A Journal
 
This section of the Site may informally provide a little information about West Devon Tai Chi how came into being ~ what it is doing ~ and where it may be heading 

Roll With It

posted 8 Nov 2018, 09:22 by WestDevon Tai Chi   [ updated 8 Nov 2018, 09:26 ]

I am not much of a planner or a very organised person, as living in the now is a place that I endeavour to be most of the time. However, offering workshops to keen Tai Chi practitioners does involve some planning and organisational skills and, for the last two years, they have flowed really nicely up until last Saturday. On this occasion, Ben was all geared up to do his second workshop of the year and 19 of us were eagerly looking forward to a few hours of inspirational teaching. Rolling with it was put to the test that day though when Ben wife’s contacted me that morning to say he was really sick. With everyone arriving, I had two choices to send them away or step in myself. So with everyone being enthusiastic enough to stay we rolled with it!
 
Having just been up to Bristol the previous Sunday training with Ben, I focused on what I had picked up from that session; yet another understanding of relaxing the kwa or kua. This is the muscle on both sides at the inguinal crease at the top of the legs. Song Kwa-relaxing the kwa-is a term frequently mentioned in Taiji practice. The kwa facilitates coordinated upper and lower body movements. Through the relaxed kwa, together with the spiral turning of the waist, weight change in the lower body is smooth. Turning of the waist from left to right and the shifting of weight in the legs rely on the kwa being relaxed and loose. However, when the kwa are relaxed the weight burden on the legs increases! People often say to me-“I have strong legs”- but it soon becomes apparent that their concept of strong is totally different to the leg strength required for Taiji. Having done years of running I thought my legs were very strong but when Yuri introduced me to silk reeling, oh boy was I mistaken! Ben used the analogy of primary and secondary -primary being ‘off locking’ of the knees and secondary, relaxing the kwa-’sitting into your knickerline’-was a term Ben casually used, which has really stuck with me! Basically, you know when you have sat into it as you feel it in your thighs, they switch on! So, by doing standing mediation, silk reeling and the first few moves of the form we looked at relaxing the kwa. By the feedback afterwards it seems everyone had felt it in the legs-always a good sign you are getting the message across! 
 
Apart from being an intelligent system of exercise, the understanding of the underpinning philosophy can help one to grasp the fundamental aspect of the art. Like many ancient cultures, the Chinese philosophy is based on the concept of harmonizing with nature rather than dominating it in an effort to make it conform to human desires. One of the many things Taijiquan teaches us is to roll with changes, and what life guarantees us is that there will always be changes, positive and negative. It is the law of the universe, and the balance of yin and yang energies is always present.
 
Follow the rules, be flexable in applying them and remember,   

nothing is absolute
  (Chen Xiaoxing) 

Thank you to all who attended the workshop, for your support and words of encouragement, and so kindly donating towards the cost of the hall. Another date will be arranged for Ben, fingers crossed everyone will be able to come along but we will just roll with it!

Mandy-Instructor


Quiet Mind

posted 24 Oct 2018, 12:00 by WestDevon Tai Chi   [ updated 8 Nov 2018, 09:26 ]

The more I practise Taiji, the more I understand how important it is to find a way to quieten the mind. My daily Zhan Zhaung practise (standing meditation) can vary from day to day. It is all dependent on how long it takes to empty my head of the relentless thoughts. The mind just wants to chatter insanely! The other flip of the coin is the external distractions…can your mind be totally calm when your environment is noisy. Challenging indeed but something we continuously practise in Taiji. To remain in a calm and balanced state when everything around you is chaos is a must in today’s world.
 
Having just read Chen Taijiquan:  Masters and Methods by Davidine Siaw Voon Sim and David Gaffney - a book written over many decades interviewing some of the great Masters of Chen style - I would like to share one of the questions that was put to Chen Xiaoxing,  principal of the Chenjiagou  Taijiquan School and brother of Chen Xiaowang. 
 
Question: What state of mind should people have when they practise Taijiquan?
 
