OUTDOOR CLASSES ARE CLOSED FOR THE WINTER MONTHS RECOMENCING IN APRIL. CHECK BACK THEN FOR DETAILS.
I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to learn or to further their understanding of this art, as a result fees are by donation but I would hope this will reflect what you feel they are worth and your financial circumstances. My lessons are tailored to the individual student's abilities but designed for people who have a genuine interest in understanding how to develope 'internal' movement and are prepared to practice. Some of the components are listed below.
Six harmonies movement requires a complete re-programming of how we move; there are a number of prerequisites for this. In order to develop our connective tissue we must first learn to fully relax while upright, otherwise we will unavoidably be using local muscle control. This elemental requirement is harder than it seems but there are a number of indicators that aid the process of self-assessment. Through a guided journey of self-discovery we examine the relationship between intention (yi), spirit (shen) and visualisation in developing a rapport with the subconscious mind, together with the roles played by facia and the involuntary muscle system. We develop the elasticity of the body’s collagen based tissues and learn to control the body from the tan-tien using whole body movement while interacting with the ground through gravity.
Zang zhuang is the classical training method of the internal arts for retraining the musculature of the upper body to take on a supportive role in maintaining body shape rather than an active role in movement. Over time and with correct posture the muscles becomes more relaxed enabling the connective tissue to develop and play a greater part in supporting the body thereby reducing muscle requirement and further aiding relaxation. Initially Zang zhuang should only be practiced for short time periods which can gradually be extended; this avoids developing tension which negates any benefit.
Silk reeling is the component of Chen style tai-chi that separates it from all the other styles. The exercises are a type of qigong (chi kung) that is specifically designed to teach tai-chi movement and will allow you to begin to develop your body in the unique way of the internal arts. They allow me to pass on my understanding of the 'six harmonies movement' system that is the hallmark of internal arts such as tai-chi. Those taught to me by Master Zhang Xue-Xin are both extensive and comprehensive, while those from Grand Master Chen Xiao-Wang are highly detailed.
The exercises combine the two distinct tan-tien controlled types of movement required to qualify as a truly internal art. Learning to rotate the tan-tien and connect this rotation to each of the joints of the body through the connective tissues, together with the expansion and contraction of the body through those tissues. Both these methods require a breathing technique to take out the slack in the facia and enable tan-tien controlled movement to be propagated through the body.
Traditionally silk reeling exercises would be the starting point for all new students, who would only progress to learning a tai-chi form when some degree of ability and understanding had been developed. This ensured that when a form is learnt the body movements are done correctly, preventing errors from becoming ingrained. As a stand-alone system they allow tai-chi dynamics to be learnt without doing overtly martial based movements.
For most students the ultimate objective is to learn a 'foundation form' which is what is commonly recognised as tai-chi; a sequence of interconnected flowing movements performed predominantly in slow motion. This builds on the elemental knowledge developed in the chan si gong.
Depending on preferences and level of ability the form taught is one of the following.
Laojia translates as 'old frame' and describes the earliest known forms of tai-chi chuan. Yi lu means first path, meaning the first form learned in the system. Yi lu's are the foundation forms that underpin the entire system and as such remain important throughout ones development. They characterise tai-chi in that they are comprised mainly of slow movements. The lao jia yi lu is one of the oldest known tai-chi forms and is the form that all the first sets of all the other major styles were derived from. It is over 200 years old and is an amalgamation and evolution of several 250 - 300 year old forms devised by Chen Wang-Ting the originator of Chen style tai-chi; with many of the movements and all the movement constructs being far older than that.
The lao jia yi lu has all the benefits of the shorter forms but is a much greater physical work out. It is far more complex, longer and more dynamic than most modern tai-chi forms, making it more demanding and far more rewarding. It is an excellent vehicle for developing a comprehensive understanding of six harmonies motion and introduces more advanced techniques such as 'fajing'.
This is a shorter Chen style form that is based on the first half of the lao jia yi lu making it a good starting point to build on. It is less demanding than the lao jia yi lu; the more challenging movements of which are contained within its second half.
While I do not consider myself a martial artist it is necessary to understand that this is a martial art. My teaching uses predominantly Chen style tai-chi to teach six harmonies movement which is the defining characteristic of the Internal Martial Arts. This degree of insight is rarely taught to non-family members. As a result it does not match the typical modern perception of tai-chi. The training requires a reasonable level of fitness, particularly leg strength and is not a suitable starting point for the elderly unless they have maintained a high level of lower body strength. Nor is it likely to suit someone who is looking to pursue a preconceived intransigent romantic conception of what the art entails. If you are interested check back in April when a link will appear at the bottom of this page.