Bits and Pieces

Welcome to our page of Bits and Pieces.

Things we found/wrote that we hope you will find of interest, we share more (inc videos) on facebook so go and enjoy and don't forget to give us a like

In our classes we emphasise the principles needed to gain Taiji skill as we have learned from our long term teacher Master Wang Haijun that there is no point knowing lots of different forms until they are built on a good foundation.
He says the five most important skills for beginners are Fang Song (loosening the body by relaxing the joints), Peng Jin (outward supportive strength, the basic skill of taiji), Ding Jin (being upright and straight), Chen (rooted) and Chan Si Jin (silk reeling skill).
To quote Master Wang "These beginners’ skills are complimentary to each other and are acquired slowly with persistence of practice. Understanding what they are does not come all at once. With the aid of a teacher, the mind grasps a bit of the idea first. Then, with considerable practice, the body gets the idea. Then with lots more practice it becomes a part of a person. It is not like a light switch, being either on or off, although some part of learning these skills can seem that way. Only when the body understands at a certain level can the mind grasp what is beyond that level. It is not possible to jump to a full understanding. It is not a mental trick, or something to do with intellect or high intelligence. It is a process that has many possible detours and no short cuts."
Master Wang Haijun adjusting Jian Taiji teacher Ian

Taiji practice is a journey, one personal to each practitioner. After all we start from different places and have different strengths and weaknesses.
As we progress it's important not to compare your self/level to other students, either positively or negatively. Not to focus externally but internally - it's not like knowing (or thinking you know) how your Taiji is in relation to others changes it.
Taiji, like life, is not a straight path. We just need to keep moving forward one step at a time, whether you are currently in a valley or on a mountain top, and remember to enjoy the journey.
Jian Taiji in China


We had some class discussions recently about the subtleties and importance of chan si jin (silk reeling), after all the 16th generation scholar Chen Xin declares that "Taiji is the art of silk-reeling"
Simply put silk reeling is the spiralling/twining force created by the correct movements of Chen Taiji when all the joints rotate in a unified manner.
While the spiral is most obviously seen in the turning of the arms, eventually it should start in the dantien moving through the torso and up and down the legs as well as the arms.
Inevitably the whole body should be like a full ball with the ability to rotate cohesively in any direction - horizontal, vertical, forward, backward, side to side utilising the 3 circles as demonstrated in class

Nature showed us it's power this week with storms causing burst river banks and uncontrolled surges. When harnessed, these elemental forces of nature can be useful but they can also be destructive when unrestrained.
This is reflected in the natural power we generate through our Taiji movements, we need to keep the flow regulated and directed through the correct channels to get the best results.
If we have the correct alignment, the correct structure, we can open the gates (joints) to promote unimpeded energy but if our movements are inaccurate and unconnected we can create "surges" or "burst banks" within our bodies not only creating a loss of power but also causing damage and "sticking points".
So remember that water always finds a way, let's make sure it's the right way


Chen Taijiquan is often described as "high as a mountain, deep as the ocean" as the system has many branches ranging from standing mediatation, open hand forms, weapons, push hands, sparring, applications.....
But to quote our teacher Master Wang Haijun
"the kind of strength and movement that are developed in Taiji are hard to describe in words and must be experienced through long term practice which facilitates a deep body understanding. When the foundation work is done the root becomes strong, the internal Qi becomes full and then the other forms are easy and simple"
So keep on keeping on

Master Wang Haijun, Ian Murray, Janet Murray Jian Taiji


Taijiquan can be hard to categorise, especially to non-participants. Is it a sport, an exercise class or just a solo dance routine?
For those who delve deeper into the art it is much more than words can easily describe, although it can be said to be the ultimate form of self defence, both physically and mentally.
The skills you gradually develop are skills for your whole life not just your Taiji practice. Creating balance is the key, nothing to excess or defecit. You learn when to yield and when to move forward as the situation requires. You learn to be centred and rooted so that you can be agile and adaptable.
By absorbing Taiji into your life you become aware that, to quote Sir Edmund Hillary "It's not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves"

In this time of lockdown, many of you have been widening your horizons via YouTube which has prompted questions about why there are so many variations of Chen style Taijiquan.
This reminded us of training with Zhang Xuexin, senior student of Feng Zhiqiang, many many years ago...
He teaches Feng's Hunyuan Chen style which looks very different externally but Zhang explained "The Chen style has changed from time to time, but if it is studied correctly then all the internal essence and silk reeling power will be developed. It is not important that the outside may look a little different, the important thing is that the power inside does not get lost. The internal power has to be Chen style power, pure."
He went on to say "there are two important things that people miss in their Taiji practice.
The first is that they must be relaxed and use Yi, or mind, and qi, not muscle strength. To use Yi and qi is to use the mind and nervous system and not the muscles.
The second is that the spirit has to be relaxed when you practise the form. Don't have any other thoughts except what you are doing and don't have an angry face. Just feel comfortable.
Being quiet inside, you still remain alert"