Chen XX:“Today’s society is very fast-paced with people experiencing pressures and demands from all sides, Consequently, many are looking for some form of activity that can ease the mind and allow them to pursue some form of self-expression. Taijiquan is ideal for this purpose. Taijiquan practise requires a calm state of mind that cannot be matched in any other type of exercise. It is a good form of aerobic exercise, while at the same time being extremely calm, slow and continuous. 
 
When training pay attention not to be disturbed by distractions. From the age of about thirteen to twenty, I trained with my eyes shut. In the beginning, I did this so I could shut out the distractions around me. By the time I was twenty it didn’t matter how chaotic the surroundings were; I would not be distracted, even with my eyes open. Although calmness is required while training, it does not mean the surroundings need to be quiet. Your mind should be quiet however noisy your surroundings. Because Taijiquan theory requires stillness within movement, it trains both internal and external aspects simultaneously. Externally, it trains the body; internally, it regulates the mental state. If we play a routine following all the requirements, then, even in the depths of winter, you will pour with sweat. Taijiquan is an excellent movement system for body sculpting, for maintaining a balanced state of mind, and for regulating the respiratory systems.” 

 
Taken from the same book are these words from Zhu Tiancai-“Possessing the ability to go into a quiet state is an integral part of practice. However, to be capable of truly being in a quiet state is dependent on the mind being free of anger, scheming, impatience, anxiety and other negative thoughts, directed either inward towards yourself or outward towards others.”
 
Reading these words really emphasised to me the importance of learning the skill to quieten the mind in all aspects of our Taiji practise. It is a vital tool for life and worth pursuing however challenging it may be. A Buddhist saying is=“our mind creates our world”. Our thoughts, if we let them, can create a reality that does not even exist! 
Your Biggest Opponent is Yourself (Chen Xiaoxing) 

To help us in our training of the mind, as well as the body, we see the welcome return of Ben Milton to Bratton Clovelly on Saturday, 3rd November. Some people have mentioned that a day workshop is too long for them so I have introduced the option of attending the morning only. Look forward to seeing you there-Ben’s wealth of knowledge and understanding will inspire us as always I am sure! 

Samhain blessings to you all
Mandy-Instructor


Wiggle Your Toes

posted 18 Sep 2018, 01:37 by WestDevon Tai Chi   [ updated 8 Nov 2018, 09:25 ]

“You should always be able to wiggle your toes”. These words were repeated again and again by Yuri when he returned to Bratton Clovelly Village Hall at the end of August to do another workshop for us. “If you cannot wiggle your toes freely, you are too much in your knees and they will hurt”. Simple stuff in theory but keeping that awareness when you are learning the moves can easily be lost…until your knees start to hurt of course! This was one of the main themes of the morning along with exercises to loosen and free up the muscles round the spine, Chi Gung exercises to balance the middle dantien, the first six moves, martial applications, demonstrations of internal strength-softness combined with dynamic power, plus an extra bonus half hour for some of us looking at push hands. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining workshop which proved to be another wonderful insight into the world of Taiji.

A couple of people have asked if they are missing out by not coming to the workshops; my immediate answer was to say yes but at the end of the day it is for you, the individual, to decide what you are looking for from learning Taiji. I am very fortunate, and privileged, to have met highly experienced teachers/mentors on my pathway to share and pass on their understanding and knowledge at these workshops. The aim of these sessions is for everyone to glean a deeper understanding for themselves from others that have walked the journey much, much longer than me. Also, there is only so much you can cover in a class so workshops provide an opportunity to study the foundations and moves at a deeper level.  I do my best to filter through what was covered but it is always more productive to one’s own learning to experience it firsthand, but if coming along to the weekly classes is enough for you that is fine. We are all on our journey.

The Lifton class continues to flourish with the same enthusiasm as when we first started in March; some have dropped out but new faces are always appearing. The change from afternoon to morning at Lydford has been really positive and hopefully sets everyone up for the rest of the day. Bratton classes are quieter but we are now into our third year so well done to the ones that have stuck at it from the start-keep with it we have nearly come full circle! As Yuri put it-“learning the moves when you first begin Taiji is not relaxing at all, just really frustrating-these words many of you will agree with I am sure! So for me, to see everyone helping each other and having fun on their Taiji journey is wonderful, and I thank you all for your continual support. Remember, the first steps are the hardest-be patient and give yourself time (plenty of time!) If you cannot make your regular class feel free to drop in to any of the other classes. One thing is for sure, whatever class you drop into we will all be wiggling our toes! 

