Life in the Garden

The garden is starting to come out at my house. I have some lovely areas where I can practise my T’ai Chi. Be it on the gravel Zen garden or the patio, or even on the grass, there are many pretty things to look at and admire as I train.

Dark nights are back, join in the lightside!

Now that the dark nights are back, are you going to sit inside and wait for the light to reappear?  I have a suggestion, try out one of the Tai Chi classes, it might just keep you going winter with a little lightside!

My current light is the colour in my garden, the late amaryllis are out in full force and their bright pink colour really does come out on a grey day.

We are coming back….

Further to the last year or so’s sojourn, we are returning to classes in September 2021.

The last year and half, I have practiced with my usual students via Zoom a couple of times a week and in June I decided to see if we could return to face to face. The six weeks of sessions ran well and going on from that I am returning on 6th September 2021 at Woodlands Methodist UR Church in Harrogate. The class starts at 7.15 pm and will run for approximately a hour.

If you feel you need assistance in releasing the stresses of life then the class could help you. The meditative effect of the movement helps you mentally and physically which then gives you wellbeing in general. Students who come into class tired leave refreshed and re-energised.

I look forward to seeing you there!

So we all stay home

Due to the unprecedented pandemic, we are or SHOULD be staying home for the foreseeable future. My classes are very small and I want to assure you, provided I can resume in a central location, the classes will continue once this is over. In the meantime, The Taoist Arts Organisation to whom I am affiliated with has given guidance on whether online sessions can be used to help us over this time.

To join a session, you will need a key from me. I will contact you directly, each session is approximately 30 minutes long. We will be breathing, this is even more important now, and practising our Form.

See you all soon online.

Space, the final frontier

Where have we heard that before? My thoughts on space from a weekend of looking for space.

In karate we create space by measuring up, measuring up is the safety mechanism used in set techniques. Without the safety mechanism, practice would be a messy affair and the uniforms are usually white!

And so we move onto Tai Chi, space in taiji is not necessarily given to your partner so that safety can be practiced. It is more likely used to let your partner fall into. Space is what you are looking for when attempting to disrupt your partner, you know, where you want them to fall into. But is it?

Space is what we are all looking for, but where are we supposed to find it? Is it where the opponent is supposed to fall? Is it the gap between you and your opponent? What is space for?

You need space for your ‘C’ shape, to make your shape you need to bring space inside. Inside what? Firstly inside your body by breathing in, the air fills the space inside, then the mechanical takes over so that you tuck under, so that once the chin is then in place you have your spinal C. So space created by filling yourself with air then needs to be kept In whilst relaxing in your chest, this keeps your back expanded and rounds the shoulders for your other C dimension.

Space in our joints. Getting space into the joints by elongating through the ligaments and moving the muscles above and below the joint. Once the space is in the joint that helps you move more smoothly if in the hips, or takes the weight if in the upper joints to allow correct position for producing the behind the pressure idiom.

The idea of space is not often thought about as you learn the set movements of your tai chi, however, once the concept has been explained a little, movement can be improved.

Is 2020 Your Year for T’ai Chi Chuan?

Harrogate’s Taoist Arts Organisation classes restart for the Winter Term in 2020 on Monday 6th January 2020 with the beginners class.  If you have never tried T’ai Chi before then this is the class for you.  20180618_192323740_iOS

Alison welcomes everyone to the class with a friendly smile and hopes that you will enjoy your journey with her.

We start at 7.15 pm with students arriving a little before hand to get any admin work done. The class starts with a very gentle warm up to manipulate the joints, release the muscles and ligaments a little. There are partner exercises to attempt, followed by learning how to do the Lee Style Form, then finishing with a breathing exercise.

We train in the small hall at Woodlands Methodist Church and I look forward to meeting you there.

Realisation, about starting martial arts in adulthood.

This week started on a bit of sad note, one of my students decided that there was not enough time to find for my sessions, this happens, everyone has a busy life and not everyone can fit everything in. They thought they were not giving themselves enough time to practice at home so therefore thought they should stop altogether.

This realisation probably hit them after they had missed the week before and when they realised it was class again and they had not found the time to practice at all whilst not attending.

