Tai Chi in Bridport




I was born in 1946 in Northampton, my mother’s family living just outside the town, but was raised in Chiswick where my father’s family came from. My playground was Chiswick House park. At the age of about 10 the family moved to Carshalton, much closer to my father’s work as head of medical physics at St Helier Hospital.

On leaving home I moved to Belgravia, a short stay at a low rent, fun times and many late nights. Then I moved to Queens Park, North West, London and finally with my wife Françoise, to Sheen in South West London, very close to Richmond Park (my new playground!). During all this time I was very active in sport including cricket, hockey, tennis and lots of running. I took part in the first London marathon.

We moved to Dorset about six years ago. London was becoming more crowded, polluted and I was tired of planes flying over my head every minute. Also by this time I had sold my business and I was bored, having been in central London residential property market for over 35 years.
We rented a house in Hazelbury Bryan for over two years while we were looking for a suitable home. During this time I played cricket for Sturminster Newton and did a small amount of teaching. Finally we found our perfect house in Littlewindsor.

I was given consent to teach Tai Chi in 2000 having studied since 1995 under the tuition of Paul Brewer who has taught for many years in south of London. I also attended seminars given by his teacher Dr Shen Honxgun (who regrettably died last year). Both these teachers have had a profound effect on my physical and mental capabilities.

Apart from my own class in London I also taught two age concern classes for local authorities. Tai Chi is beneficial for the elderly particularly regarding balance. They also enjoyed the martial aspect side of the art which I always found amusing.

There are several reasons why I started to learn Tai Chi. I had to give up hockey and running because of severe back problems (I still play cricket) and I thought that Tai Chi would (and has) keep me flexible and correct any postural problems that I may have. I was also interested by the fact that it is a martial art which might be useful when older and lastly it was something I could do with my wife.

I started teaching because I found that I enjoyed it (having done some teaching under supervision) and that the health benefits of Tai Chi should be made available to a wider public. Chinese medicine, acupuncture, tai chi and qigong have kept the Chinese people healthy for thousands of years.
Tai Chi was originally a martial art. Tai Chi can be said to mean without limits and Chuan, a word that often follows, means boxer.

When teaching the Tai Chi form, the martial applications are shown, taught and practised in a friendly environment. The martial side died down largely due to the introduction of the gun in China in the 1930’s. However the health benefits in the practice of Tai Chi were recognised as being of great importance. Tai Chi is also considered a form of moving meditation.
Qigong, which I also teach, is part of the same system - both having mutual benefit. Qigong has no martial element and involves moving or standing postures using body, mind and breath. The Tai Chi form (there are different styles/families but in the west, the Yang style is mostly taught) is a combination of connected movements showing applications but also involving the above three elements. Both also include shen (spirit) or an attitude of mind.

When I started learning, I was immediately told that Tai Chi is the study of Yin and Yang i.e. opposites that complement each other. Physically, one is taught to align the body correctly (correct posture) so that the muscles can relax; Particular emphases is placed on the spine. Correct posture improves balance. Exercises are also given to help open up joints and ligaments.

There is a spiritual aspect to Tai Chi but in most cases, it takes some time for this side of the practice to occur.

Tai Chi can change one’s life. For myself, it has kept me healthy, supple, allowing me to enjoy life to the full. Mentally, it has provided me with the capacity of dealing happily with the life changes and relationship with fellow mankind.

I am also fortunate that my wife was a practising nutritionist so that my diet is healthy and balanced.

I enjoy trekking though the opportunities are few in our busy lifestyle and obviously I am playing cricket.

In my view and experience, all sports would benefit from the practice of Tai Chi and that includes dancing. Tai Chi teaches one to move from the “middle/core” of the body and with power coming from the legs.

Martial arts movies are interesting. Some are valid (Bruce Lee) and some are nonsense. Having said that, I have seen some remarkable things done by my teachers.

I enjoy reading. My last book was an autobiography of Leonard Cohen. He studied Zen Buddhism over many years, eventually becoming a monk - an interesting and complex man. My greatest hero is Gandhi.

My favourite journey was in 1994. My wife and I trekked to the Annapurna sanctuary in Nepal where we were married by a Lama in full ceremonial costume; anyway, that is another story!

I have two abiding cricket memories. My first six being a hook shot when I was fourteen. The second, was watching Viv Richards at Lords (he had so much time to play his shots!)

Francoise & David - back view

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