In class recently we were discussing the many ways to analyse tai chi chuan movements. One simple method is to observe compression and expansion, although one can also observe spiralling. In the sequence below, a variation of beginning style as an application, you can observe compression, expansion and spiral in both participants. its worthwhile studying the slide show, then perhaps follow the link, to a video version of the same move.
See the slideshow here (bottom right), and observe that compression and expansion is not merely through the legs, but involves the whole body..
See the video here
For any student of Tai Chi Chuan there is a great deal to be learned from the practice of 'Brush Knee', (for the sake of ease I will use the shortened term) especially when that practice is repeated. It is for this reason Gloria and I often have our classes practice Brush Knee in one direction, and then Repulse the Monkey in the other, a great opportunity for exploring some of the mechanics of Tai Chi Chuan.
When added to the 'Eight Gates' you have a simple, repeatable form, which trains changes of direction and turning steps, alongside the basic Brush Knee, emphasising clear weight shifts, and weight free side steps, with twisting of the rear foot.
'Brush Knee through the Eight Gates' provides a thorough training ground for the basic step-work of Tai Chi Chuan, as each change of direction gives you the chance to practice key principles of stepping.
I will put up some videos Here; and the diagrams can be found here.
The Sunday Review
Emerging from the cool interior of the house onto the terrace, I shield my eyes against the brightness, treading carefully on the hot pink surface, carefully, to let my bare feet adjust to the searing heat without burning. I reach the lounge chair opposite Gloria, and sit back. Within a breath or two my muscles relax under the soothing warmth of the afternoon sun, penetrating deeply despite the cooling of a gentle Atlantic breeze.
Gloria semi prone has one long brown leg stretched out, one raised at the knee, her head in shade, eyes closed, and exquisite profile clearly outlined against the azure blue of the sky. Gloria is still…. Everything is still.
I have written about the benefits to health achieved through regular practice of Tai Chi Chuan many times, in many platforms and publications.
There are so many benefits that, if you wish to list the scientific studies that support the many anecdotal claims, you would need more than a book, perhaps even a small library.
there have been an increasing number of studies in recent years that do more than suggest that Tai Chi is beneficial, they confirm it.
Whilst parts of the British NHS currently promote the view that Tai Chi is considered beneficial but that more studies need to be made, something no reasonably person would disagree with, others are actively using it for pain control, falls prevention, and to allieviate stress. The fact is there have been an increasing number of studies in recent years that do more than suggest that Tai Chi is beneficial, they confirm it.
From the training hall to the office, the infant school to the care home,
So for the sake of brevity, here is a link to a 2010 article published in the New York times which positively skips along, yet lays out the issues around scientific studies of such a complex activity, yet at the same time, covers the things many people are interested in, All credit to the author and previously mentioned publication. I can not vouch for the links or adverts placed in the NYT, so caveat emptor as usual. Enjoy.: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/health/28brody.html?_r=2
Make the Tai Chi hand form yours
There are several stages in every Tai Chi practitioners journey, understanding the structure of the various stances, learning to separate weight, smooth transitions, good alignment; every one must learn these things and more, and the standard square and round forms will provide many opportunities to learn them all. At some point you may wish to make your practice more personal, we need not become clones of our teachers, rather we should aim to surpass them, add to the knowledge and ability they passed on. Owning your tai chi form can be part of that process, obviously you should not exceed the boundaries of sound structure and efficient bio-mechanical movement, (use the language of the tai chi classics if you prefer)
but that leaves a great deal of room for experimentation. Are your movements minimal and pragmatic, embellished and artistic, dynamic and enthralling? the choice is yours.
Below you see a clip of Cheng Tin Hung, perhaps in one of his more pragmatic moods, you can contrast this with the clip further down of a more dynamic performance by the same teacher. image quality is poor because its old material, best viewed small.
Square and Round hand form
In response to numerous requests, we have finally uploaded a short section of the hand form shown from different angles. If I can overcome my desire for perfection we may complete publication of the whole form, Currently finishing a move by move breakdown.
