Saturday, 29 December 2018


Tai Chi is propelled movement...

Mind propels the energy

Energy propels the body

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Sunday, 16 December 2018


This is a great clip. especially worth paying attention to how the stepping is done. Also front and back views of the traditional form.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Peng Visualisation

Click on the link below from Scott Meredith's blog for an exercise to realise the energy of Peng which permeates Tai Chi.

Although it is set within the context of ward off right posture it is in all of them and beyond.


Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Cook Ding's Kitchen: Mastering the Body in Martial Arts

Cook Ding's Kitchen: Mastering the Body in Martial Arts: Below is an excerpt from an article that Nic Asher's website. The full post may be read here . I grew up loving Arnold. I lifted ...

Sunday, 18 November 2018

John Kells - Essential Training

Here is a clip I recorded when staying with John Kells in 2010. This is a fundamental, essential training for those interested in his work.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Double Weightedness

Being double weighted has nothing to do with weight distribution and everything to do with the mind.

When you are caught it is because your mind is double weighted.

On Yielding

Yielding is in the Mind


Hardness is expansion

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Tien Shan Pai - Tai Chi Two Person Set

I love old footage of Chinese martial arts and this two person set is great.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Learning Qi Gong Online

See this post from Angelika Fritzs' Qialance blog about learning Qi Gong online.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Sun style picture

Old photo - Lazy about tying a Coat.

Photo taken by Andy Spragg at Braziers Park, Oxfordshire.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Single Posture Training

Sometimes there is too much of a focus on the form.

It can be very useful to take a posture from the form and explore it on its own. Try different heights and speeds.

If going fast, notice where you depart from the principles. Usually you lose balance. What happens when you move too slow?

Explore the application and variations. In this way you can enrich your tai chi and progress.


If you want to find out about spirit, get someone to give you a slap.

But don't become a hothead.

Cool Head
Warm Belly

Wake up.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Sun style Taijiquan

I have been practising Sun style Taijiquan since 2004. I wish I had discovered it earlier.

Here is an excellent translation by Paul Brennan of Sun Lutang's book.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Ben Lo

Read the tribute by Scott Meredith to the late Ben Lo who passed away yesterday.


Friday, 21 September 2018

It's not about.......

It's not about how many hours you practise your Tai chi every day, in the sense of forms.

You could be doing hours and hours of practise in some pseudo-masochistic disconnected ritual of delusion.

More important is the quality of your practise and being open to moments of insight and subsequent investigation. For example, build the frame ( standing ) then investigate moving the frame ( form ). What method, how to train, how do you move etc.

Let this percolate and permeate your life.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Tapping the Thymus

Interesting article on tapping the Thymus and its importance for health. I first came across this years ago in Donna Eden's book on energy Medicine.

Read the article here

Monday, 10 September 2018

Cook Ding's Kitchen: Enjoying Your Martial Arts Study

Cook Ding's Kitchen: Enjoying Your Martial Arts Study: Below is an excerpt from Green Leaves Forest . The original post may be read here . First of all, Happy New Year! Akemashite omedet...

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Tai Chi in Godalming

My Tai Chi friend Keith Graham is starting a class in September in Godalming, Surrey. He studied with John Kells for many years and is an excellent teacher.

Click on the link to find out more.

Tai Chi in Godalming,Surrey

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Why strong legs?

Read Li I Yu's Five Character Secret and you will find a reference to strengthening the thighs.

So why do you need strong thighs, indeed, strong legs?

This is so the legs can absorb the relaxation of the torso, which then feels light and nimble. The legs also need to relax so the relaxation goes down to the feet. The feet in turn relax not so everything can press into the floor because that is a one sided view.

The ground comes up through the lower limbs into the torso and out to the arms,or for a kick directed into the leg so you are creating a conduit. Slow practise sets up the neural pathways.

This is not a quick thing and requires concentrated practise. As you relax into the legs they complain and I often felt like my legs were leaden. Actually this never seems to end!

As we get older our balance and leg strength can deteriorate so I feel that Tai Chi is a fantastic health promoting activity in this regard.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

What is the Waist?