Having just read an excellent book on Shamanism-Calling Us Home by Chris Luttichau-I would like to share these words about seeking deeper truth that  can be likened to the whole process of learning Taiji. Autumn Equinox Blessings to you all.

 
When you have understood something, you don’t stop there. You let go of the fact that you have understood it, and remain open to yet a deeper and truer level in your understanding, and this never ends.

Mandy-Instructor

Learning Taijiquan

posted 1 Aug 2018, 04:10 by WestDevon Tai Chi   [ updated 8 Nov 2018, 09:27 ]

“To learn Taijiquan means to educate oneself” (Chen Xiaowang)

Chen Xiaowang compares learning Taiji as going to school. In his words, it is like progressing from primary to university level, one gradually gathers more and more knowledge. Without the foundation gleaned from primary and secondary education, one will not be able to follow the curriculum of the university level. To begin with, the early days of learning are about building that foundation. As the average person’s disposition is at a more excitable level than is required in Taiji, ‘to begin with’ can mean quite a long time! When people first come along to my classes, they usually say they did not realise Taiji was so hard to learn. It requires patience, self-discipline, motivation and perseverance, so it is important to be aware of the enormous benefits the practise is bringing to all aspects of your life and on all levels- physical, emotional and spiritual- and to focus on the process and these benefits rather than an end result. There are no shortcuts and the process is very gradual. 

"A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step”
 
Getting rid of tension in the whole body is the key. The unnecessary physical and emotion tension we carry in our bodies is very taxing, a bit like driving a car with the brakes on all the time. The physical tension becomes habitual and leads to the misalignment of the joints, pelvis and spine. The first step, therefore, is to learn to loosen the body and release tension. Most of us live in our heads (in Chinese philosophy this is referred to as ‘monkey chatter’) so once we calm down and actually ‘find our body’ we start to experience our physicality as it really is and begin to learn how we move. This can be both wonderful and disconcerting all at the same time!
 
The moves of the Taiji form are essentially a matter of body memory. Conditioning the body to remember the moves can take many repetitions. The body memory is slow to develop but, like driving a car, the individual movements will eventually become second nature. As learning develops, a certain amount of change is inevitable, for if your practise had no effect you would probably stop trying but you cannot make it happen; you have to let it happen. How long the change takes to develop is down to the individual.
 
There is a very real sense in which an art such as Taiji cannot be ‘taught’ so much as ‘learnt'. Ultimately, it is your body that is your yardstick. A teacher is at best your guide, assistant and inspiration. For whatever your reasons for learning the wonders of this ancient and intelligent art, whether it be for health and fitness, relaxation or to even explore the martial side, do not be put off by having no time to practise or thinking you will never get it-you are what you think! Simply enjoy the wonderful journey at your own pace and natural ability and gradually it will come together- mind, body and spirit. You are your own teacher.
 
On Saturday, 25thAugust, my dear friend, Yuri, has offered to call in and do another workshop on route to Cornwall. As always, this workshop will be suitable for beginners and improvers. Yuri’s sessions compliment Ben’s workshops by focusing on particular topics and aspects of Taiji to enhance our learning and understanding of this art.
 
“Development in science is boundless as is the study of Taijiquan.
 
            Its wonders can never be expended in a lifetime”  (Chen Xiaowang)
 
It is great to see new faces at all of the classes. I always encourage them not give up too soon, as do all the regulars! It is tricky adapting a class to suit everyone but, most importantly, I strive to make sure everyone feels comfortable in their learning and am always open to listening what they feel works for them. Ben once told me to be creative in my teaching; for me, that means not planning classes but flowing with the moment by being in the now. It certainly works in the new Lifton class; a warm and friendly group with immense enthusiasm and smiling faces. Their support of the classes and workshops is amazing and really appreciated.
 
