Dayan Qigong became very popular and Grandmaster Yang was invited to teach in many different areas. I thought that this was a good opportunity to study with her and I was again fortunate to be accepted by her, and so
I started my Qigong journey. Then, after four years training, in 1988, I moved to the UK. However, Dayan Qigong is not a simple skill. It is very deep with philosophy, movements, meditation, Buddhist and Daoist healing knowledge.
So even after I moved to England, I continued studying with my teacher
In 1990 I started my Qigong teaching and set up my own Qigong centre, the Tse Qigong Centre, with my teacher Grandmaster Yang Meijun's full support. Developing the Tse Qigong Centre has allowed many more people to benefit from Dayan Qigong. Some of my students even travelled back to China with me to visit their Sigong (grand teacher). She was very happy to see them.
Over the years the Centre has grown a lot. In the beginning there were only classes in Manchester and London;
"We should take care of this skill, not change or damage it."
now we have classes all over the UK, across the USA, Canada, Sweden. Norway, Australia, New Zealand and Italy. There are almost 80 people who have qualified as instructors for the Centre. The Centre follows the traditional way. It is not like a school were anyone can be an instructor. Students need two things, one is of course good skill, but somehow, good skill is the easy part and it just needs a lot of practice and if you work hard you can get it. The other thing is more difficult, that is a good heart. It means you must care about the skill, respect it and your teacher. If someone does not respect their teacher, then they will not be an instructor because if they do not respect the teacher who has given them the skill then their own students will not respect them. It is a chain reaction.
Also they do not deserve the skill and these people will not respect anybody. If they cannot respect someone who has been helping them then how can they really respect anyone else? The Centre's skill comes from many ancestors, from their hard work in preserving the skill. We should take care of this skill, keep it as it is, not change or damage it and not dishonour our ancestors. This skill belongs to them and we have just borrowed it. It is like borrowing a carfrom a friend. If you take care of the car, drive safely, make sure that it is not damaged or dirty and when you have finished fill it up with fuel, then your friend will always let you borrow it. If you do not take care of it and do not fill it up after you have finished, then you will not have a second chance to borrow it.
As we respect and take care of the skill, we can benefit from it and earn the trust of our teachers, then we will learn much more than we ever expected. Thus the Tse Qigong Centre has a lot of very good teachers. They all started out as beginners and became seniors. Some have been with me for over 15 years and so they have been with me longer than the Centre has existed. We have a lot of juniors following the seniors who have very good hearts and are very loyal.
Of course, it has been a long hard journey. Students have had to be loyal and respectful and care about the other students. They have had to respect their teacher and not sell the skill, only teaching those people who respected it and them. It has taken time to grow and so some students and teachers have not made it this far. However we have a lot of wonderful and talented students, so the journey has paid off.
On the 23rd of July 2002 my teacher Grandmaster Yang Meijun left us. We all feel sad for this, but we know she is looking after us in a spiritual way. We are safe and the Centre carries on and on. The new wild geese are growing and the Qigong skill is blossoming.
This year is the Centre's 15 th Anniversary. I believe as long as our hearts are right it will continue. The Centre does not just teach Qigong, there are martial arts, Wing Chun, Chen Taijiquan, Chun Yuen Quan, Hard Qigong as well as Feng Shui, Yijing, Chinese Culture, philosophy and Qigong healing. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my teachers, Yang Meijun, Ip Chun, Wu Chun Yuen, Chen Xiao Wang, Zhang Jia Liang and Fung Man Yiu. Also thank you to those good and loyal students, John Hayes, Darryl Moy, Jessica Tse, Julian Wilde, Glenn Gossling,ShahriarSepangi, Adam Wallace, Rick Charles, Sheila Waddington, Stefan Eekenulv, Barbro Olsson and Martin Lavelle who have been with me for over 15 years. There are also many good students who have been with us for over 10 and 5 years and those who have just began the journey with us. The Centre belongs to all those people who love and respect it and who are loyal and will take care of it.
