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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!