Last Sunday, I was informed of the passing of a dedicated member of the Lyford class, Keith Rogers. Having previously learnt another style of Taiji, he embraced the learning of the Chen style with the greatest enthusiasm and was constantly helping others. His wife said he was so happy to have found the class and enjoyed every moment. Our thoughts go out to all of his family at this sad time. It was a privilege to have known him and I am sure he will always be with us in spirit at Lydford. Lammas blessings to you all.
 
Check out this website for class times and details of forthcoming workshops. 

Mandy-Instructor

Staying Balanced

posted 22 Jun 2018, 10:23 by WestDevon Tai Chi   [ updated 23 Jun 2018, 02:07 ]


Hosting two workshops within a month of each other is not something I would usually do and, after so many came along to Yuri’s in May, I was not sure how the numbers would be when Ben returned to Bratton Clovelly last Saturday. Once again though, people from the Lydford and Lifton classes did us proud and we had another great turnout on the day.

Ben’s teaching of Taiji is clear and precise. His knowledge and training of this art spans over 40 years and with those years comes wisdom of how to teach in a simple and understandable way for all levels of ability. After a few introductory words and warm up exercises Ben got us straight into doing the Taiji form, taking us through many repetitions of some of the first 15 moves. The one certainty with Ben is that he keeps you entertained with his interludes of theory and analogies throughout the day which help to break up the ‘being taught and learning’ aspect of Taiji. The two main areas he focused on was the body being ‘Song’, the Chinese word for relaxed, and ‘Gong’, the Chinese term referring to any skill which is developed over time through hard work. He explained there were six stages of getting into ‘Song’ 

1.    Head up

2.    Shoulders down

3.    Chest empty

4.    Relax inside, stomach full

5.    Sink hips

6.    Listen behind

From my own experience and practice I appreciate how challenging the ‘listening behind’ can be. The way Ben helped us through getting to that place was only the second time I had heard him say it. The first mention of it had certainly not sunk in but on this occasion, it went in deeper and when I am able to bring my mind there, away from external distractions, it is what I can only describe as ‘moments of bliss’ of being in the now; a oneness of mind, body and spirit.

He went on to help us understand that accumulating ‘Gong’ means acquiring the motor skills, strength and balance to perform Taiji and there are many stages of development. Further to this is the mental discipline or ‘Gong’ of the mind which, when developed, helps the mind and spirit to maintain balance and calmness, helping us make the right decisions in life and keeping us on our true path.

We had plenty to take in through watching and listening but as I always say to everyone it is impossible to absorb it all but slowly you lay the foundations and build up more of an understanding of the nature of learning Taiji. When practising in pairs there was lots of cheerful banter and fun, clearly a good sign that everyone was enjoying the process of learning! As always, the feedback has been brilliant and we look forward to Ben returning on 4th November.

When I held my first class at Bratton Clovelly I had no expectations as to where I was going with it or even if it would keep going. Moving on 3 years, West Devon Tai Chi is now well established in Bratton Clovelly, Lydford and Lifton with regular classes and workshops throughout the year. This has been a big step forward in my Taiji journey as well as a tremendous learning curve. It is one I have come to embrace though and to see everyone enjoying the learning of Taiji and being’ in the moment’ is wonderful. This week at Lifton they got to six moves and when we did the sequence  together everyone applauded each other. It was a joy to be part of their sense of achievement. 

Thank you all for your continuous support of the classes and workshops and special thanks to my dear friend, Jo, who gently steps forward to guide and help so many others at Lydford and Lifton.

Summer Solstice blessings dear friends and may Taiji help guide you on your way

Mandy-Instructor

Keeping It Simple

posted 2 Jun 2018, 04:14 by WestDevon Tai Chi   [ updated 4 Jun 2018, 11:59 ]

 It was lovely to see such a great ‘coming together’ for my dear friend, Yuri Leitch, when he came to Bratton Clovelly. Following a brief introduction, Yuri took us on a truly entertaining 3 hour journey of ‘Keeping It Simple’ developed through his own understanding and practise of Taijiquan.

