03 December 2016

Plaistow class on Friday

All GR and TCC students are welcome to this pre-Christmas session from 79pm on Friday 9th. Get in touch for details. 

Sabre and Sword this week

...at Mark's classes 6th and 8th December. 

29 November 2016

Aberdeenshire Workshops 2017

The 2017 dates for Caroline's workshops in Aberdeenshire are now confirmed. Click on the flyer below to get a larger, printable version.

The format of each weekend will be Weapons on Friday evening, Short Form and associated Partnerwork on Saturdays, Long Form and Dance/Heartwork/Partnerwork on Sundays.

All weapons workshops will be at Fetternear Hall. The venue for other sessions will be published on the blog nearer the time. The price will be £16 (£12 concession) for each 3 hour session. There will be a reduced price for the Sabre beginners sessions.

The Autumn Intensive with Master Mark Raudva will be held 14-16 October at Fetternear Hall, with a weapons workshop on 13th October.

Caroline's final visit of this year will be 16-18th December. More details to follow. All welcome !


23 November 2016

Calendars

I'm a wee bit late getting the orders in for these this year so let me know if you'd like a desk or wall calendar. Not sure of exact price yet but it will be around £5 desk / £8 wall. Summer and Autumn workshops will be marked on it along with the usual public holidays, etc. 

New Long Form group

Very exciting news: as the Short Form group from Tuesdays are just anout to finish learning the Form, Mark has decided that from Feb 7th they will begin learning Long Form. Well done to a great group on completing Short Form. You will still get to do it each week as part of the class. 

There are enough new Short Form beginners to have that running separately in the first half of Tuesday class. (After tea break Dance study continues as usual). Dance students can enjoy seeing LF postures and applications again too. We have some fun ways with applications in Aberdeenshire, see earlier post and pictures, that may now make their way to London. 

The new Long Form group 6.30- tea break will also be advertised on taichifinder.co.uk as before, so eligible students from elsewhere may join us in February. 

London term dates for Mark

Last classes of this term will be Tuesday December 13th and Thursday 15th. 
First classes of 2017 will be 10th and 12th January, and will include Sword and Sabre. 

(Now so many folks do weapons, we have Sword and Sabre on first week of a month, even January and September.)

121s with me continue over the holiday, so feel free to get in touch for some festive study. Tea and cake provided...

22 November 2016

Service Information


Last weekend

Thanks to all who came despite the freezing weather, it was a great weekend. Well done especially to those learning the Long Form for the first time who are doing some excellent work. Here's a couple of pictures from the session where we did all the applications of the Long Form in order up to Single Whip. Each had an assistant to be our attacker, giving just the right punch or push to do the form just-so. 
Foreground: Preparing for elbow strike during Single Whip. Background double pull down after yield in Beginning. 
Ward-off Right - Split happens...


18 November 2016

No show for me tonight

A points failure at Stonehaven means both Davina and I are stuck on trains for the foreseeable. Sorry about tonight. Will answer sword and sabre questions tomorrow. 

Delay in arriving for weapons class tonight

There has been a fatality on the train line I am on right now, and so I may well be delayed in arriving at class tonight. Senior students please help the juniors and show them a new sabre posture. It will be interesting for me to see how well you passed it on... I will make it up with some lovely sword details later. 

Booking an earlier train would not have helped. Davina is 1 hr ahead and has also been badly delayed. 

Apologies again. Caro. 

17 November 2016

Proposed T'ai Chi and Meditation Retreat 2017

As some of you may know, I have enjoyed going on retreats since I was 16. I have been on some wonderful meditation and T'ai Chi based retreats over the years at places such as Newbold House, Gaia House, Sharpham Barn Kuti hut as well as one day events here in London at Rigpa, Shambala, and elsewhere. A retreat really allows you to put aside the daily mental routine and to focus on the real. All these places and events were great in their own way, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have been there. I have met wonderful people and learned much of great value to my life. I have also enjoyed doing lots of T'ai Chi with others at many workshops both with teachers of our lineage and on my travels to Taichi Caledonia and Push-Hands Hannover in Germany, and on weekend courses run by Sam Masich and Wang Hai Jun.

Me (in red top) studying with Kajedo Wanderer at Newbold House in 1989.

I particularly loved Stephen and Martine Bachelor's Son retreat at Gaia House a few years ago. Their Korean Zen and our Tao are very close: Stephen called Zen 'Taoist Buddhism'... I have been searching the web and the city for like minded Taoists, (or even like minded T'ai Chi-ists!) who might want to come together for a bit of 'quiet sitting' sometimes, and perhaps to discuss the T'ai Chi and Taoist Classics over a tea. However, I have come to realise that the meditation retreat I long for does not yet exist, and that I may have to create it myself. I love to do T'ai Chi in nature, away from strip lights and mobile phones, especially by the sea... This brought the 'aha' moment: I would like to plan a weekend retreat for next spring in Dorset, where I have huts. This is already where I do a great deal of Heartwork, sitting and T'ai Chi in nature. So, perhaps, dear reader, you would like to join me. There is also the fact that the piggy bank for retreats and courses is currently empty, which helps clarify the situation for me. Yet sometimes you've got to go away to get back to yourself.

