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Posted September 9th, 2020 in Uncategorized by Phil Vickery

Ups and Downs…and Ups.

Posted August 6th, 2020 in Uncategorized by Phil Vickery

Tai Chi is an internal art and when one makes advancements in it brand new worlds open up. We could say with the closing down of incorrect practice and old habits, the truth opens up in our practice. It is important, now more than ever, to regularly consult the Tai Chi classics in your personal practice to keep in check that your Tai Chi is correct.

Words and books and even videos are helpful in our practice but they can never be a substitute for actual practice, which cumulatively, will reveal the secrets of the internal. A teacher is necessary to get you through the door of the internal but after that, you too must become your own teacher as well. Experience of your practice will directly help you understand what internal is and how it can be utilised for health, martial art and spiritual endeavours too.

As an example, sinking the qi down the front channel of the body to the Dan Tien (the centre of gravity in your body, detailed by internalists as about 3 finger widths beneath the navel and 3 finger widths inside the body), and then down to the feet causing it effortlessly to the rise up the back channels of the body out to the hands, may seem like an idea at first and nothing much more. However when you can experience the whole body act of this happening with the Yi (intention) guiding the wave of movement around the body, it becomes suddenly real and very tangible. It feels very pleasant and on achieving this major internal goal in our Tai Chi practice it teaches us exactly how can be used for health and martial art just because it exists. This is example is the description of the mind mobilising the internal force used within all martial applications and push hands. If used in a standing posture it becomes very pleasant and opens the body up making it lighter and pliable. It heightens the sensitivity so vital for listening and sticking methods in push hands.

Again these are merely words describing a level in Tai Chi that can be achieved. To actually experience it in your Tai Chi form and partner practice suddenly gives a whole new dynamic to your practice and sets the minds curiosity on an even higher level of adventure and development. However, with all realisations and movements from one level of Tai Chi to another it is common to feel (usually just before it) that our Tai Chi isn’t going anywhere and has become unsatisfactory. Here is where regular practice and consulting the classics can help us overcome any negative thinking that may impede progress to higher levels.

As is explicit with the Tai Chi diagram itself of the Yin and Yang, there cannot be progress without falling down first. Or, to be more motivational, practice can seem hard and of little benefit at times. We can go in and out of highs and lows in our personal development in Tai Chi until we come over the horizon and make big leaps in shifting evermore from outside to inside, external to internal. Remember it has always been viewed like peeling the layers of an onion in Tai Chi development until you reach the fresher and more original juice of the onion. So it is the same in our practice from external muscular strength, to softer yielding strength, to energetic modes (Jin, Qi and Yi). to mental levels and spirit level. Finally our Tai Chi becomes as natural as the seasons turning and night and day switching around.

SO never be disheartened when you take a low in your practice. Consult the classics, when the teacher is unavailable, and allow the words to be absorbed. The actual literal translation of the words into your experience will be useful on one level, but allow and expect their truth to reveal their deeper meaning in your regular practice. A down will always eventually provide an up, so stay true to that natural oncoming reward, and an up will always provide us with a down, which should always be an opportunity to learn more and release unnecessary obstacles.

Being at home…with the Tao

Posted June 5th, 2020 in Uncategorized by Phil Vickery

I wanted this third lockdown article to be more advisory as several months have passed since we’ve all been together in a class. I thought it might be best to remind us all of basic, and advanced, principles of practice. Whilst the local and international world around us has gone through a lot of change, our practice of the principles should remain even if we are spending most of days in our home.

If we forget a posture or even many of them in a form this is ok, because it is the principles of practice which are the core of our development, and even if we have one form or a hundred forms, principles are what develops whatever we have.

The Lower body: –

1) The feet and legs are like the base of a pyramid with the peak being the Dan Tien (centre of gravity just below the navel and above the hips). The feet and legs constantly flux between the Yin and Yang of Full and Empty, this is what makes the body travel and transport itself. The internal force we generate always comes from pushing off a full foot/leg, and like water through a garden hose transport our effort into the upper body.

2) Remember the waist is like a ball on water, frictionless and set in motion with the slightest of movement, so always keep it loose and pliable. It is the waist that gives us direction when it smoothly turns allowing the force generated below to enter the upper body and exit through the arms and hands.

The Upper body: –

1) The abdomen is full and relaxed allowing the force to transport its unbroken momentum up through the larger and lower vertebrae of the spine upwards.

2) The shoulders hang down through the joints open on the upper back, yet with the sternum and heart area soft and unobstructed. The armpits are open so the arms are distanced from the upper ribs, relaxed but not tightly held.

