If you're going to invest your time into the study of something as profound as Taijiquan or Neigong then you need to make sure what your learning has depth, otherwise you'll reach a ceiling very quickly. This class is not just another "relaxing Tai Chi class", it can be hard work and challenging at times, but also fun. It has a real friendly atmosphere and is made up of beginners and intermediate students, so you'll be more than welcome. You can just turn up on the day and pay as you train, I'd rather keep it flexible for students rather than a monthly payment up front. Taijiquan is from 7pm - 8.30pm and is £6, and Neigong is from 8.30pm - 9.30pm and is £5. You can train in only one discipline if you wish or like most of my class study both as they have many cross-over principles, in which case you'll be studying from 7pm - 9.30pm for £8 with a short break in between.
If you're thinking about coming along one night, ideally drop me a line on the contact page to let me know in advance or come along a little earlier so we can have a quick chat first.
A typical class lesson may start with warming up and stretching exercises and sometimes some conditioning exercises. 'Tai Chi' and 'Qi Gong' classes have a reputation for being soft and gentle with no challenging exercises, but this is only partly true. Indeed from the outside the movements are soft but to develop internal change which is the objective of these arts we have to carefully work through certain exercises if we want to progress deeper. These exercises can be challenging at times but we always start with the physical body, it’s our vehicle for life, only then can we begin to work with more subtle internal principles.
Unless a beginner wants to study Nei Gong specifically, they will start with gentle Qi Gong exercises. Over a couple of lessons they can gain a better understanding of what Nei Gong entails and decide if they want to stay with these gentle Qi Gong exercises or move to something deeper and more challenging in which case they may start the Nei Gong training. The class is divided up accordingly.
One group will consist of all beginners plus anyone who has no interest in following the deeper path of Nei Gong, this group will focus on gentle Qi Gong exercises.
The second group is for everyone else following the Nei Gong process of transformation, this will include more challenging exercises.
During Nei Gong work, we may for example start with a Wuji standing posture to align and relax the body through Sung (letting go). Bad posture compresses the joints and closes the energy gates, combine this with mental tension or stress and the Qi (life force) will not flow as it should, causing stagnation which can lead to physical illness over time.
We may then study something from the syllabus, such as Wu Xing Qi Gong exercises tailoring them to the level of the student. When I feel everyone has understood that particular exercise for their level, I will introduce something else in the coming weeks, then over the months we will revisit that particular exercise.
Also it's important to study the theory of the art as well as the practice, I've witnessed students start by just 'dipping their toe in' then over time becoming fascinated by the Daoist Arts (On the news page is a list of recommend reading).
Nei Gong can carry a very slight risk to some people due to the energetic changes that take place and so to be over cautious I don't teach the following people.
1. Under 18 years of age: There's a lot of emotional development going on during childhood and teenage years and we don't want to cause the natural development to be hindered in any way.
2. Pregnant women. Again there is a great deal of change going on in a women's body and we don't want to alter any natural development taking place at this time.
3. A history of a serious mental illness: Working with the mind in Neigong may have a detrimental effect on someone who has any serious mental illness.
When we practise the form the class is divided up depending on what stage students are in the sequence, I will then walk around to check and add another posture, usually we'll start and finish the class with me leading the whole form and everyone has a go.
On other occasions we will do partner work and at other times Ji Ben Gong, or fundamental exercises which are constantly repeated to gain insight into that movement and allow us to put the principles into everything we do in Taijiquan. If the Taijiquan form is a car the principles are the engine, without which it is not a car, so we have to build the engine and the internal mechanics, no matter what style you practice it should have internal principles within it.
Over time we transform the body from the inside out, so we become soft, relaxed, connected and strong (not through muscles). Unfortunately not all 'Tai Chi' practiced today develops this aspect and are therefore empty, superficial and devoid of any real transformational value. So, if we don’t transform the body internally but only focus on the external movements then we’ll build a soft and relaxed but ultimately weak body with no internal connection, even if we practice for many years we’ll still be weak. In my opinion a relaxed and strong body is true to the authentic tradition of Taijiquan after all it was a martial art and why would anyone choose to be weak of mind and body?
Below is the current Cardiff Syllabus.
Taijiquan Short Form
Taijiquan Long Form
QI GONG & DAO YINS
Ji Ben Qi Gong (Fundamental Qi Gong)
Wu Dao Yin (Five leading and Guiding exercises)
Wu Xing Qi Gong (Five Element Qi Gong)
Dragon Dao Yin ((Four exercises working with the spine)
Toui Shou (Pushing Hands)
Combination flow drills
Quan Fa (Martial methods of Taiji Quan)
Chan Si Jing (Silk Reeling)
Fa Li Jin (Manifesting power)
Stretching and conditioning exercises
Zhan Zhuang (Standing Postures)
Sung Tu Na (Breathing exercises)
FOR EXTRA TRAINING SESSIONS OR CLASS CLOSURES
See the 'Lotus Nei Gong Cardiff' Facebook page for details
Main image: practising a Taijiquan flow drill. Top left & right: Practising the form in class. Bottom left: Standing in Wuji. Bottom right; Practising the form.