Starting Martial Arts in adulthood is a fabulous thing to do, but being able to stick at it is not always feasible unless you let yourself do it. Every man and his dog wants their little piece of you, and to be honest, learning a martial art is a very personal thing. You cannot just think, right, I am going to learn how to defend myself, this is not martial arts, or think, right I am going to use this to get fitter, this is not martial arts, or even that looks so good, perhaps I can do it? That is not martial arts!

Martial Arts is a union of mind and body in meditation, to be able to allow the body to move whilst the effort being put in is tempered to the scenario. When I am practising my arts, I am not thinking about dinner, I am not thinking about what I will be doing tomorrow or what I did yesterday, I am thinking about what my next movement may be. If I have practiced enough I sometimes do not necessarily think the next move through but just do.

Those people who know me, have seen me in some very loud situations and some very quiet ones, I strive to make both as meditative as I can for myself. Training in Martial Arts is one of the few things you can do individually as a group. If you Can get your head around that, it can open doors for you to think differently. The enjoyment from a noisy class is different to that of a quiet one. The energy made by the people and noise around you can buoy you along in the noisiest of classes. The quiet class, the energy you produce pushes you along the path in a simple manner and only affects yourself. Both options have their merits, which is why children enjoy those noisy classes.

Being kind to yourself in everything you do, helps you become more rounded, and trying to fit things around your life, even though can be problematical, should be practiced as their benefits will out way any negativity felt.

Autumn Tai Chi Starting Soon

Harrogate’s Taoist Arts Organisation classes restart for Autumn on Monday 3rd September 2018 with the beginners class.  If you have never tried T’ai Chi before then this is the class for you.  20180618_192323740_iOS

Alison welcomes everyone to the class with a friendly smile and hopes that you will enjoy your journey with her.

We start at 7.15 pm with students arriving a little before hand to get any admin work done.


We train in the small hall at Woodlands Methodist Church and I look forward to meeting you there.

New concept – Control

Why is this a new concept? To some people it’s all they know, to others it’s alien. Today, I spent the day attempting control with my Tai Chi friends. I think it was initially called three star principle, and even though I was unsure what it was about, it was explained.

The main function of the initial exercise was to use the principles taught to block an attack (in this case a head punch). Some people were taught how they should be punching, some people were taught how to keep their hands up to protect themselves. I had to learn to be less square on when in an initial guard position. It seems I can punch if nothing else.

I had some success with the ward off, and then trying to off balance your opponent. The next step is then to take the control and strike. This in itself is not too difficult a concept, however, the next step is then to continue with the strikes, adding so there were 4 or 5, this was hard for me to connect with.

Any previous training I’ve had has not included a control which you had to keep, if any control at all. My initial efforts were rather dismal, if I got the control and say one strike I had not particular idea where to put the next. It’s not instinctive to me. Even with a compliant partner I was unable to grasp the concept.

Errors were

Pre-empting the strike with the ward off. Remedy : Close your eyes until I tell you when to open them. Forcing me to deal with something, either flusters you or you do get it right. I do seem to need the extra assistance in seeing what I am doing (usually incorrectly), to be then shown the way to do it.

I tend to block myself with my own perception of what I think I can do and what the instructor wants me to do. This is something I am trying to undo, being blocked in internal arts is not the correct way to be, you need to be open to everything as well as open in everything. One day, I will be able to explain this.

T’ai Chi Anyone?

Since retiring from Karate, I have been able to spend some more time doing my other hobby, T’ai Chi.  The movement is fabulous when you get it right, and even though it causes me a lot of consternation, I am going to keep at it.

My class only runs once a week, and I usually top it up with weekends away a couple of times a year.  So far I have managed to get to the Easter Weekend, the Wetherby Weekend, I have just booked for the Summer Week, and I know I will be attending the Weapons Weekend later on in the year.

My current T’ai Chi Teacher, knowing my background has asked me to start to teach a beginners class. To that end, I have attended the British Council of Chinese Martial Arts Coaching Course, passing their Level 2 (rather pleased, felt a little intimidated by the training to be honest, but he is a nice bloke :))  I have been accepted for Insurance purposes by my organisation, and I have a hall lined up!

The first Date will be 14th May 2018, anyone interested in having a go, please do stop by, it will be an exclusive affair as the hall is small, so I will only have around 10 students. The venue is Woodlands Methodist Church, Wetherby Road, Harrogate, HG2 7SG and we wil be starting at 7.15 pm.