Enjoy the clip,
Its that time of year when people make resolutions, often designed to improve their life in some way. We thought it might be fun to apply the idea to Tai Chi practice, but don't take it too seriously.
Prepare - mentally and physically
Breathe - deep, naturally and quietly
Stand - still, open and aligned
Stretch - everything easily
Balance - everything
Practice - frequently, happily, with intention
Empty - your cup, and mind
Meditate - regularly, without effort
Free - waist, mind, and steps
Distinguish - weight in hands, feet, and effort
Use - intention, intentionally
Ground connection, or rebound?
Some of you are following the activity on our social media pages- Facebook -Twitter, etc and may have seen this article published on Keith's website. It is actually a response to another video and explains the concept of ground connection as simply redirecting the incoming energy to ground, and /or back into the opponent. It is a subtle use of the basic principle of yin becoming yang. Yielding (yin) is to make a strategic controlled withdrawal to a position of stability and strength, in order to redirect, or (in this instance) 'bounce' the opponent with his own force, by feeding it back to him. In the video for the sake of safety we only direct, rather than bounce. This is the strategic use of one particular form of 'Jin' or trained force/ energy in Tai Chi Chuan, there are many other manifestations available. follow the link to find the video if you cannot see it below.
Christmas and New Year 2014-15
It's that time of year when everyone is thinking of celebrating and relaxing, and perhaps (whisper this) easing up on practice a little?
So in the spirit of the Season and Wu Wei (non doing) we aim to facilitate that with the following information:
Last classes for 2014.
Trowse 16th December
Hindolveston 18th December
New term 2015 Fee payable on first lesson unless paying weekly
Hindolveston 8th January £25.00
Trowse 13th January £18.75
Private classes remain according to the schedule agreed with your personal teacher.
Drop in fees remain at £7.50 per session.
Have fun over the holidays and we look forward to training with you in the New Year.
Stay in touch during the break
Intermediate set of Ba Duan Jin Qigong
In our courses we cover the Ba Duan Jin set, at three levels of performance.
The Ba Duan Jin is one of the oldest Qigong techniques recorded in ancient Chinese history; you will read this in almost every treatise on Qigong. What far fewer texts will reveal is that there are many versions, some seated, some standing, some very dynamic, some comparatively passive.
All of these forms are intended to act upon the energy circuits associated with the theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which are concerned with regulating the flow of Qi (intrinsic energy). The major governing vessels (Ren and Du, or governing and Conception Vessels) primary circuits, and those associated with the organs are activated by this set, and as such benefit the whole body and psyche.
I was taught that the name is derived from the ability of this set to impart the quality of a fine silk brocade to the energy of the practitioner, that is soft, smooth, strong, rich and intricately interwoven, just as your energy circuits should be.
Perhaps the reason so much has been written about this set is partly because of its historical heritage, partly its adaptability to so many ranges of ability, but mostly its remarkable effectiveness, even when performed in the easiest forms. Of course when the most demanding, advanced versions are practised daily, the beneficial effects are even greater, it is for this reason that versions of these more demanding forms are often the basis for the secret Nei Gong training of many respected martial arts systems, the tough guys of the Qigong world.
In our courses we cover the Ba Duan Jin set, at three levels of performance. first we teach the root of each movement, the essence, then we move up the scale demonstrating how adding in pauses, spirals, weight shifts and different breathing increase the demands but also the benefits of each technique. This means our students are shown how to scale the versions up or down according to their ability. Teacher training of course goes even deeper into these aspects, so our teacher candidates have a thorough understanding of the way the system works from a traditional and physiological perspective
The easiest level we teach is less physically demanding, the levels increase in the amount of physical complexity, sinking, rising, twisting, compressing and expanding, as they progress. Also the difficulty of the breath components progress, therefore the easiest physical form, combined with the most advanced breathing can be a demanding and beneficial practice even for advanced practitioners. Always practice with sympathy for the body and mind, intention should be strong, even when the action, and breath are less.
The dvd below does not include 'Bouncing the heels' or 'Contemplating Dao' please see your teacher for details of the variations included in your regular class.
Aways seek the advice of your medical team before beginning any new exercise programme
Traditional Tai Chi
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