Reading a few words about a workshop cannot do it justice, this is why I encourage people to come along to enhance their own understanding but here are a few key points I would like to mention. Yuri emphasised that one can never do enough joint loosening exercises and deep breathing to relax the mind and ‘let go’ of tension and that the quality of one’s Taiji practice is relative to all of this.   The ‘Three Bowls’ is an imaginal concept Yuri uses to teach Taiji; mainly as a way of focusing upon some core postural alignments and centralized harmony. He explained that the focus is mainly upon the Lower Bowl (Dantien) as the steering wheel of all physical movement; and its balance is the foundation of the Middle and Upper Bowls (Dantiens). The ‘Three Bowls’ are the key to obtaining a correct posture and combined with loosened joints and tendons, a relaxed mind and slow gentle breathing- these are the crucial ingredients. Don’t worry about the details of the form he said-you remember what you remember, in time you remember more. Focus on the simple things; find your body. The ‘Five Levels of Taiji’ are levels of achievement, and Yuri passed on, from Ben Milton, a nice simple way of looking at the first three levels.  Level One, achieved, means  you can practice the entire Laojia on your own, without following someone; and it doesn’t matter if your movements are wooden (that’s 90% Yang; 10% Yin). Level Two is achieved if every part of your Laojia is driven by Silk Reeling (80% Yang; 20% Yin) Level Three is that all of your silk reeling is full of Peng essence (70% Yang; 30% Yin). He went on to stress though that Taiji is not about achieving levels of ability, it really is about the process, the growing of self-awareness…the finding of your body. There is nothing wrong with Level One; it’s a fun place to be-a walk in the park, checking the shapes enjoy it all!

Whilst everyone enjoyed a tea break in the warm sunshine Yuri gave a wonderful and powerful demonstration of the short form (first 15 moves) and some simple, but effective, martial applications within the opening move. A very entertaining 15 minutes indeed!  This workshop very much complemented Ben’s teachings, with the combination of theory and practical nicely balanced; covering spine loosening exercises, basic foundation exercises and many repetitions of the first two moves, bringing together all he had talked about throughout the morning.  After everyone had left, Yuri said to me very humbly, “hope they enjoyed it, I have never done a workshop for so many people.”

Well Yuri, everyone did enjoy it! The feedback was brilliant and many have shared with me what they took away from the workshop. Something different had stuck with everybody. For me, it was wonderful to reconnect with a friend and a great teacher; another opportunity to refresh and learn more to take away into my own practice and life.  

Thank you all for coming along to the workshop, especially the people from the Lifton class who have just taken their first steps into Taiji. On June 16th we have Ben coming to do a workshop; another excellent opportunity to take away a little ‘something’ and meet up with others on the journey. Ben has a natural gift of explaining and teaching Taiji simply and clearly so everyone, regardless of ability, can enjoy the vast benefits of ‘the pearl of Chinese culture’. Be a great session for sure, his analogies are brilliant! 

Mandy-Instructor

lazy about tying coat (lazily tying coat) Jo Cornwell

posted 11 Apr 2018, 06:09 by Mandy Moor   [ updated 2 Jun 2018, 04:09 by WestDevon Tai Chi ]

      the right hand is a fist    unclenching    leaving the cup of the other   and

      threading upwards    for a moment straight    precise    as if aiming for

      a needle    then turning    palm outwards    as does the other    (air almost

      tangible)    and my hand is now    pulling through water    as an oar

      pulls through water    I have felt this     it is all slow    it is for ever    and

      now    as both hands turn     palms upwards    and come together   crossing

      to make    wings   and these wings    draw inwards     as if feathers are shelter

      for a heart     as I step out     and the wings open    to let the other hand

       remember the body    and fall unwillingly    down it    while the right hand -

       the one that was a fist       gestures outwards      towards        a pause


In classes both at Bratton and at Lydford, I have spent more time in the last two years going over the initial moves of the form. Lazily tying coat is a favourite move of mine.

Lazy is slow-moving. Suggestive of a river. I often think of water when I'm doing Tai Chi - and Mandy often suggests 'to flow with it' when describing movement in Tai Chi and in life in general. 

