About Tai Chi & Internal Martial Arts

Tai Chi Chuan (Taijiquan) is a Chinese ‘internal’ martial art, widely practised as a mind-body exercise for health and wellbeing – it is often referred to simply as ‘Tai Chi’ – the word ‘Chuan’ translates as fist or boxing. The exact origins of Tai Chi Chuan are still debated and historically was known by other names, such as ‘Cotton Boxing’.

Tai Chi, Yin & Yang

The name Tai Chi Chuan appears to have been adopted around the mid-1800’s, when the art was named after the philosophical concept of Tai Chi (Taiji) – an ancient concept from Chinese (Daoist) philosophy and cosmology, depicted in the well-known ‘Tai Chi Tu’ or Yin / Yang symbol. The word ‘Tai’ translates as great, ultimate or supreme, and ‘Chi’ or ‘Ji’ as pole or polarity. The term Tai Chi literally means ‘great polarity’ (note the word ‘Chi / Ji’ in the term Tai Chi / Taiji is a completely different word from the ‘Chi’ in Chi Kung / Qi Gong).

In Tai Chi Chuan practice, the Yin / Yang concept is relevant to interaction, relationship, balance and harmony, pairs of opposites, polarity or duality – e.g. up & down, left & right, lightness & heaviness, harness & softness, etc.

Tai Chi & Wu Chi

Traditional writings on Tai Chi Chuan (known as the ‘Tai Chi Classics’), contain the following phrase:

‘Tai Chi comes from Wu Chi and is the mother of Yin and Yang. In motion, Tai Chi separates, in stillness, Yin and Yang fuse and return to Wu Chi’


Wu Chi is symbolised by an empty circle and translates as ‘no polarity’, referring to wholeness, non-duality, resolution, integration of opposites and unity beyond apparent differences – ‘Wu Chi’ therefore has a equivalent meaning to the word ‘Yoga’.

The practice can be seen as a journey from Tai Chi to Wu Chi – for example, through the process of integrating of discrete awareness of separate elements (Tai Chi) into whole body awareness (Wu Chi), or in the journey from uncomfortable and awkward initial stages of learning, to the point where the practice becomes more natural and effortless (Wu Wei).

Tai Chi Chuan

Tai Chi Chuan practice includes solo exercises, flowing movement sequences (forms), partner exercises and martial arts training.

The main styles of Tai Chi Chuan are Chen, Yang, Wu and Sun, plus a few other variations – these refer to historical teachers’ names or families of teachers e.g. Yang style was founded by Yang Lu Chan (1789 to 1872), and carried on by future generations of the Yang family and their students. Beyond the main styles, there are many variations, offshoots and sub-lineages, created by subsequent generations of teachers, which continues to the present day.

Internal Martial Arts & Beyond – The Wider Context

Tai Chi Chuan is included within a wider group of Chinese ‘internal martial arts’ collectively termed ‘Neijia’, which includes generally less well known arts such as Baguazhang, Xingyiquan and Yiquan – and beyond this grouping, these arts sit within the vast culture of ‘Chinese Boxing’. Wider still, there are other (internal) martial arts and body-mind practices from Asia & other cultures which share common ideas (e.g. aikido, silat, systema, hatha yoga, somatic, body-mind practices).

My Tai Chi & Internal Martial Arts Background

My main Tai Chi Chuan lineage comes from Cheng Man-ch’ing (1902 to 1975) and his students – a branch of Yang style Tai Chi Chuan – I’ve met and trained with many teachers in this approach over the past 25 years – the main influence in recent years has been Bret Hall, who was a student of Carol Yamasaki, Benjamin Lo and Liu Xiheng. More recently, I’ve been learning Baguazhang and Wu Style via Paul Rogers and his student Paul Britten.

My Teaching Approach

The main Tai Chi Chuan form taught is the ‘37 Form‘ sequence (a simplified ‘Yang style’ Tai Chi form developed in the 1940’s by Cheng Man-ch’ing of around 60-70 movements). The workshop programme also includes Baguazhang for Beginners.

