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
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)
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.
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
Alan from our Fairfield class taking his Taiji to the edge on holiday
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
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
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
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?
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
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
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.
Who wants to live forever? Think we all do so long as it's got quality. Check out this article
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!