When you're learning Taiji, you're slowly changing an old you for a new one. One that is more flexible, lively and stronger. But this takes time and effort as you undo the long term knots and open your body.
Some of you have told us of your admirable New Year resolutions to practice every day... keep it up, the changes are starting to show.
As one of you exclaimed at the end of a class this week "I feel fantastic" and who wouldn't want to feel like that every day

We have had some great success stories from students recently, one who used to suffer from serious migraines but has not had any at all since starting Taiji with us, another who needed regular cortisone injections in her shoulder for years and has become pain free since attending our classes and a couple of students who were sent for physio for joint conditions and were prescribed more Taiji instead.

Some amazing results and they have all come about from regular attendance and practice of the time honoured art of Chen Taiji.
Keep it up and keep those success stories rolling in...

During our time learning Taiji we have found that getting personal feedback allows for better progress along the path. After all we all have different proportions, body shapes and habits built up from our life experiences so it makes sense that we all need different adjustments.
Our first taste of this was when Chen Bin (Chen Zhenglei's son) was studying in Manchester in the late 90's. Being young he was quick to point out that he was not a teacher but was happy to get together and train with us a few times a week and share the knowledge his father had given to him. He was proud of his family heritage and wanted us to get the most out of our practice.. so much so that one week he watched us do a whole yilu making notes and on our next get together presented us each with hand written notes on our strengths and weaknesses and what we should work on...
Lots of students mistakenly view corrections and adjustments as a negitive when in reality we should all embrace them and value the insights they give us into our practice and ourselves.
We still look forward to our regular feedback from Master Wang in our 1:2 sessions (although some of our body parts not so much) as we know that working on these details is what will transform us from lumps of coal into polished diamonds, and we pass this forward in our teaching as everybody should have the opportunity to become diamonds

According to GM Chen Zhenglei, learning the form should develop to the point where it almost becomes a part of you "Then you don't have to think too much about what the next movement is going to be. At any time, you can always separate out any movement to understand it better.
"It is all a process. The method is to train the whole form first so you get the body to flow, otherwise you are not achieving the whole training.
"After you understand the whole form, then you can take the movement and break it apart and understand what it is and how it works."
(Below, being shown how it works by CZL, China 1997)

tai chi taiji class with Chen Zheng Lei China

So it's goodbye to Reddish Community Centre and hello to New Bairstow Centre
Final class at RCC last night as we move to our new bigger venue at the New Bairstow Centre, Rupert St (opposite Morrisons), Reddish, SK5 6DL from Nov 19.

last tai chi class at reddish community centre

Jan and John were so keen to keep up with their Taiji practice on holiday in China that they booked a couple of classes with a Chen teacher in Yangshuo.
Well done for the committment... and for spreading the Jian Taiji name in China

Jian Taiji Manchester students china class

Alan from our Fairfield class taking his Taiji to the edge on holiday

student from tameside tai chi class

One week back and lovely to hear how much so many of you missed your regular class... and even better are asking to attend more than one class a week.
In life we all prioritise the things we value, and as more of you are appreciating the value Taiji brings to your lives the more determined you are not to let things get in the way of your regular attendance and practice.
Well done and keep it up as increased commitment = increased benefits

We're back on Monday... and inspired by our visit to Ingleton Falls seeing and feeling the power of water in action.

To quote Lao Tzu “Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.” Very Taiji


With holiday season upon us, we were reminded of an encounter with a Chinese lady while in Spain about 15 years ago.
We had found ourselves a training spot tucked away on a bit of wasteland behind some shops and went there in the early evening to practice.
At this time we were learning the sabre (dao) form with Master Wang, however we didn't have room in our bags for our full size sabres so we improvised and took our telescopic swords (jian) instead.
A Chinese lady passed by most evenings and usually paused to watch for a few minutes before continuing on her way. One evening we were going through the sabre form (with swords) when she paused but instead of continuing on came towards us with a concerned expression on her face.
She spoke Cantonese and Spanish, neither of which we spoke, but with Taiji movements as our universal language we eventually realised that she thought we were either confused or had been badly taught a sword form using sabre techniques.
We tried explaining, demonstrating some sword as well, but to this day it was never clear whether she understood or just thought we were mad English people in the Spanish sun... but the bonus to the whole encounter was that it lead to her sharing her push hands skill with us

tai chi jian and dao sword and sabre

Just finished re-reading an article about the well respected late Chen stylist Gao Fu (1916-2005). It's amazing that she only started learning Chen Taiji after she retired at the age of 56 and still achieved an impressive level of skill, becoming one of GM Feng Zhiqiang's closest students.
It's good to know that whatever our age, there's hope for us all... Gao Fu considered herself a slow learner and "thick-headed" but still attained gong fu through sheer persistence.
We'll leave you with one of her favourite sayings:
"First let your outer practice transform your inner being. Then let your inner being lead your outer action."

