Taiji and Qigong Coming Soon to a Calendar Near You

I’ve been trying to plan my taiji and qigong year for the past couple of months. Naturally I don’t want to clash my workshops with anyone else’s but I had to go to a number of sources to find out what’s going on and when. It took ages. There are already some unfortunate clashes. But the result is …..drumroll….. a taiji calendar of events in Scotland.

I hope it will be useful not only to students wanting to see what’s on but also to organisers so that they can avoid clashes.

We’re kind of making it up as we go along. What information do people need? And of course it’s not definitive. Some workshops are only circulated by email or facebook page to people who already follow that school, because, for example, students of Yang style taiji will not be interested in going to a Chen style workshop. That’s fair enough.

Then again, some teachers are a bit mysterious – they don’t mean to be – they are used to the same people turning up every year, usually members of their weekly classes, who know what to expect. Or they don’t mention the cost of the workshop, or the times, which means that people have to ask, wait for an answer and then discover that, by the time you’ve booked travel and accommodation, what seemed a reasonably priced workshop has used up a large chunk of the annual budget.

However, there are a lot of workshops, particularly Qigong workshops,  that are of interest to a wide range of people, so here is a start. I tried to find a plug in for the website but all the calendars I came across required me to write an article about it, which will be too time consuming. In the end I went for a Google calendar. It still needs me to fill it in to start it off, but I believe that it is editable, thus enabling organisers themselves to add more information as it comes to hand. If you can suggest a better one, please let me know.

If you’re organising an event and would like it to be included here, please provide as much information as possible. I think what we need to know is:

  • Date
  • Place (General and postcode for satnav)
  • Times (Can I get there in time or do I need accommodation?)
  • Teacher and style
  • Particular topic (Have I done this before or is it new? Is it suitable for beginners, or do you have to be able to stand on one leg? )
  • Cost (including how and when to pay and whether a deposit is required)
  • Are refreshments or meals provided or available?

At the moment I’m just covering Scotland but if anyone can point me to a better calendar with a way of searching by area, it could be rolled out nationwide or even international.

All feedback welcome!

 

 

 

 

Back to the Day Job

There’s this guy called Ronnie. He was the centre of the taiji world in Scotland – yes, I know that’s a big claim, but he edited and produced the tai chi union magazine and he founded and has run an amazing annual festival of taiji called Tai Chi Caledonia for 20 years. Through his contacts he has spread incalculable knowledge for which people all over the world are grateful.

Continue reading “Back to the Day Job”

Silk Reeling Practise

The Ten Principles of taiji and qigong, were first mentioned in The Canon of Taiji Chuan.

I studied these with the inspiring Barry McGinlay of the Tai Chi Life School at Tai Chi Caledonia one year. Like most worthwhile exercises, they are easy to say, but not so easy to do. It’s all very well listing the ten principles and talking about them but how do you practise them in a workshop? 

Since they are very much about linking upper and lower, inner and outer and so on, what we need are simple exercises that use the whole body. We want to be able to feel the way energy moves from the earth, through bubbling spring (yong quan) in the foot, up the legs, through the waist, up and through to the fingers. We repeat these exercises (as) many times (as you wish) so that you can explore the effect we are concentrating on.

If you already practise taiji, you already know a number of suitable exercises, such as brush knee twist step and fair lady works the shuttle. In the workshop, I’ll be offering silk reeling exercises.

Silk was and still is an important product in the Chinese economy. The silkworm larva wraps itself in a cocoon. To obtain silk from the cocoon, it has to be drawn out or reeled out extremely carefully. The action must be smooth and consistent without jerking or changing direction sharply. If you go too fast, the silk thread becomes too thin and breaks. If you pull too slowly, it sticks to itself and becomes tangled and lumpy. Thus, silk reeling is a highly skilled art. The movements are continuous, cyclic, spiralling and performed at constant speed – exactly what we are looking for in a taiji exercise.

Silk reeling can be practised single or double handed, solo and with a partner. The movements trace a taijitu (yinyang symbol) pattern using the waist while shifting the weight from leg to leg.

It’s a very popular exercise in Chen style taiji and I also spent a week at Caledonia with Master Wang Hai Jun, who makes them look wonderfully elegant and effortless – here’s a link.