I was first introduced to Shibashi by the late great Ronnie Robinson at a taster workshop during Tai Chi Caledonia.
“I’m not going to say anything,” he announced, waving us into a circle on the grass. “Just copy me. I’ll repeat the moves about four times. If I keep going, one of you isn’t doing it right and I’ll keep going until you do it right so pay attention.”
I was intrigued as to how I might learn something that way, but it worked. Not to the point that I could remember all the moves or the order they came in, but I could certainly follow and repeat in a meaningful way. The lack of oral instruction gave me time and space to listen to how it felt in my own body. We all finished with big smiles on our faces.
When I did my two year teacher training course, I was delighted to learn that Shibashi would be on the syllabus and that Ronnie would be teaching it. At that level, naturally, we went into things in greater depth. I have books a DVD and notes galore, but it is the simplicity of the moves that makes it accessible to everyone. I teach it weekly at our over 65s Friendship Club, where some of them regard it as ‘exercises’ and some of them ‘get it’ as qigong or taiji.
When I give a demonstration of qigong at a Women’s Group, School Health Week or whatever, Shibashi is the ideal form to present. Unlike Ronnie, who knew he was teaching people with at least the basics of qigong understanding, I go through each move once. I explain to people that when I ask them to put their hands here, I mean here and not there, because we are activating precise acupuncture points. And I also want to ensure that people don’t try too hard, making big moves. Often western people associate exercise with painful stretching and great effort, whereas eastern exercises are much more gentle and in the case of qigong and taiji, it is internal energy that is being worked.
And then we do go through the moves without instruction, because people are confident enough to follow me and the music. And they pretty well always finish with big smiles on their faces.
When is the next workshop?
There are now nine versions of Shibashi, each with eighteen moves. I shall be teaching this lovely form at Portavadie on Sunday 14th April as part of a me-time day retreat with Di Oliver. Di will be teaching Dru Yoga and when not working in the studio with us, you can enjoy lunch, a glass of bubbly and all the facilities of the Spa.