This traditional wushu saying tells us the basic requirements for quan and should give you some inspiration for your practice -
"To walk as wind; to stand as a nail inserted into wood; to jump up as an ape; to drop down like an eagle; the fist should be as fast as a shooting star; the eye should be as sharp as electricity; the waist should move like a snake; the foot should be as stable as if it was glued to the ground."


Some holiday pics from Rob from our Reddish  class soaking up that Scottish Qi

tai chi student reddish stockporttai chi student reddish class stockport

A new recruit at Reddfest 2019,The Great get together & a Celebration of Reddish last Sunday with his eye on the sword form already...
Hope everybody who came along had a great day and thanks for your support

tai chi jian demonstration reddish stockport

Like any skill, it takes time and effort to truly learn Taiji. To quote the great Pele -
“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do”
Hopefully you all love doing Taiji or you would not keep going to classes, but a common thing we hear from students is that they can not remember all the details we give them when class has ended.
We recommend following the Chinese way of practicing as soon as possible after class to reinforce the information. In the parks in China the students remain after the teacher has left and can be seen going through the movements they reviewed that class. They see Taiji as a gift and an investment in themselves... how about you?

practicing tai chi in chenjiagou

Beautiful morning today for our first outdoor session of the year in the Art Garden at The Whitworth
So if you want to start your day with fresh air, nature and relaxing with some traditional Taiji come and join us on a Wed morning 8:30am - 9:30am

Tai chi class at whitworth art gallery manchestertai chi class whitworth art gallery manchester


May the 4th be with you

Taiji trains the mind as well as the body. It requires focus and discipline to develop in-depth awareness so the body can follow the Taiji principles in every movement.
The training of the mind in this way also improves your cognitive function which will help you in all aspects of your life as shown in this study…/a-sharper-mind-tai-chi-can…


One of the most enjoyable things about the art of Taiji is that you are always learning.
While you might feel that you will never get to grips with that next movement or integrate that new correction, it gets easier with every repetition... and it is the challenge that keeps it interesting.



According to GM Zhu Tian Cai, the biggest mistake students make is that they do not have fangsong, they do not relax their joints. Second, students do not understand the difference between substantial and insubstantial. They do not have a clear understanding of weight changes.
Some people have a good solid base, but the upper part of the body is not relaxed. If you can't differentiate between the substantial and insubstantial, you can't be lively. Your structure will be locked so you can't change.
Being solid and firm as a mountain does not refer to being rigid. It means you are very quiet and still inside your posture, but your movement still flows like a river.


GM Zhu Tian Cai

Who wants to live forever? Think we all do so long as it's got quality. Check out this article…/20120917/entlife/709179983/


In Chinese culture, Chen Taiji is considered a national treasure, something to be valued and respected.
Over it's long history Chen Taiji practicioners have endured great hardship to gain skill in their art and retain it for future generations. This was sorely tested during the Cultural Revolution when Taiji (along with all martial arts) was actively suppressed by the Red Guard under Chairman Mao. It's practicioners were persecuted with many tales of public humiliation and beatings, driving some to attempt to take their own lives or flee China. Practice was forbidden, only the dedicated and brave continued to teach and train in secret locations so the art of Taiji could survive.
This seems a million miles away from present day where you can find a Taiji class in every church hall or gym and people have the luxury of only attending a class that is convenient for them.
So when Master Wang starts his workshop tomorrow by paying respect to the Chen ancestors we should reflect and appreciate the journey that Taiji has taken to reach you!

Paying respects at GM Chen Zheng Lei's fathers tomb

jian taiji logo - tai chi classes in Manchester

Why choose 

Jian Taiji?

At Jian Taiji classes there are 2 fully qualified instructors who have been studying Chen Tai Chi since 1996. We offer progressive learning in a friendly atmosphere with personal feedback and corrrections to improve each students individual level of ability regardless of age or fitness.

Check out our class timetable to find a class near you.


Jian Taiji Chen Tai Chi classes in Manchester, Stockport and Tameside 0161 637 9508