When you start Tai Chi there is a lot of advice to turn the waist. We are told the waist is not the same as what we think of as the waist but then no one tells you what it is.

So you think of turning from the hips but that's not it. Nor is it turning from the Dan Tien. I remember my late teacher John Kells telling us in class that "what is the waist" was a burning question for him. Eventually he came to the realisation that it was the lumbar spine, like an iron bar and that you turned from there.

Since then a lot of Chinese writings on tai chi have been translated which give detailed information about the waist. which is defined as the Yao. This encompasses the lumbar spine as well as the muscles and tissues around it and this is the area that you turn from, but not like a brick.

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Cook Ding's Kitchen: Book Review: Laoshi and Laoshi's Legacy

I've read the first book and I wasn't too impressed with a comment about a "John Kellerman", a well know London Tai Chi teacher. Sounds too much like my late teacher John Kells.

Cook Ding's Kitchen: Book Review: Laoshi and Laoshi's Legacy: "Philosophy practiced is the goal of learning." - Thoreau Philosophy practiced is the goal of learning. To internalize what o...

Friday, 27 July 2018

Short Form

Me in 2010 practising the short form I learnt from John Kells. The matting was sticky and I almost came a cropper on the spin !

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Internal Chambering

Interesting post from Scott Meredith.

Read here: Internal Chambering

If you haven't read his book Juice - Radical Taiji Energetics, then get it.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Lu Jong - 5 Basic Exercises

Went on a workshop in London to learn these. Great for the spine.

If you are interested then the next one is in August. Follow this link:

Monday, 16 July 2018

Work your Butt off

It was 1984 and I was working for my teacher John Kells. I had to sit at a little desk in the upstairs "Green Room" and take phone calls enquiring about classes, times,costs etc.I also had to send out an information leaflet in response to postal enquiries.

John came in to have a chat. He told me that he had never had a student who practised as much as me and that no matter what happened I should never stop.

He really personified the phrase "work your butt off", so much so that when he turned around I could see he had almost worn away the seat of his tracksuit bottoms.

If you want to be good at Tai Chi or anything, for that matter, you need to put in the work and hopefully will have good teaching to draw on.

I think I have been fortunate to have teachers and tai chi friends who have inspired me and as a result I am in love with Tai Chi and have been able to keep up a daily practise for 37 years. This does not imply mastery or anything else. I seek the light in my practise and not some overbearing, dark, dismal grinding away masquerading as a spiritual way.

Just my opinion and the reader is welcome to theirs and as Patrick Swayze said in Roadhouse "opinions vary".

Meanwhile I'm off to work my butt off with some Xingyi.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Cook Ding's Kitchen: Martial Arts Training in the Summer Heat

This is very pertinent...

Cook Ding's Kitchen: Martial Arts Training in the Summer Heat: Below is an excerpt from a post at Kung Fu Tea regarding training in the summer heat. The full post may be read here . Late last year ...

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

驚き!空手の型の可能性!Heian Nidan by Naka sensei

A student sent me this clip. For students of John Kells it is interesting to see how he is using the heart centre rather than the lower abdomen/hips.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Meaning of Life

Always liked this one

"The meaning of life is life"

John Kells

Monday, 25 June 2018


"Understanding is all about going forwards, not clutching, just entering and being with the consequences of this forward motion"

John Kells

Thursday, 21 June 2018

As we Age

Interesting blog post from Steve Higgins Cold Mountain Internal Arts blog for reflection.

As 60 looms ever larger on the horizon I have to realise that I am no longer living in the body of a 25 year old and you don't bounce back as quickly when you have injured yourself, for example.

I also work with weights but like the blog author prefer a heavy sword and sabre. I also use a 5 kg weights jacket which sits on the upper back, 1 kg weight belt and 0.5 kg weight gloves several times a week.

The article can be read here: Thoughts-on-Weakness

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Inner Sanctum Training

Surfing the web the other day and came across the website of a former student of mine.

Marcus teaches Tai chi , Wing Chun and more. I haven't seen him for a few years but he looks to be doing well.

