Brewers Blog

Welcome to my personal world of random and very occasional internet ramblings, mostly regarding taiji and suchlike bits of my existence........

Take it all with a pinch of salt, I know I do  <g>

Since I recently received a request to complete a research survey about Taiji from a university I thought I would kill 2 stones in my sometimes busy existence by both completing the survey AND using it as an opportunity to learn/experiment with blogging: So, here we go....

PS I'm currently running at about one entry a year so don't hold your breath...................


Jane Elizabeth Pace: In Memoriam

Requiem and in Memoriam:  Jane Elizabeth Pace 
Born Jan 1958 – Died Oct 2015

I met Jane when she came to my Taijiwuxigong Class in 2006. We shared a magical connection, by coincidence having grown up amongst the same people and places, being the same age, same chinese horoscope, both having come from a life of spirit work, and we knew & recognised each other from past lives. We became friends instantly, then over time grew closer & became lovers. There was a period of great bliss together for us, but ultimately the intensity of our relationship was too much and this, coupled with work stresses and the death of her mother, led Jane to move to the country seeking a happier and more peaceful new life. 

In November 2011 Jane accompanied and supported me at the funeral of our Taiji Teacher and Buddhist Lama, Dr. Shen Hongxun, and shortly thereafter we separated by mutual consent, remaining good friends and forever deeply connected. 

On Wednesday 28 Oct 2015 she was driving to work at Royal Surrey Hospital and at 7.20 in the morning, on a quiet country village street, was involved in a freak road traffic accident, tragically resulting in her instantaneous death.

Website work

modestly boring but neccessary, so at least the HeavenMountain site is up to date for now as at 13 June ;-)



Applications Workshop

Just a quick thank you to all the students who came to the Applications Workshop last Sunday and made it such a good day. It really was a pleasure to do and Teach some of the more sophisticated aspects of the Postures and Applications and I look forward to more of the same :-)


The Birth of HeavenMountain

By way of a thank you to all of you, colleagues and friends, for your many good wishes on the Birthday Anniversary of the Heavenmountain Taijiquan Facebook page, I hope you will enjoy this tale.


The Birth of HeavenMountain.


After some 10 years or so of studying Tai Chi with my first teacher, I had moved on. I worked and studied on my own for a couple of years and was privileged to spend a considerable amount of time in the company of my dear friend and eminent Acupuncturist Ranald McDonald, studying and practising the traditional Yang family Sansou and eating a lot of chinese food. As a result of our conversations it seemed an attractive and inevitable step to go to Acupuncture college and study, so, on the morning of Saturday, 5 March 1994, around 10am, I found myself sitting in a large gymnasium hall in Reading, England. I was hanging out with my classmates, drinking Coffee, telling jokes, chatting, as you do before work begins. We were allegedly there to study the application of Qi in needling techniques. 

Internet Gurus

Bill who?

An Essay on the subject of Bill Douglas: July 2014

Okay, first of all I don't really know
personally who Bill Douglas is, but what I do know is that he's the organiser of world Tai Chi and Qigong day and clearly an expert in Internet self-promotion, T-shirt sales and networking, since he’s been sending me e-mails in profuse quantities for at least 8 years. Normally I delete most of my e-mails but there's at least 100 from him in my inbox. I did participate in world Tai Chi and Qigong day for a couple of years; some of my students still wear the shirts.

I once e-mailed him in response to something he sent in which he suggested that in his opinion it was appropriate to vertically align the 3 Dantiens of the body with the weight more to the heels than on to the front of the foot. I suggested to him that this was not something that I could ever agree with and pointed out a number of technical reasons why it is in general widespread practice, even common knowledge, (ask an acupuncturist), that in standing practice to develop Qi the weight should be forwards in the ball of the foot area generally considered to be Yong Quan, often translated as bubbling spring, because that's where the force gets into the body from the Earth.

There's so much to this possible conversation that it would form the basis for a book in its own right, something I don't really have time to do right now. Let's just try and condense the main points for the moment. Like Bill, I spent the last 30 years of my life studying and teaching Tai Chi and Qigong: most of them with the late Dr Shen Hongxun, born in Shanghai in 1939, who as a child lived just down the street from Tian Shao Lin and used to watch him practising, who started studying Tai Chi with Prof Yao Huan Zhi at the age of 8 or 9 and who’s Tai Chi and Qigong knowledge and abilities in both my opinion and observation greatly surpassed those of any other so-called teacher or master in the modern world.

Easter Meditation

Off we went to Shropshire for the Easter Meditation course with Shen Jin.

Five days of chilling out, peace and quiet, good food, good company and Meditation practice.

very wonderful it was too ;-)

nice to come home feeling refreshed and inspired


Late Spring


Well is April and only last week it was still snowing here :-)

The Easter Meditation course with Shen Jin in Shropshire cheered me up a bit, and at last the sun came out, only for a day or two, mind you

It's all new classes and courses all week, so come on down and have some fun and get well while you're doing it.