I really like the taste of sweet and sour sauce on Chinese food but I wouldn't want to put it on everything, otherwise I'd miss the unique flavour of the original dishes. In a Chinese restaurant every meal prepared has something different to offer (and aren't we glad of it!).
aste Of Sweet And Sour
I am often surprised, when receiving enquiries about Taiji classes, that a lot of people's reply to the question, "Have you done any Taiji before?" is "No, but I've done Yoga and Pilates." Well, good for them but that's relevant how? I've done a lot of gardening in my time but that doesn't qualify me to advise you about the electrical wiring in your house!
I think all instructors notice that beginners who practise more than one style or skill, forexample Taiji and Shaolin, will perform both styles in the same way. Their skills have only one flavour, usually a strange mixture of the two styles. Similarly, someone who has been practising one skill for a long time and then takes up another wi transfer their way of moving from the first skill to the second. Their Shaolin wi have a distinctly Taiji flavour. It's unavoidable for a while. Everything wi taste of sweet and sour!
But we should try and approach our skills with an "empty cup" (I'm assuming you all know the old Zen story) and attempt to feel and then express the energy and the principles of each skill on their own terms. We do the skills a disservice if we don't make this attempt and we may not get the full benefit of our training either. It's good to have a "mother skill" but we shouldn't just transfer this way of moving onto other skills. Anyway, it's fun and it's good for us to learn different ways of moving the body - and the mind.
To use another analogy, people often ask of Taiji, "What's the self defence application for this move?" But actually, each move has quite a few applications. I just pick what seems the easiest to understand and what will work for that particular student. Taiji is not a limited self defence system - though there are only a handful of principles to understand intellectually, there are many ways to apply the principles in fighting.
To broaden the picture a bit, all religions and philosophies tell us there are certain spiritual principles that govern the universe and having once seen, experienced or connected with these principles, we can never quite see things the same way again. It's like seeing the clapboard, wire and struts behind a Hollywood set. You can no longer believe it's Paris or a Wild West street. Of course, if you're in the movie, people may be trying to seduce you or shoot you down and you have to act/ react accordingly! But your perception wil have changed.
However, we now have to deal with that
a separate reality and therefore a separate value. Even the Dalai Lama or the Pope still have to choose between (and therefore value) either tea or coffee. I believe that all beings, human and non-human are on the path to enlightenment but I still have to make judgements and treat different people, different situations in different ways.
We hopefully have underlying principles which we can apply to situations. That helps a lot. Forexample, if we always try to be kind we'll make good karma for all. But what constitutes a kindness to one person may not be a kindness to another. To do a kindness to person "A" may involve a hug, the words "It's ok" and a chat over a cup of tea. To do a kindness to person "B" may involve the words "I'm not going to be involved in anything you do until you stop screwing up. Now go away and think about it." Different methods, of course, but still trying to give each person what they need to change and grow. One principle, different applications.
So please be clear about the principles, in your various skills and in your approach to changed perception, that glimpse of er.. an ultimate reality plus the usual day-to-day, shared reality we call the world or the ten thousand things (from the Dao De Jing). Though ultimately everything is one, people, situations, etc. still have
A kindness to one person may not be a kindness to another."
life, but be prepared also to be flexible in your mind about applying those principles in different ways. Though we all have days we could quite accurately describe as sweet and sour, the universe is too big to just have one flavour! It's up to us to do our best to apply our principles skilfully. The result, the wise say, belongs to the gods. Only the effort belongs to us_
by Julian Wilde. [email protected]
Taijiquan has had a slow introduction to the West. It first became known after the Second World War and interest only really picked up during the 1970s. At that time the major schools in the West were from the Yang family tradition and sub-traditions.
Taijiquan and Daoism aijiquan was taught primarily as a health exercise like yoga. There was a mild flirtation with Eastern mysticism but little was taught or known about its martial aspect.
In fact throughout the world there was a debate as to whether Taijiquan actually was a martial art. According to Chen family tradition Taijiquan originated with Chen Wangting at the end of the Ming and start of the Qing Dynasties in the mid-seventeenth century. Chen Wangting inherited a family tradition of martial arts that dated back at least as far as Chen Bu who established Chen village in the mid fourteenth century.
Chen Wangting was in the ninth generation of the Chen family, and was the Commander of Wenxian Garrison, under the Ming dynasty. His military career was abruptly ended when the Ming dynasty was deposed by the Manchus.
