What is Taiji?
Taiji is an exercise and training system for the body and mind, one that is presented in terms of a medical model, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the same one used in Acupuncture.
As a ‘physical movement form’ each posture flows into the next pattern without pause, ensuring that the entire body is in a constant motion, rhythm and process of transformation. This is ideal for developing suppleness and flexibility, being sure-footed and highly co-ordinated. It builds increased stamina and muscle strength.
Taiji also cultivates qualities of mindfulness and is often described as ‘meditation in motion’. It is practiced through a purposeful spirit with calm, clear intentions guiding the continuity of each movement in a focused way. People also report that Taiji promotes a certain serenity as it moves moment to moment, softly, slowly and smoothly, embodying a series of graceful expressions.
This gentle nature is married to more stimulating phases and invigorating techniques that develop over time. As fitness builds with regular practice the movements begin to refine, deepen and cultivate a greater degree of strength, in keeping with Taiji Chuan’s origins as a ‘Soft’ Martial Art. An earlier proto-form was known as ‘Cotton Boxing’.
The movements become ‘Taiji’ when grace and power work in unison, through a harmonised interplay of ‘forces’. This is because the actions represent the cyclic movements found in Nature…..yielding phases that gather in and root naturally lead to recoiling actions that spring forth, branching out and blossoming gestures that reach fruition in turn overflow and sink once again. These natural movements of Life are entirely resonant with the working of our own body-mind process.
There is a time, a place, a proportion to the whole form of movement. The patterns and order echo the procession of seasonal changes and processes. So at the heart of Taiji lies a natural rhythm, dance like, encouraging a continuous unfolding. Taiji is one continual movement.
That means the movements are never forced, there is no need to strain; the muscles are lengthened rather than tensed, the joints are opened rather than locked, and connective tissues are coiled through twisting rather than rigidly stretched out.
In concert these factors help create a deep massaging through the whole body to nourish and invigorate the vital substances.
The Taiji Classic texts say Taiji is practiced for longevity and its associated health benefits. I teach according to the principles of TCM where Chinese physicians might prescribe Qi Gong or Taiji as a special type of ‘exercise medicine’ to augment other traditional treatments such as Acupuncture and Herbs.
Taiji promotes a free flow of circulation, where the vital substances of Qi, Blood & Essence can distribute their rejuvenating properties through the entire network of organs, vessels and channels. An understanding which gives rise to the notion that Taiji is an ‘Internal’ martial art -with an emphasis on intention to ‘marshal’, guide and organise specific patterns of movement through the whole body.
Who can do it
Taiji is low impact and puts minimal stress on muscles and joints, making it generally safe for all ages and fitness levels. It may be especially suitable as an older adult who otherwise may not exercise. If in doubt consult your doctor beforehand for their recommendation.
What do i need
Taiji is inexpensive and requires no special equipment. You can practice anywhere, indoors or outside. You can do Taiji alone, in groups or practice in a class.
Wear loose, comfortable clothing that doesn’t restrict your range of motion and flat-soled flexible shoes/trainers.
Jeff Docherty is a professional member of the ‘Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine’
He is qualified and insured as an Acupuncturist, Shiatsu practitioner, Meditation teacher, Taiji-Qi Gong teacher.
Jeffs experience in Traditional Medicines began from his time living as a Yogi in Buddhist Monasteries in Sri Lanka and India, where he was introduced to Traditional Practice in the Tibetan enclave of McCleod Ganj, 1992. He was treated and inspired by renowned Buddhist monk, Traditional Medicine practitioner, and former personal physician to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Yeshi Dhonden.
On returning to the UK Jeff began studying TCM in the form of Qi Gong & Shiatsu with Chris Jarmey, well known author and teacher. Whilst continuing with Buddhist meditation retreats in the Theravadin and Tibetan traditions in the UK, and with further study to become an Acupuncturist.
Jeff learned Sun style Taiji from 1996 with Dave Martin, Head of European operations and honoured student of Sun Jian Yun, the Founders daughter.
Jeff was asked to teach Taiji by Dave after he retired from teaching classes at Cannon Park, Coventry.
Jeff began teaching Qi Gong & Taiji in 2003 and has since worked with NHS projects, Stroud and Gloucester Colleges, a Hospice, Mental Health groups, in ‘deprived areas’, supported housing and currently runs twelve weekly classes locally.
Jeff is currently planning to start teaching classes at Cheltenham Holistic Health Centre from Spring 2020. Please contact the centre directly on 01242 584140 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest.
UPDATE: A class will be starting on Tuesdays from 17th March 2020, 1.15-2.15pm. Cost £90 for a 10 week course. This will be a closed class to ensure everyone learns at the same rate.
Trial class will be running on 3rd March 2020, 1.15-2.15pm.