All the time, every time.

Posted November 24th, 2018 in Newsletters and Notifications, Reference Material by Phil Vickery

An essential Tai Chi principle which is often espoused is moving the whole body as one unit, and like many concepts in Tai Chi it has a deeper meaning than on may imagine at first.

For some it may refer to linking up all movement so it seems combined or unified. Making sure the lower half of the body isn’t separate from the upper half. This is true but this idea is only part of the picture and one can feel they’ve achieved the goal of “body as one unit” when their external form looks like it’s all one continuous movement to bystanders watching.

However the meaning and function of this principle goes deeper and is more far reaching for our Tai Chi practice. This is because Tai Chi has many layers like the skins of an onion or a deeply plotted story of a book which then at the end reveals the essence of what it’s all about.

Why do we want all our movement to be as one unit or look connected? Well not because by doing it means we get all the benefits from Tai Chi or that our Tai Chi is correct, but rather the reverse. When our Tai Chi is correct and beneficial our practice will be “body as one unit”. Similarly like some practices in Buddhism for example the result is the method of practice to a degree and we practice the result in order at times to backtrack the experience to correct any faults as a whole.

However body as one unit means that the body is free of isolated tension to allow the smooth single wave of force/movement that is rooted in the feet; channelled up the legs; directed by the waist; discharged from the spine and expressed in the hands. To arrive at that state of practice more consistently we some times focus on areas of tension in our body to dissolve problem areas to clear the whole foot-to-hand pathway and thus allow the natural whole body movement unobstructed. Those tensions that block the way can be seen be viewed as debris on a motorway for example like maybe a tree that’s fallen onto the road or the result of motorway incidents that then slow down all oncoming traffic or even bring it to a complete halt. Injuries or isolated and concentrated exercises or lifestyle practices can contribute to these motorway blockages of the body if they go out of balance.

Tai Chi and Qigong can be seen as the clearing up process of the motorway which frees up the traffic to move back to it’s natural speed and capacity of movement again. So does this mean we should only engage in Tai Chi when there’s a problem with this issue. or only practice Tai Chi up until we do have body as one unit?

All roads are maintained regularly and constantly ( although in Bristol you may be forgiven for thinking otherwise!) and thus the practice for clearing the road and regulating the traffic flow in our bodies should be a constant practice even when we have good health. This also allows us to analyse and maybe refine our practice to develop better and deeper ways to maintain the path and traffic in the body for the future and enhance it further.

Solution:

  1. So in our practice we know the route all Tai Chi movement from ever posture takes therefore with our mind we can constantly run through the route as a fact finding mission to feel if there are any areas of stiffness or tension that regularly crop up. Doing this regularly everyday means we keep an eye on long term areas or difficulties that we can label as “under-construction” as we maintain our daily practice and new faults that occur that need attention.
  2. Once we recognise the area and issue along the route try to find the remedy/solution to it. If it is a facet developed through certain practices or postural off-sets then going back to the basic principles of central alignment, sung ( or sunk relaxation in the whole body) can help us in ironing out how the skeleton and muscles co-ordinate the flow of movement for many issues.
  3. Make you practice is regular of the remedy or antidote for the localised issue. Remember small amounts of constantly practice can bring about benefits quicker than large amounts done irregularly as Tai Chi’s benefit;s are considered to be accumulative and building upon repeated practice.
  4. Finally keep a watchful eye on how the practice  is developing. Improvements in Tai Chi should never really feel like a surprise or an accident that has suddenly occurs (however this can be the case sometimes). The result is the practice and it logically does the job it is set out to achieve in terms of clearing the blocks and strengthening the traffic, so the benefits that manifest should be embraced.
  5. As mentioned this shouldn’t be done only when we are developing or have a specific health issue, but this should be done all the time and every time, every day.

Constant practice may seem like a chore in order to receive the benefits of Tai Chi but in truth if we separate our Tai Chi from our day to day living of life it will seem exactly like that. Sometimes it may feel like once I get back to good health I can get back to enjoying my life and do the things I’ve always wanted to concentrate on for enjoyment and pleasure. However Tai Chi and its benefit’s ARE the pleasure of living life and are not a compartmentalised choice in life. They are one in the same thing and when Tai Chi principles are a habit they function the same way as breathing does for the lungs it is natural and doesn’t require any extra thought.

When you have body as one unit you can realise and feel very clearly why it is essential to maintain it and the benefit of having it all the time every time you make any body movement. It makes sense why it’s good for whole bodily health; it makes fighting application’s in Tai Chi clear to understand and appreciate and it also allows the mind to transform its understanding in the natural interconnectedness of everything external to the body as well.

As I said “body as one unit” isn’t about making the bodily movements look good enough to put out a DVD on Tai Chi and make it a best seller or to impress members of the public in a local park so that they view you as a guru or spiritually deep person. It is merely to be true in essence and clear away both the physical, emotional and psychological debris on the pathways to return back to free flowing internal traffic and get about with the business of being natural: all the time, every time you make a move in your life.

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.