New Year

Febuary already 

hope the snow stays away

spring is coming


How not to get a Tai Chi Teacher


For over 20 years my phone number has been in the public domain. This has allowed me to experience a wide range of of abuse and disrespect from people I have never met. 

At 9.08am this (Saturday) morning morning I enjoyed a particularly pointless and annoying specimen, courtesy of a rather posh sounding lady from the Hampton area. 

She was anxious to know about Tai chi classes, rolled on about how she had been searching the net for some time, then randomly suddenly wanted to know if it was too early in the morning and she should ring back later.

" No, I've been up for hours. How did you get my phone number ?"

"Is that relevant?", she replied.  Well, it is to me, I thought: 

but what I explained in my most polite and helpful manner to her was that there were several search websites where she could get my number, but only a few that had current and accurate class details, which was what she was looking for.

I asked her if she was currently on the net, which she was, and what page she was looking at, so I could best help by directing her to the relevant information.

The Trap

 

I recently attended an "advanced"  Tai Chi workshop:


Sadly, it was from my perspective a lacklustre affair: the offering on the (single) day I attended was in general vague, imprecise, ill informed and almost entirely lacking in any of the necessary ingredients of Tai Chi, such as stretching, expansion, clarity of substantial and insubstantial, Yin & Yang, uprightness and most sadly Shen or Spirit. 

In terms of the specific subject matter, which I have been intimately familiar with from its original source for over 20 years, various postures were ommitted, misplaced and/or misunderstood. 

The teacher seemed uninterested in and resistant to any new possibilities;  to part paraphrase, mostly quote  –  “I don’t want to change it, I want to make it work this way even if it is wrong”  and for me the only virtues of the day were good weather and a nice lunch. 

I have little doubt that this teacher is a nice man, genuinely believes he is teaching Tai Chi and means well for his students, but the body of work offered up bears a rather tenuous relationship (although modelled on and directly descended from) to that originally taught and is a classic example of the diminishment in quality that appears to be engulfing and neutering Tai Chi in the modern world.  

Zhan Zhuang - No it isn't!

Irritating me today is this quote, taken from an email sent out by a self styled world famous Tai Chi authority:

 "part of a tradition of Chinese standing and moving mediation forms called Zhan Zhuang which is literally translated into English as "standing like a tree""


No, it isn't. This is the kind of hippy bullshit that is slowly turning Tai Chi into some kind of gloopy new age arm waving without function. 


The proper translation of "Zhan Zhuang" in the context of Tai Chi practice is "standing on a pole (or tree stump, hence the easy mistake).

It refers specifically to the following method of defence used by small chinese communities in the middle ages. Often a deep ditch was dug around the village: where water was readily available it was filled and became a moat. In many instances this was not the case, so instead of water, the ditch was filled with pointed upright stakes, poles and other nasties to impale would-be interlopers. However, to allow nighttime access to the resident tribal members some poles (tree stumps) were left flat topped and set in a particular pattern. This pattern, known only to the occupying tribe, was learned so that it could be walked in the dark, allowing residents in but keeping others out. The standing practice performed as preparation for learning the walking pattern was called, yes, you guessed it, Zhan Zhuang.

Vibration Force

We all had a very nice day at the Vibration Force seminar yesterday, despite me having mild food poisoning from a dodgy chinese on Friday night. Everyone made it through what was a surprisingly tough day and seemed happy but knackered by the end of it.

My thumb is working (but still quite inflexible) and so I'm back to hospital on Friday for another inspection and more physio. Hopefully it will work itself out.

Looking forward to the summer, with nice weather from here on in with a bit of luck and a few away gigs to brighten up the middle of the year.

Taiji Survey

 

University of Wales Lampeter

MA in Eastern and Western Approaches to the Body

Tai Chíi Practitioner Questionnaire

 

I am seeking your views as part of a study into Tai Chíi (Taijiquan) for a dissertation I am carrying out at the University of Wales, Lampeter; your contribution would be extremely valuable, and I would be grateful if you could respond to the questions below by email.

 

Questionnaires are being sent both to respondents active in the field of Tai Chíi, and to respondents from the medical and scientific community as an exploration of traditional Chinese and modern western views. 

 

There is obviously potential benefit in increased understanding of tai ch'i, and in realistic assessment of health and martial aspects.  The implications of the study may impinge on the relationship between traditional Chinese explanations and theories, and the world views supporting modern science.

 

Please note that while the questions specifically mention "tai ch'i", they topic is meant to include tai ch'i ch'uan, pakua, hsing i, i ch'uan, li he ba fa, ch'i kung, or any other similar relevant art.