"an alert, open, fluid mind ... allows you to flow from experience to experience without getting fixated or stuck." Meditation for Dummies
"The entire body is so light that a feather will be felt and so pliable that a fly cannot alight on it without setting it in motion." TaiJi Classics
I came across TaiJi (or TaiChi) through my interest in martial arts. I joined my university's TaiJi Society in 1998, later becoming part of the team who ran the Yang Style classes, and enjoyed the relaxing, poetically named and martially mysterious movements. I had practiced TaeKwonDo up to 'red tag' level in my late teens, and TaiJi seemed to be the direct opposite, even though I had heard that it had the potential to be a highly effective martial art.
After finishing university in 2002 and remaining in Bristol, UK, I could no longer continue to attend the classes, so I looked elsewhere in the city for competent teachers. Along with another Taiji fan, I helped to do the administration work for a new TaiJi class we set up with a Yang Style Taiji teacher called Karen. Those classes ran for around 6 months, but then Karen decided to leave the country. Adrift once again, I arrived at Mark Leonard's Chen Style classes - now the Bristol TaiChi Association.
|Mark Leonard, Karel Koscuba and Master Chen XiaoWang|
|Chen YingJun TaiJi Teacher from Chen Village, China.|
For years I 'flirted' with my TaiJi practice until I arrived at the YiQuan Academy in the countryside north of Beijing. See me YiQuan post for more about that.
I still practice a Chen Style short form and a short staff weapon form for flow and flexibility, and presently rely on YiQuan to give me internal power and conditioning.
|The author practicing the TaiJi move'snake creeps down' in a park in China.|
|Sun ZhiJun in BaguaZhang signature posture.|
|Sun ZhenZhen, daughter of Sun Zhijun.|
|Sun ZhiJun and student.|
|Author studying under Sun ZhiZhun's daughter, ZhenZhen.|
The joint 'open-ness' and flexibility required for good BaguaZhang and TaiJi is something which can often restrict Westerners, as I mentioned before in my YiQuan post, and it seems the lack of emphasis on static posture yoga exercises in most formally taught serious TaiJi and BaguaZhang can easily lead to physical problems. Sun ZhenZhen openly admitted to me that she had a knee problem due to forced flexibility over the years.
|A Daoist priest practicing BaguaZhang circle walking at White Cloud Temple (HQ of Daoism), Beijing, China.|