If you are in the Huntingdon / Godmanchester area then seek him out.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Cook Ding's Kitchen: Book Review: Laoshi and Laoshi's Legacy

Follow the link below for a review of a great new book - Laoshi'sLegacy.

I've read the first one,  Laoshi and will definitely be getting the follow on.

Cook Ding's Kitchen: Book Review: Laoshi and Laoshi's Legacy: "Philosophy practiced is the goal of learning." - Thoreau Philosophy practiced is the goal of learning. To internalize what o...

Friday, 18 May 2018

Don't interrupt me!!!!

I used to get really irritated if someone interrupted my tai chi practise.

I mean, how dare they! I was engaged in deep spiritual work, after all.

This approach is, of course, defective. There is no separation and I should be able to flow and connect from one to the other.

Think carefully - is Tai Chi just your form in a box?

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Yin Yang Philosophy

Great talk by Chungliang Al Huang. I love his enthusiasm and energy and the way he draws you in.

Saturday, 5 May 2018


It's all about the feeling.

That's it.

First Form

John Kells was a student of Dr Chi Chiang Tao and this is the first form I learned.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

My Favourite Books

A while ago I posted a clip of the Guang Ping Yang Tai chi form.

The Tai Chi Boxing Chronicle is one of my favourite books on the Tai Chi classics and is compiled by Kuo Lien-Ying who taught the Guang Ping form.

There are lots of interesting commentaries and points for your practise, such as " In Grasp the bird's tail, when the hands sink back, does this sinking come from the spine?"

For me this is one of those books that you can keep going back to and well worth adding to your collection. It's published by North Atlantic Books, ISBN 1-55643-177-5

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Every Day

Every day I practise my Tai chi, I fall in love with it all over again.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Lots of Practice,not Perfect Practice

Lots of Practice ,not Perfect Practice is the theme of this post over on Devon Boormaster's Blog.

Whilst he write in relation to working with the sword the content is equally applicable to learningTai chi.

The post can be read here.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Old Style Brush Knee

Interesting for those who practise Ch'eng Man Ch'ing form. I also have a friend who practises Yang style like this.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Become Like Air

"It's inevitable that we all become weaker. Keep going until you become like air, space"

from Shadow Inspiration - Sleiman Azizi

Monday, 9 April 2018

Studying with Sun Jian Yun

This is a photo of my Sun style teacher, Dave Martin, studying with Sun Jian Yun in his younger days.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Cook Ding's Kitchen: Interview with Taijiquan Master T.T. Liang

Below is a link to Cook Ding's Kitchen which features an interview with the late T.T.Liang with whom John Kells studied when he was in Boston.

Cook Ding's Kitchen: Interview with Taijiquan Master T.T. Liang: T.T. Liang was a long time student of Cheng Man Ching and was regarded as a master in his own right. Liang lived to be over 100 years old...

Some of my best Teachers

Some of my best teachers are my family, friends, colleagues, jobs and life experiences. Tai Chi is not just something that happens during class or when you do the forms.

Rather it is about taking the principles into daily life and embracing the challenges it throws at you. Applying pushing hands principles to teenagers is especially challenging!

I used to think that jobs got in the way of my practice but have come to understand that there is no separation. Every interaction is the opportunity to connect, to learn and to understand.

I read somewhere that if we think of life as dust, then the Buddhist will seek to transcend it, the Confucian will seek to organise it whilst the Taoist seeks to merge with it. A gross simplification but it makes the point for me.

Friday, 23 March 2018

The Power of Paradox

This is a good post from Martin Boedicker's  Tai Chi Chuan and Philosophy Blog.

"Never let the slightest idea of attack enter your mind." is a quote from Wu Yinghua.Read more about this in:


Sunday, 18 March 2018

Why do Martial Arts

This is a good post on Devon Boorman's blog.

I think the reasons he gives will resonate with you. For me it has always been about working on understanding principles and fun, yes, Fun! Especially when working with like minded partners in pushing hands.

The post can be read here:

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Some connections

Forget the lower tan tien.

Work with connecting the middle tan tien to the ming men and then down to the bubbling well point.

