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It Ain’t What You Do, It’s The Way That You Do It

posted 17 Nov 2017, 08:41 by WestDevon Tai Chi   [ updated 17 Dec 2017, 08:24 ]

As the nights draw in we had some light and inspiration with the return of Ben Milton at the beginning of the month. With the focus on moving from the Dan Tien (our centre/core), he took us through the Taiji basics and moves from the Laojia Yilu. As always, his unique blend of theory and practise with his excellent analogies kept us all captivated. Due to the nature of the classes being “drop in” there were many new faces but we all came away feeling totally inspired. From the moment that Ben begins his introductory talk, you can appreciate this man’s years of knowledge and understanding of Taijiquan in its entirety. His teaching is of the highest level and for people to be given this opportunity to learn with Ben is down to the ongoing support of the classes. The feedback has been brilliant and hopefully we will be able to enjoy many more of these workshops in the future.

The physical and mental aspects of Taiji were highlighted by Ben. In the modern world, Taiji is seen by many as an exercise for health and wellbeing, and are drawn by the meditative and flowing nature of the exercise. Ben emphasised the fact that people often fail to recognise the strength and development required to perform the art. Looking back over my first ten years of Taiji, although my movements may have looked graceful, there was no body cohesion and my legs were certainly not working very hard!! Ben spent a dedicated time on correcting people’s basic postures which certainly showed us how strong the Taiji exercise is on the legs. It develops a sinking feeling as the hips relax and the legs compress. He explained it simply as “only the top of the head goes up, rest of the body goes down”. Sounds easy, but keeping that structure whilst focusing on moving from your centre takes body and mind awareness and constantly paying attention to how our body moves. This is where basic foundation exercises (jibengong) are essential and are ongoing in the training and learning of Taiji. Learning how to move well without retaining the old habitual way of moving is physically and mentally challenging as you have to learn to calm and focus the mind completely.

The one true rebellion is to free the mind and body

Being natural is one of the most important principles in Taiji; an ability we were born with but, for the majority of us, we have lost over the years. As an exercise system, Taiji is often overlooked for a fast burn cardiovascular workout but creating a relaxed, stable, balanced and connected body requires physical work and focused awareness. The benefits of developing a whole body connection can help with physical and mental health and an overall ability to move and function well.

Most people who attend the classes say they did not realise there was so much to learning Taiji. There are no shortcuts. It is a process and the basic skills we develop at the foundation level are vital attributes for life.

A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step

 So if you are up for the challenge of learning this ancient and intelligent Chinese Internal Art come along and join us at one of the classes. You have nothing to lose, everything to gain!

Mandy-Instructor