I want the rooted, mindful movement of Tai Chi. The quietening of the mind from outer chaos towards a stillness; inherent within. Even a knowing, or an allowing of the busy state of the mind feels like a step into the flow of stillness. 

It is an absolute blessing to have Mandy's classes on the doorstep. I thank her always for her generous spirit; her sharing of her practice and this way of life.

Sowing the Seeds

posted 4 Apr 2018, 07:44 by Mandy Moor   [ updated 18 Apr 2018, 09:25 by WestDevon Tai Chi ]

This posting is dedicated to the community of Lifton who have embraced Taiji with bundles of enthusiasm. March Ist brought the full force of winter in with it and despite my partner telling me I was mad (nothing unusual there!) I decided to go ahead with the first class. Fortunately, the roads were fine first thing and I was so pleased I listened to my heart as about 18 people walked through the door. Throughout March that number has not diminished and new faces are continuing to drift in. I have no expectations and the nature of Taiji often sees a drop out of people as the weeks pass. This is mainly due to many realising that it is physically and mentally challenging to learn Taiji and not just a delicate form of movement where the arms wave around.  Taiji is a journey of self discovery and teaches you a tremendous amount about yourself, your postural alignment and how you move generally. This can be wonderful and disconcerting all at the same time! 'Letting go' is one of the most challenging aspects of the learning; although that goes hand in hand with your life journey too! With all that said, maybe the wonderful smiling faces that have greeted me at Lifton, for the last five weeks, will not follow that trend of 'dropping out' and stay on the never ending journey to discover the wonders of this art for themselves. 

I am a great believer in synchronicity and the power of thought. It enables me to flow with life and all the changes that it brings.  Prior to the first class at Lifton, my dear friend, Yuri Leitch, had been in my thoughts and how it would be brilliant to get him to do a workshop here.  I met Yuri when I moved to Glastonbury in 2012 and he introduced me to Chen style and also to Ben Milton. A shy, humble man and a gifted teacher and, as the weeks passed, it soon became clear to me that our paths crossing was another synchronicity on my journey. Having not had any contact in the last 2 years, I was amazed to see him walk through the door at Lifton three weeks ago. He greeted me with, "just on my way to Truro to see my Mum, checked out where you were doing a class and thought I would drop in." A wonderful moment and great to do a little demonstration together of the first six moves for everyone. This brief, but meaningful, 'dropping in' has paved the way to  Yuri doing a workshop at Bratton Clovelly on Saturday 19th of May.  So the 'seeds had been sown' without me making it happen! I will be encouraging everyone to come along, enjoy the moment and what it brings and to experience, firsthand, Yuri's unique understanding and philosophy of Taijiquan through many years of self exploration. 

Spring Equinox blessings to you all and a heartfelt thank you to the Lifton community and to Sally Old who 'sowed the first seed' when she suggested many months ago about starting a class at the new centre. 
Mandy-Instructor

Nuts and Bolts

posted 8 Feb 2018, 04:08 by Mandy Moor   [ updated 9 Feb 2018, 01:36 by WestDevon Tai Chi ]

When I first started learning Taiji, basics and principles were words never used. It was not until seeing  my first teacher, a few years after he had decided to give up his classes, and he said, “I have gone back to the basics” that I had heard that word used in the learning of this art. Now, after being introduced to the basic foundations six years ago, my legs definitely know the meaning! Not to mention, discovering the unnecessary physical and mental tension that has built up in my body over the years that I never realised existed. The words ‘let it go’ have become my daily mantra!

The basics are the ‘nuts and bolts’ of Taiji and without the understanding and learning of these you can spend years just mindlessly waving your arms around.  So here are a few words to explain what these basics are and what we focus on in my classes.

