect can be felt very subtly at first of the Wei-lu dropping and an opening or greater connection from the legs up onto the spine. This opens up and connects upper and lower as Yang Cheng-fu instructs us. When we walk around in our normal lives it is a significantly valuable practice to sink the mind down through the pelvic region and let go of the waist all the time to open up the hips/waist.  This allows us to develop it as a good habit, and when we practice any form solo or with a partner we must try to do the same.

The other benefit of doing this, in and outside of our Tai Chi practice, is that it keeps the mind quite low in the body and thus naturally allows us to sink the Qi and reduce upper body tension, which is good for Tai Chi in general as well as our health. So in summary, the hips/waist help us to advance in our practice in all areas in Tai Chi and also help provide a better quality of health too. So make it your habit to loosen the waist, unite the upper and lower body into one and for Qi and internal force to take over tension and dissolve it so nothing obstructs your internal practice and experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!