3) The arms are lengthened but not held tense so they feel lengthened and open at the joints. The internal force that travels up the spine, needs to pass through the ball and sockets of the shoulder joints to sink down the upper arm, and continue their journey filling out the arms as an application’s force exits at the wrist and hands.

The Mind: –

1) Yi/Intention is crisp and clear in initiating all movement from the feet but also in following the internal movement along the pathways above until discharged and the wrist and hands.

2) Shen/Spirit is the quality of mind and consciousness at all times which feels expansive yet still, calm yet ready, rooted internally yet perceiving externally. Shen is the quality of aliveness. The very act of consciously knowing just how alive you are indicates your Shen is healthy.

3) Qi and Jin are the form and function of the internal movement required to move the body internally. Qi is the substantial feeling of internal movement, the vehicle of internal force, and Jin is the mode or shape in how it manifests when moving. Qi can be likened to just internal movement, we could analogise it as a car. With that, Jin would then represent what make of car it is and how fast or slow it is going and in what direction. Jin is also the end product of where and why you wanted to take the car out for a drive in the first place. From a martial art point of view, because of their shape, all postures emit their own Jin in accordance to their shape. Qi is the wave of internal force moving in the body but it’s shape, function and discharge is the Jin.

Remember the body moves as one unit, not like in a rusted and semi-seized up robotic fashion but fluid like a cup of water. If one molecule of water changes its position in the cup, every other molecule must respond appropriately. If one part moves every part should move and if one part stops every part should stop.

Always remember that at all times the body is relaxed. However for Tai Chi we actually go a step further than that and we try to cultivate what is called Sung. This is a little more than just giving up of strength, yet at the same time it can only be achieved if you do anyway. A good way to describe it is everything in the body accords to gravity, and it feels like the muscles and organs almost hang downwards inside the body. Again this is not with force but actually through releasing tension. This allows us to have no obstructions for the upwards force of Qi and Jin when doing applications. Sung usually needs to be revisited often as tension can come back again in seconds after we feel we’ve released it. With practice we can maintain the feeling of Sung all day long, and internally our body will remain unobstructed from tension. This is the way we can do Tai Chi all day everyday and make our normal bodily movements our spontaneous Tai Chi forms. This is what Master Alan Peck referred to when he said make your every day life your Tai Chi; and your Tai Chi your everyday life. There should be no on and off switch between them, you should find they are the same way of living.

I will write more articles whilst we are away from each other, and the class room, and please remember you can ring or text me anytime to chat Tai Chi and non- Tai Chi, but remember, in truth they are the same 🙂

Persistence…

Posted May 16th, 2020 in Uncategorized by Phil Vickery

I hope you are all ok and that you are mainting good health practices both for yourselves and loved ones during thse unique times?

I thought I’d just say a few words about persistence to help encourage us all, as well as myself too as the duration of lock-down expands. Whenever it drops off, and in the full knowledge of it being safe to return to classes, we should rejoice that we have come through this pandemic and remind ourselves of living our lives no matter under what circumstances prevail.

Our Tai Chi practice is always about persistence and accumulative gain and insight. The gain I speak of is the benefits from regular practice which is a little hypocritical because I use the word gain, where I really mean we carve away and reduce all habits and practice which are not useful to us. What is left behind in our practice is pure and natural and it is that which we really benefit from even more. That which is correct and natural is the essence of the correct teachings, and without regular classes I do not wish you to feel that you will stray off into incorrect Tai Chi and miss the benefits. It took me many years to realise what I had from Master Alan Peck and to what further revealed itself in my personal practice after his passing.

The persistence in practice is the golden key to developing Tai Chi and unlocking it’s teachings to yourself. If in doubt go back to the basic principles, plus you can always chat with me too.

Over the years, myself and Chris, have relayed a lot of information on the website which has come from our study and realisation in Tai Chi. It has also been directly transmitted from Alan too through our time with him, so the website is a very good reference for your practice as well. Persistence is the foundation for forming habits. This extended time away from the class is also a good experience to solidify and build upon new expanded habits of practising not just more hours of Tai Chi a week, but deeper quality of practice for the time you do practice it.

I will be adding to the website more regularly from here onwards whilst we are parted from class gatherings to try and instil further information and references to how we can persist, be patient and keep developing our understanding of Tai Chi, whilst receiving more benefits from it.

Remember you can always give me a ring if you want to chat direct to me, or text me whenever.