Play with that during your form.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

The Guang Ping Tai Chi Chuan Form

Check this out from Cook Ding's Kitchen. Fantastic!!

Cook Ding's Kitchen: The Guang Ping Tai Chi Chuan Form: From Tai Chi Videos, Y.C. Chiang performing the Guang Ping Tai Chi Chuan form. Chiang was a senior student of Kuo Lien Ying , the ...

Monday, 5 March 2018

The Art of Adele Cloony

Check out the website of my friend Adele Cloony, whose work is influenced by Chinese tradition, Buddhism, Taoism as well as contemporary movements.

Her work is for sale on the Saatchi link if you are interested in purchasing her work.

Her website is:

She will also be giving a talk on the 8th March at the Jamyang Buddhist Centre in London.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Sun Style 2 Person Sword Form Demo

Self-massage as taught by Prof. Cheng Man Ching


John Kells had a YIELD traffic sign in the basement room of his tai chi centre in Upper Wimpole Street, London.

It served as a reminder to all students that this was a cardinal principle. To yield is to accept, not evade. To yield is not just a physical thing, but comes from the heart. Yielding leads to transformation.

A melting acceptance so there is no ego to stand as an obstacle. No intellectual judgement, no clever words.

Stop pretending, stop tricking ourselves. The minute you think you can yield you will be found out.

The crunch comes when under pressure. John at one point used to practise with his partner attacking with knives. I didn't do this but I have found the Sun style Taiji 2 person Sword form to be useful in this regard.

Yield sign

Saturday, 24 February 2018

My Favourite Books

Return to Stillness: Twenty Years with a Tai Chi Master is a great book by Trevor Carolan, telling his story about learning Tai Chi and the philosophy underpinning it.

It is about experiencing the sacramental.

The link on Amazon UK is: Return-Stillness-Twenty-Years-Master

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Shaolin 6 Harmony (Liu He) Gong - 少林六合功

I learned this from my Sun style teacher's wife a few years ago. I find it has a really calming effect.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Cook Ding's Kitchen: The Poetry of Taijiquan Master Cheng Man Ching

This is interesting....

Cook Ding's Kitchen: The Poetry of Taijiquan Master Cheng Man Ching: Cheng Man Ching (Zheng ManQing) was not only a master of Taijiquan, but also a physician, chess master, painter and poet. Below is a vid...

Friday, 2 February 2018

No Sword in the Kitchen

During the poor weather most of my training takes place in a small kitchen.

I can comfortably adjust my Tai chi and Xingyi training but there is no room to swing a sword. I've tried doing my Tai Chi sword form with knives and short plastic swords but it never feels right.

In the end I have found it best to do the form without anything in my hand. Instead I visualise that I have a sword in my hand which works for me and doesn't detract from the form. This also keeps the sword form alive for me during the times I can't train outdoors.

What do you do?

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Traditional Sun style Taijiquan

This is an old clip of the late Sun Jianyun.

No flashy, overly stylised elaborate movements, no ridiculous kicks.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Before you start

The last time I visited and stayed with my late teacher John Kells in 2012 for four days of hard work he showed me a simple exercise.

He said his teacher Dr Chi showed it to him. Simply, before you start your Form or partner work, stand naturally and close your right hand gently around your left thumb. The fingers of the left hand rest naturally on the outside of the right fingers.

Just stand quietly like this for a few minutes, letting thoughts come and go, breathing naturally through the nose.

For me this exercise sets the scene for my practise.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Visualisation and Intention

I like this clip by the late Erle Montaigu, not least because it takes place in the confines of the kitchen.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Top 25 Tai Chi Blog

My blog has been selected as one of 25 top Tai chi Blogs by Feedpost. It comes in at number 18.

Follow the link to find out more and see some of the other blogs that made the list.

Feedpost - Tai chi Blogs

Monday, 1 January 2018

Sun Style

This is a great little film showcasing tradition Sun style Xingyi, Bagua and Taijiquan with Sun Jian Yun.

My own teacher was her direct student and the Taijiquan form and sword form are my main practises nowadays.