Taijiquan

I started training in Japanese martial arts at about 12 years old (a brief tussle with Judo at age 7 notwithstanding). I was lucky enough to train at a very traditional dojo founded by English students of Japanese masters, so my Budo training included external and internal arts – Karate and Aikido for example.

When I moved away from home to study at college, I discovered Taichi and Chinese neigong (internal training) which completely changed my practice. I have been studying various forms of Taiji and Qigong ever since. My current (and longest) dedication has has been to Northern Wu style Taijiquan, taught by the 5th generation lineage-bearer, for the last 7 or so years.

The most intriguing part of studying Taiji is this “fusion of opposites” – hard and soft, full and empty, stillness and movement, etc. It takes a while to “let go” enough of our ingrained Western tension (tight shoulders, clenched fists, closed heart) and reliance on muscular strength, but once you relax fully into it you will experience a gradual dawning – a blossoming even – of power without force. It is a great amusement to see the shock on new students’ faces when you physically move them all around the room, touching lightly without exerting any strength, and yet they are powerless to resist.

… then later, smiling with them as they demonstrate Taiji principles exactly the same way. We were all there once, brand new and amazed by the “magic”, by the super powers our older brothers and sisters possess. Then eventually we understand and apply the principles ourselves, they fuse with our being in such a way that it would be unnatural not to embody them with every breath, every step, every door we open or close.

Right, enough waffle from me, suffice it to say that Taijiquan has changed my life for the better and there is no point at which I will stop practicing, even in my ancient old age.

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