  • Zhan Zhuang (pronounced Jan Jong) is standing meditation. Standing is the first and most important foundational step in Taiji. It builds up and releases an extraordinary flow of natural energy that is dormant within us. There are no recognisable external movements although it is a highly energetic exercise system. In contrast to many other exercise systems, Zhan Zhuang develops are internal energy in a very efficient way, instead of consuming it. The system is based on a unique fusion of relaxation and exertion which stimulates, cleanses and massages the whole body. The standing posture greatly develops the strength of the legs. When the legs are strong, then the upper body can relax and sink down into them, making the top more flexible. This seemingly simple exercise also improves postural alignment and balance and develops acute body awareness, deeper breathing and a tranquil mind. For many of us, bad postures have simply become bad habits. Zhan Zhuang creates a state of being which helps to ‘unlearn’ all these bad habits and return to a natural, comfortable and healthy posture. Although some people find it torturous to begin with, standing is the key to calming your mind, finding your body and the stillness inside which is where movement comes from.
  • Changsigong (silk-reeling exercises) is a method of movement distinctive to Chen style. It is a spiralling movement which trains the body to move smoothly and naturally from the feet to the fingertips. The key is that internally and externally the rotational movements are even and balanced and the body moves as one unit-one part moves and all parts follow. All Taiji movement is achieved through silk-reeling energy containing the three components of relaxation, extension and turning, with the centre (dantien) initiating the movements. The slow even twining nature of the movements provides a means of eliminating stiffness and improving elasticity and flexibility. It also stretches and strengthens the muscles and tendons. Any Taiji form is basically a collection of Changsigong variations but as one goes through the moves mistakes are overlooked and forgotten immediately. Practising Changsigong gives one a chance to discover and eliminate any deviations in one’s basic movement patterns.
  • Zou Bu (Taiji walking) enables one to learn how to step well. As we get older we slowly lose the ability to walk in a well-balanced way, something that was so natural to us when we took our first steps as a child. There are many variations of Taiji walking but all follow the principle of learning how to maintain an upright structure, balance and connection whilst stepping slowly. It is challenging to do well but without the distraction of the arms waving about one can totally focus on moving in a balanced way.

Being natural is the first and foremost principle of Taiji 

These Taiji basics are essential tools to avoid getting stuck in a kind of robotic stage of moving that prevents us from experiencing the fluidity of Taiji and a natural way of moving through one’s own sense of proprioception.  Learning Taiji is a journey of self- discovery but don’t just take my word for it, try it for yourself!

It has been great to see some new faces in the classes this year and a couple of familiar faces return. The doorway has now opened for West Devon Tai Chi in Lifton- first class will be commencing at the new Community Centre on Thursday 1st March and there has already been lots of interest. So come along and get stuck into the basics and fully experience the art of Taiji. Check out the website for times and dates. Everyone is welcome-you are never too young or too old to begin the journey. Look forward to seeing you there!


Mandy-Instructor


Another Year Over

posted 17 Dec 2017, 08:23 by WestDevon Tai Chi   [ updated 18 Dec 2017, 02:59 ]

As the classes come to an end for the Christmas and New Year break it is an opportunity for me to reflect on how West Devon Tai Chi has evolved over the last year. I take each class as it comes and my way of teaching/sharing Taiji with others has become quite organic in its own way. The basics and principles are covered regularly as we work through learning the form but I do emphasise it is also a journey of self-discovery, encouraging everyone to become their own teacher and being open to change as their learning progresses. One of lifes' most important lessons!

Throughout the year, there have been many new people start but also a few regulars of the Bratton group  have stopped coming. They have explained to me that they only enjoy doing the warm up/loosening exercises and basics, and have no desire to go beyond learning the first 15 moves. My style of teaching is not a rigid fomat and I do my best to accommodate everyone and am always happy to adapt the classes to suit everyone's level of progression. Having shared those words out, maybe the New Year will see some return and give it another try! 

I would like to thank all at Bratton Clovelly and Lydford for sharing the Taiji journey with me, and for their continual support and tremendous enthusiasm. Learning Taiji is challenging for the mind and body and it is  wonderful to see the encouragement and help everyone gives to each other. Also, grateful thanks to Kerry for keeping the website up and running and doing such a great job of breaking down the moves of the form. 

We resume the week beginning 8th January-dates are on the website and we have two workshops with Ben Milton to look forward to later in the year, 16th June and 3rd November. We are still awaiting the opening of the new Lifton Community Centre; maybe 2018 will bring forth a new class. We will keep you posted!

Winter Solstice blessings and a peaceful New Year to you all       

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Mandy    


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