Chen Wangting devoted himself to self cultivation and developed Taijiquan by combining his knowledge of martial arts with the Daoshu movement and breathing exercises known as Daoyin and Tuna. The earliest textual source of these two terms is the Daoist classic the Zhuang Zhou (369 - 286BC), which dates from the Warring States period.
In its gently mocking tone, Chapter 15 of the Zhuang Zhou says, 'Breathe in and out in different ways, spitting out the old and taking in the new, strolling like a bear and stretching like a bird, and all just to achieve a long life. This is what such practitioners of Daoyin, cultivators of the body and all those searching for long life like Ancestor Peng enjoy.'
Thus even in Zhaung Zhou's day there was already an established tradition of Daoshu exercises extending back to the otherwise unknown ancestor Peng. 'Daoyin' is composed of two words - 'Dao' - 'lead' or 'guide' and - 'Yin' -'lead' or 'induce'. In the term Daoyin they are normally understood as meaning 'guiding the breath and leading the body'. Daoyin is normally defined as a name for moving the muscles and bones, exercising the limbs and joints. Literally it is a combination of breathing and movement, where one breathes in Qi and uses movements to circulate it to the extremities of the body.
The qualities of movements are believed to determine how the Qi circulates. The softer and more gentle the breathing and the movements are the deeper the Qi can penetrate into the body and organs promoting good health and longevity. Continuous movements help prevent and remove blockages. Fast movements can be used to generate power but relaxation is essential. Fast tense movements can damage the body and ultimately block the development of Fajing.
Tuna is the name of a breathing technique which literally translates as 'spitting out and taking in'. During the Period of Disunity (221 - 589 AD) Tuna became a common collective term for a wide variety of breathing techniques. The basic theory is that by breathing you live. When you breathe in you take in Yuan Qi (original / heaven Qi) from the atmosphere or universe around you. This strengthens and replenishes your own body's Qi. The deeper and slower the breath the more Yuan Qi that can be absorbed.
In normal everyday life most people only partially use the capacity of their lungs. A portion of carbon dioxide or stale air remains in the lungs, mixing with the 'fresh breath', making breathing less efficient. A range of different techniques were developed within Daoshu to improve exhalation, to completely empty the lungs, get rid of stale Qi (breath) and then breathe in fresh Qi to fill the lungs.
Some of the more common techniques include, Bi-Qi - closing the breath -which involves slowing the breathing to such a degree that one cannot hear the breath, and Xiao Zhou Tian - circulating the Qi around the microcosmic orbit.
It is this incorporation of Daoyin and Tuna techniques that forms the basis of Taijiquan being considered a Daoist martial art. The most important techniques that Taijiquan takes from Tuna are the relaxation and slowing of the breath and the small and large circulation techniques. These techniques are associated with Daoshu - the arts of the way, rather than Daojiao - religious Daoism. Taijiquan is not a religious practice of itself, though the physical techniques developed in Taijiquan can be used to complement a wide variety of spiritual traditions. Most cultures respect the value of keeping ones self healthy and fit.
Chen Taijiquan is a complete system in which each individual aspect supports each other aspect. The techniques that provide the health benefits of Taijiquan are also the foundation of the body conditioning for Taijiquan as a martial art. The principles of relaxation, good posture and movement principle also run through the development of Fajing power that is essential for its martial aspect. It is important for students and teachers of Taijiquan to understand how it relates to Daoist traditions so that the art is not misrepresented, but it is more important to realise that all this information is secondaryto what you learn directlyfrom your teacher and above all else -practice^
by Glenn Gossling. [email protected]
Creative Practice y thinking can get me into i trouble. It takes me round in Icircles, returning to certain themes and issues again and again, until I tire of them and give them up. Deciding to act on the basis of these thoughts, continues the ceaseless round and gets me embroiled in a sense of futility and hopelessness. In contrast, my Qigong practice brings me to a still centre. It reminds me of my wholeness and completion, whatever is going on in my life.
Sometimes the clamour of my thinking is so persistent, I feel intense resistance to the practice. Yet I know from experience, that this will pass. Just going outside into the garden has a beneficial effect. The freshness of the air and the light bring me into more immediate contact with each moment. I breathe a deep sigh and then begin.