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2024 Tai Chi & Baguazhang – Workshops

Tai Chi, Qigong & Bagua workshops at Partickhill Bowling & Community Club

January

Saturday 27th January – 11:30am to 3pm – Tai Chi Workshop (37 Form, Partnerwork, Pushing Hands)

Sunday 28th January – 11:30am to 3pm – Qigong & Bagua Workshop (Huang Sheng Shyan’s 5 Loosening Exercises, Bagua Basics)

February

Saturday 10th February – 11:30am to 3pm – Tai Chi Workshop (37 Form, Partnerwork, Pushing Hands)

Saturday 17th February – 11:30am to 3pm – Qigong & Bagua Workshop (Liu Xiheng’s Exercises, Bagua Basics)

March

Saturday 30th March – 11:30am to 3pm – Tai Chi Workshop (37 Form, Partnerwork, Pushing Hands)

Sunday 31st March – 11:30am to 3pm – Qigong & Bagua Workshop (Shibashi Tai Chi Qigong, Bagua Basics)

April

Sat 13th April – 11:30am to 3pm – Tai Chi & Qigong Foundations Workshop (Foundation Course Review)

May

Saturday 25th May – 11:30am to 3pm – Tai Chi Workshop (37 Form, Partnerwork, Pushing Hands)

Sunday 26th May – 11:30am to 3pm – Qigong & Bagua Workshop (Huang Sheng Shyan’s 5 Loosening Exercises, Bagua Basics)

June

Saturday 22nd June – 11:30am to 3pm – Tai Chi Workshop (37 Form, Partnerwork, Pushing Hands)

Saturday 23rd June – 11:30am to 3pm – Qigong & Bagua Workshop (Liu Xiheng’s Exercises, Bagua Basics)

July

Saturday 27th July – 11:30am to 3pm – Tai Chi Workshop (37 Form, Partnerwork, Pushing Hands)

Sunday 28th July – 11:30am to 3pm – Qigong & Bagua Workshop (Shibashi Tai Chi Qigong, Bagua Basics)

August

Saturday 10th August – 11:30am to 3pm – Tai Chi & Qigong Foundations Workshop (Foundation Course Review)

September

Saturday 28th September – 11:30am to 3pm – Tai Chi Workshop (37 Form, Partnerwork, Pushing Hands)

Sunday 29th September – 11:30am to 3pm – Qigong & Bagua Workshop (Huang Sheng Shyan’s 5 Loosening Exercises, Bagua Basics)

October

Saturday 26th October – 11:30am to 3pm – Tai Chi Workshop (37 Form, Partnerwork, Pushing Hands)

Saturday 27th October – 11:30am to 3pm – Qigong & Bagua Workshop (Liu Xiheng’s Exercises, Bagua Basics)

November

Saturday 23rd November – 11:30am to 3pm – Tai Chi Workshop (37 Form, Partnerwork, Pushing Hands)

Sunday 24th November – 11:30am to 3pm – Qigong & Bagua Workshop (Shibashi Tai Chi Qigong, Bagua Basics)

December

Saturday 7th December – 11:30am to 3pm – Tai Chi & Qigong Foundations Workshop (Foundation Course Review)

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2024 Tai Chi – Retreats

Tai Chi retreat days at the Trossachs Tryst in Callander

May

Sunday 12th May 2024 – 10am to 5pm – Tai Chi Foundations & 37 Form

July

Sunday 7th July 2024 – 10am to 5pm – Tai Chi Partnerwork & Pushing Hands

August

Saturday 17th August 2024 – 10am to 5pm – Tai Chi Foundations & 37 Form

2024 Baguazhang – Retreat

A ‘Baguazhang For Beginners’ retreat day at the Trossachs Trust in Callander

December

Sunday 8th December 2024 – 10am to 5pm – Bagua Basics

See also About Tai Chi Partnerwork section