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
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
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!)
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