2006 London Workshop with Grandmaster John Kells

I won't post too many details now as I really need to get offline, make supper, call my mum, and pack the last things for Aberdeenshire! Here's the rough outline, which I have run past Mark, and he agrees it's a great idea. At first this will only be open to students of Mark or myself, or of our students, or of other John Kells' family T'ai Chi. It's back to basics at the huts; no electricity, no phone signal, no hot running water (you can boil a kettle). There's room for 7 or 8 of us in Spartan accommodation sharing the huts or solo in tents, but there are local b and bs or self catering for anyone who really needs it due to an injury, or whatever. For me, embracing the low tech slow pace lifestyle of hut life is a joy, and it's a real aid to letting go of stuff, mentally and physically. There's a standpipe for wonderful spring water next to the ancient holy well right by the huts. There are decent basic public loos too, thank goodness. I can even set up the shower tent (remember that from the Petersham workshops?) but a change of clothes and flannel washes would be just as good, it's not like we're going jogging.

Taichi Caledonia 2010 with Duncan.

The plan would be to arrive one day in late April or perhaps May 2017, on a Friday afternoon / evening and share a meal before bed. I will be there a day before to set up and will provide all food. I have calor gas, charcoal stoves and paraffin lamps. With luck we'll have a good meditation session and hopefully an open fire before bedtime. The next two days will have alternating sitting and walking meditation in the mornings from 9am, then T'ai Chi and Heartwork in the afternoons. I would like my colleagues and senior students to want to come, so don't worry, I won't be 'teaching' as such, just giving any instruction a less experienced student may ask for to get on with things. I envisage there being lots of great silent practice in the most beautiful of places, with like minded folks. In the evening we can have fires, discuss the work, share, or just be quiet together. There will also be free time for walks. Folks who need to leave on Sunday night for work could head off, but if possible it would be good to stay until lunch time on Monday, to get the real benefit of the time away. For a 'decompression' back to normal life, there are a few great cafes with views over the harbour or Fleet, to ease the start of your homeward journey.

Sharpham Barn Kuti 2012, after my second week-long silent solo retreat,
where I totally got the hut / nature / meditation bug.

For Fri-Mon, I imagine charging £60 for the food, accommodation and everything else you'd need. Any other contribution would be entirely voluntary. A back pack containing a sleeping bag and roll mat, waterproofs, trainers, a change of clothes, a sitting cushion, a head torch,  a swimming costume for the brave, a travel towel and toiletries is probably all you'll need. Travel light is the best advice. I won't be putting the exact details here on the blog for privacy reasons, so see me at class or email if you are interested. I will make a flyer soon. If no one fancies joining me, no worries! I will revisit my kuti hut times and do a 'solo'. However, ask anyone who's been to the bay and gone to sleep to the sound of the sea under bright star light, and they will tell you how magical it is. The nearest train station is Weymouth, and local buses, good taxis and free parking nearby are available. If more than 7 people want to come, I'll organise another weekend too.

Looking south at dusk.

There, what can I say?
You are invited to probably my favourite place in the world, to join me in doing one of my favourite things. As my old friend would say: Shanti.

Looking east mid-afternoon.

Fitzwilliam Museum

If you have a chance to - go see 'Colour' at The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. The museum is free and is quite simply one of the most wonderful museums I have ever been to. 'Colour' is an exhibition about the science, colour and history of illuminated manuscripts, and it was wonderful. The day's revelation was the rest of the museum: I saw paintings and drawings by many favourites: Stanley Spencer, Gwen John, Walter Sickert; a superb print by John Piper, ceramics by Lucie Rie, Edmund De Waal and the incomparable Bernard Leach. There were incredible funerary portraits in encaustic from Roman Egypt, which I had always wanted to see in the flesh. Heartbreakingly beautiful Syrian objects from places now sacked and destroyed by IS. I saw ancient Minoan pottery, which I adore, including some famously covered with marine life, such as their distinctive bold octopus motifs. There were stunning African portrait busts, pots and carvings from Nubia and Sudan; geometric, 'modern' and true, over five hundred years before the egos of Picasso and others of his era appropriated so much from so many. By the end of Tuesday I was drunk on beauty and needed to go home and rest my eyes on nothing much. The museum is free, and if you in the South of England, or are travelling from London, then if you book a week or two ahead, the train tickets are quite reasonable. It's a 20 minute walk from the station to the museum. The museum's online resources are also superb.