Love to you all and I’ll be back on this site with more information for you to mull over very soon.

Phil.

Patience……

Posted April 2nd, 2020 in Uncategorized by Phil Vickery

For some, there may be no other time in their lives than tight now to experience this degree of enclosure and a lessening of liberty. When walls, floors and ceilings seem closer and tighter than ever, it is easy for the mind to follow that illusion and contract and shrink as well. The mind, in its natural state, should feel unaffected by parameters, but does and because of the limits we place on it, or the life experiences we’ve come through.

COVID – 19 is such a parameter, but is not an illusion that the mind should deny or ignore. It is a parameter because if held, conceptually, in a state of imbalance the mind will respond and emotions too can get out of balance.

It is important to follow the correct health guidelines in order to both prevent infection, and deal with it if one does catch the virus also. So preventative and distancing measures logical can show us how me must alter our lives, temporarily, in order to minimize catching it. However, there is an effect from the existence of this current illness that we can take full control of, and that is how it affects our mind state and emotions.

We all have experiences of past occurrences where our emotions have gone to excess in either positive and negative directions. These can be instigated internal and/or externally. When an emotion rears up it is like looking at an exotic and beautiful animal, we become completely absorbed and drawn into it’s existence and all else (in terms of awareness) shrinks away. This imbalance and fear always can get out of check when we are overcome in this way, and the natural empty clear mind state with a natural presence just vanishes….or so it would seem.

The natural empty state of mind of pure perception and real time experience is always there to be perceived and joined with. It is, with practice, of frequently visiting that state that it becomes our most easily accessible mode, yet illusive if infrequently visited. When the natural state of mind is rifled through and disturbed emotions are woken up and depending on our mental practice it may take a long time to settle them back again. This re-settling time can be reduced with regular meditation and/or Tai Chi practice.

I was once told development in Tai Ch/Meditation is like watching a glazier slowly melt. Drip, drip, drip….drip, drip it continues and then in time a huge chuck off ice falls away and crashed into the water. Patience in your regular practice is the secret to results, and diligence in practising correctly. Laziness, or the growth of disinterest in practice, can always come about to us all at different times. With this we must always remember why we are doing it the practice and analyse what we have at that time. The emotional feeling of not feeling like anything has occurred or no development has arrived is very common and every single Meditation/Tai Cho practitioner goes through this phase, sometimes several times. However having patience is what delivers us to the results.

For however long we remain isolated in our houses away from our loved ones, yet distancing ourselves from the virus as it makes it way through lives, be patient. The good things in life we can barely touch from a distance, or even not at all currently, will return and will feel richer and more valuable when we come back to them. Patience yields results, have patience in yourself and your own calm unafflicted nature. This is the way to practice.

Master Alan Peck

Posted March 3rd, 2020 in Uncategorized by Phil Vickery

12/01/1948 – 03/03/2010

Founder of Natural Way Tai Chi

Student of:

Master John Kells

Grand Master Dr Chi Chiang-tao

Grand Master Dr Shen Hongxun

Me and Alan hiding at the back in Tony William’s weekend energy/health seminar.

Tai Chi at 10pm…

Posted July 22nd, 2018 in Uncategorized by Chris Hill

I’m finding health benefits from doing Tai Chi as the night draws in, 10pm ish. It’s Improving my sleep and it feels like I’ve had a body massage upon waking.  The air is fresh and the stillness aids my practice-may I suggest you try it.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Injury prevention and body management

Posted September 29th, 2017 in Uncategorized by Chris Hill

Having participated in numerous vigorous activities in recent times, such as football, mountain biking and Brazilian Jujitsu I can say with confidence that Tai Chi has been a fantastic method for injury prevention and recovery.  I have sustained muscles injuries and several other niggles. I have been aware of when to use my body and when not too, in order to allow it to rest and I put a large percentage of this down to Tai Chi as it has made me more mindful of HOW my body is doing at that moment.

Having spent over 20 years pracitcing Dr Chi`s and Alan Peck brand of Tai Chi I feel that it has help reduce damage, encourage youthful mantainence and body management.  The softness found in this system I have not encountered in ANYTHING else ever yet (other Tai Chi, yoga or general physical exercise).  In short DR Chi/AlanTai Chi helps you keep your body (in order to enjoy and participate in things you enjoy).

Clearly one has to practice in order to get benefits….But in order to eat healthy one has to eat more than one healthy meal a week!, so practice and try Tai Chi as a method for recovery and injury prevention if like me you like vigorous activites.

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.