Often my Qigong starting position prepares me. It opens the Qi Hu points in the chest and brings Qi to the legs through the Huantiao points. If I am practising Taijiquan, the bending of the knees, sinking the Qi to the Dantian engages heart and mind in the present. Usually, Taiji practice absorbs my attention more fully than the Qigong, as I notice how much I relax and move the waist, observe transfer of weight from one leg to the other, consider smoothness of action and possible applications. So, when I practise Qigong,
I become aware of these
I become aware of these also.
Nowadays, I am able to laugh at how my mind gets distracted. Just noticing brings it back to the movement at hand. In summer, a bit more weeding gets done, as I catch sight of the weeds that have started to flourish and pull them up between forms - though some of them I leave to flower and add colour to the garden.
The lawn has developed lumps and bumps, worn out areas, through all the hours of practice. There is some plastic netting over some of it. These obstacles I negotiate too! The rosemary bush gets regular thwacks from my staff when practising. Often the staff hits a metal pole that juts out at the boundary fence. Some parts of the form go literally 'up the garden path', others across the lawn. I like to vary where I start, but sometimes the 'shape' of a form requires me to start at a certain place.
All these factors serve to make Qigong a really creative practice. It is never the same and it always shows me the state of my mind and heart (as well as the state of the garden!). It is a wonderful way to come through the senseless chatter of my mind and to acknowledge my connection with the Universe and the fullness of life.
Right action is likely to come from a mind that feels connected - naturally doing what feels right, and will benefit the whole. Both peace and fulfilment are present in such action^
by Helen Massy. [email protected]
Instructor Insight: Cat Rowe -
Whatever good deed I must have performed to deserve such luck, I cannot remember. I wasn't thinking about needing to exercise more, I wasn't actively looking for a club to join - yet Qigong fell into my lap. My Sifu, Kate Britton, happened to advertise her classes where I worked in Leamington and I was intrigued. Always open to 'alternative' concepts and fascinated by other cultures, I wanted to find out more.
Having practised Hatha Yoga for 5 years, I was aware of how ancient theories on exercise and health could be of benefit but I wasn't prepared for such a big and constant improvement. Even in the early days, (when I felt guilty having practiced only once at home and forgotten part of what I'd learnt the previous week), I still found my back getting stronger, asthma attacks getting fewer and many other benefits too numerous to mention.
Three and a half years later I had the honour of being asked by my sifu to go on the Instructor course to learn to pass the skill on to others. It was scary at first but I met so many friendly, supportive people that I soon felt at home. Afterwards, before the first seminar I ran, I was having a meal with my family, talking about all the benefits I'd gained from Qigong, when my father added another - You're so much nicer to be with, calmer and more positive - and everyone agreed with him!
Now I can pass this powerful skill on to my new Coventry class where I'm starting another exciting learning curve. And how can I thank Sifu, Sigong, Tai Sigong and all my Qigong ancestors for all this? I can only strive to be a good student.
Once you have created the land of milk and honey, with all its trappings, there will always be someone out there who wants a little bit of what you've got. So, you have to build walls, in order to defend and keep safe what is precious to you.
For many centuries, the castle was a functional piece of real estate, but brick and mortar rises and falls and the bottom was about to fall out of this fixed commodity with the appearance of the cannon. The cannon could knock holes in the walls, breaching the security of the castle allowing the enemy to come flooding in.
Wing Chun's three main hand techniques Bong Sau, Tan Sau and Fuk Sau, can be seen to serve the same function as a castle wall. The hand positions are in place to defend what exists inside them and to keep out what is beyond. You are behind the wall, protected by the space, which has been created by the structure of your hand position. The structure of the hand positions can be found in the first form of Wing Chun, Siu Lim Tao.
The dimensions and heights of the hand techniques in Siu Lim Tao create a template, a guide foryou to follow. When you practise the form you can make the positions accurate and correct, but when you come to use them, try not to make them as fixed as the walls of a castle. For instance, if you use a Bong Sau to defend yourself and you make a rigid structure, your opponent can use the
"Wing Chun creates walls that
Of course the walls of a castle cannot be moved. By their very nature they are fixed. However, the walls created by Wing Chun are walls that can move and still retain the space that has been formed within them. In order to be able to move or change a wall you have
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