One-off sessions

Yesterday I ran a one-off  'Introduction to T'ai Chi' session at Pret A Manger's plush new HQ in Victoria, London. It was a lovely session, we began by looking at posture via mark's superb 'tipping point' exercise. We then moved on to Five Elements Chi Gung and finished with sticking, and another go at Five Elements. It's amazing how much you can do, and undo, in an hour. Glad to see chilled and relaxed folks at the end of the session. I enjoy doing occasional one-off sessions like this, and it's an opportunity for me to see what a 'normal' working environment might be like. I have never had an office job, co-workers, bosses, work desk with a computer, etc, etc. Eye-opening!

Aberdeenshire this weekend

I am all packed and looking forward to coming up to Scotland tomorrow. All will run as usual, weather permitting. On Sunday night's partner work session, anyone is welcome until tea break, but after that we will be working on revision, deepening and questions on The Dance, as we have put this to one side for a few months. Now is time to crack on with it again so bring your queries and enthusiasm. any non-Dance students staying for the first half on have to pay for half a session, of course.

We've been doing lots of wonderful things in the London sessions which I am looking forward to sharing with you. I know it will be a chilly weekend, so it's unlikely we'll get an outdoor session, instead we'll work warmed by the fire.

15 November 2016

No Monymusk Thursday session this week

Thursday session at Monymusk on 17th November is cancelled. We'll be back to normal on the 24th.

14 November 2016

It's a driech day in London, so I'm spending the afternoon here. It's been great to work with so many of the London crew again.

13 November 2016

November workshops in Aberdeenshire

This month's workshops with Caroline are this coming weekend, 18-20 November.  Great River students of any level are particularly welcome to the Saturday sessions. All workshops are at Balvack, except for Weapons which is at Fetternear Hall.

Friday 7-10pm: Weapons, including Sabre for beginners 7-8pm (£5). Click here for more details
Saturday 1-4pm: Short Form, and related study
Saturday 5.30-8.30pm: Partnerwork
Sunday 1-4pm: Long Form
Sunday 5.30-8.30pm: Advanced Studies and Dance (more info available here).

The price is £15 (concs available) per 3 hr session. Please bring food to share on Saturday and Sunday. Get in touch with your instructor if you need travel directions or feel free to contact me with any other questions.

12 November 2016

Monthly East London Class

I have finally got things together and organised a monthly meet up for any old Hackney students who would like to join in, and any of  Mark's students who may be living or working in north or east London and fancy coming along. There's no obligation to book or turn up, as I will be at a student's home to do T'ai Chi anyway. There is a lovely room we can do form, dance and push hands in, not enough room for sword but hey ho, we can use the garden in the summer. I would be happy to teach whatever folks who turn up wanted, but short and long form, dance and some partnerwork would certainly be possible. I think we could aim for 2 hours, 7-9pm, then we will lay on tea and some snacks. Please let me know if you are interested. It is likely to happen on Fridays, as that is the only time my student is free and most old students could be around. Cost would be £10 / £5 concs.

The address located 6 mins walk from Plaistow tube, 5 mins on bus from Stratford tube / train / bus station. Contact me for address. First session is scheduled for 9th December. Hope you can make it!

2017 The T'ai Chi Centre workshop dates

Sunday workshops, subjects TBC (Sword, Sabre, etc)
26th Feb, 2nd April, 11th June, 9th July, 24th September. Sundays, 2-5pm, £22, £20 if paid in advance. Minimum 6 students needed per session to run.

Summer weeklong workshop 22-28 July, 21st eve partnerwork session optional.

October Aberdeenshire workshop 14-16 October, weapons optional Fri 13th eve, 121s 3 days after workshop as usual, no classes in London that week.

Accept Difference As Given

According to Chaung Tsu, Sung Chien and Yin Wen:
"accepted difference as given. They discoursed upon the nature of the heart and they sought a unity proceeding from the heart. By such concerns they sought to unite everyone in joyfulness and to harmonise all within the boundaries of the oceans. The greatest desire was to see this achieved everywhere, by their efforts. They could face insults and not be disturbed; they struggled to save the people from warfare; they aimed to prevent aggression and to silence arms and thus to deliver future generations from violence. In pursuit of such ideals, they walked across the whole world, advising the high and teaching the low, and even though the world would not listen, they just continued even more strongly and would not give up. So it is said that high and low were tired of seeing them, but they never gave up putting themselves forward" (Martin Palmer translation, Penguin books 2006, 300).
 
A wonderful excerpt from my friend Ashley, who is writing a paper to be given at the 11th Annual Conference of Daoist Studies in Paris next year. I am also thinking of submitting a paper... watch this space.