New Classes!

Ok, we are proud to announce 2 brand new beginners classes planned for the first half of this year!

Firstly, on 5th March 2018 we have a class in Hazel Court run by my Assistant Instructor, Betty McNiven. This runs from 1:30-2:30pm.

And next, we have a taster session in Pontardulais at the Kubotan Karate Club, Units 12&13
Pontarddulais Industrial Estate, Tyn-y-Bonau Road, Pontarddulais, Swansea, SA4 8SG which takes place on Wednesday 2nd May from 7-8pm

For more info please check out the classes page

You may also want to check out the FAQs and Other Stuff

Thanks for reading and hope to meet up with you soon...

Best,

Mike

PS If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to ask as I'm only too pleased to help if I can...

Contact Mike

How to regain the energy of your youth!

One of the many fascinating areas of study in the internal arts is that of Neidan or internal alchemy. It's usually known as Daoist meditation, so what's it all about?

Well, there are a number of different levels but just practicing the first level, called "Laying the Foundations" can be really beneficial to your health. It's also the most important level, so even if you never wish to go beyond that, you'll reap huge rewards health-wise.

Some of the benefits include:

  • Release of tension
  • Improved breathing patterns
  • Increased blood flow
  • More energy or 'zest' in your life
  • Due to the release of tension, less wear and tear on the joints
  • Activating your energy system and lower Dantien or lower energy centre

I'm guessing you can get an idea just from reading those bullet points but allow me to expand a little more..

Tension messes you up. It moves bones out of position, restricts breathing and interferes with blood flow and pressure to name just a few.

Neidan begins the process of softening the body, making it looser and allowing the bones that have been pulled out of alignment by tension, to move back where they should be, thereby relieving pressure, stress and strain on many different systems of the body.

Those systems include the musculoskeletal, circulatory, respiratory and lymphatic.

But it also begins to open up your energy system and begins to consolidate and transform the 3 treasures of essence, vitality and spirit.

This is the Daoist idea of returning to the source, where you regain the energy and vigour of your youth.

I'm not saying it's easy because it's not, but if you value your health and you're willing to put the work in the benefits are tremendous.

I originally learnt this stuff back in 1997, and practiced consistantly for many months but then lapsed. I can't remember why I stopped at the time but I do rememeber the huge difference I could make to my energy level just by taking 2 or 3 deep breaths.

It was like switching on the national grid and I felt like saying, "I'm about to light the blue touch paper, stand well back!" :)))

Since I've started the practice again, I can feel the benefits already after a few short months.

And another thing to bear in mind.

When I first engaged in these practices, I was very much of the "I Want It All Now" attitude. The harder I practice and the more I do, the quicker I'll gain the skills and results I want. Hmmm... not so...

20 years on, I'm a different person in many ways. And one of the things I've elarned it that this energy stuff takes patience and persistence to get results. More of the 'Softly, Softly" approach than my bull at a gate method of my youth. There's a big tip there ;-)

I'll share more of my experiences in later emails but if you're wondering how you can discover the way to 'return to the source', you can find out by clicking here

By the way, apologies for lack of emails but I've been somewhat selfish just lately, concentrating on looking after myself, although I'm still teaching around 18 classes a week to help others out.

And those classes are pretty much full apart from 1 or 2 taiji classes and the taiji boxing and martial arts class on Saturday morning.

If you've a mind to, you can take a cyber-stroll over to the classes page and see what's available there

And, don't forget your daily practice, whatever it may be. Just be aware that tension can easily cause imbalances in your structure so make sure your practice involves moving as many of your 600+ muscles as possible in a balanced workout

Got any questions on that?

Just hit reply, type out your concerns and I'll do my best to help

Ok, I'm outta here...

Best,
Mike

PS Class spaces are seriously at a premium at the moment, so it's best to hoof it over here to get in while you still can. Unless you're not really that bothered about the difference taiji and Daoist meditation can make to your health, in which case you can always hit the unsubscribe link below. No hard feelings if you do, we'll still be friends..

Otherwise, I'll see you soon...

10k is done and (nearly) all about your 3 bodies

It's done.

The 10k is over and money has been raised for Maggie's.

How much? At the moment it's £345, which I'm absolutely delighted with and I know Maggie's will be chuffed too, so a huge thank you to every single one of you who sponsored me for the event!

All I have to do now is gently rehab my right hamstring over the next couple of weeks until it's back to normal again. Yup, it started niggling just before I got halfway through the run but I just plodded on, jogging and walking, until I finished. Even walking and jogging I managed to complete the 6 mile route in around 1hr 23m ??s, so I'm quite pleased with that.

Anyway, today I wanted to talk a little about awareness, and specifically, awareness of your 3 bodies.

Three!

Well, yes, because in the Daoist view of things you have 3 bodies:

  • Physical body
  • Energy body
  • Consciousness body

Generally we're only ever in touch with our physical body ’cos it's the easiest one to feel. Saying that, many people don't even feel their physical body that well and have no idea what kinds of mischief it's getting up to while they're moving about.

S'true. In one class a few weeks ago we were working on rotating the weighted hip and a couple of people had to first get in touch with:

1. Where their hip actually was, and then
2. How to rotate the joint open and closed to feel the structural point in action and move the pelvis and centre.

Before they'd investigated this, rotating the weighted hip was just a concept. They were trying to do it in their heads or minds. And your hip joint isn't in your head, it's... well... it’s where your hip joint is...

But once they'd played around a little, all was good in the land of hip joints!

So it's good to feel the physical body.

But what about the energy body? Well, we need to able to feel that too. That's some work we started on in earnest at the Elite class last week and will continue to do so.

Because as we get older, it's very important to have a strong and vibrant energy body and the more aware of that energy body you are the more effective your work will be in strengthening and cultivating it.

And your health will benefit a huge amount from that, because you won't be able to rely so much on the physical body (although we like to keep that in good nick too!)

Ok, as well as your 3 bodies you have the 3 treasures. I've mentioned these before and here's how the treasures and bodies are linked in the Daoist view.

  • Consciousness body => Shen or Spirit => Yang
  • Energy body => Qi or Energy => communicates between yin and yang
  • Physical body => Jing or Essence => Yin

It's important to note that conditions in the physical body can affect the energy and consciousness body and conditions in the consciousness body can affect the energy and physical body. That also applies to conditions in the energy body. All three are connected, and what affects one can have an effect on the others.

And there's more..

Much more.

But you'll have to wait, ’cos I've run out of time for today.

Before I go though, there are some changes to the classes. The main thing being that many of the classes are now full. There are possibly a couple of beginners classes planned for the U3A next month but no more.

So if you want to join a class you'll preferably need to have some experience. You don't have to have experience. If you have a strong willingness to learn you'll be fine. If you don't, then the classes aren't for you, although you should bear in mind that most people start in an already established class, it's only people with the wrong mind set that don't progress or give up. Either that, or they don't really know what they're getting into when they start taijiquan. I know someone hasn't done their research when they ask if they need a mat ;-)

Still with me? Great.

Check out the new class page and the new guidelines if you're thinking of joining us here:

Classes
Guidelines
FAQs
All Levels Classes

Have a great week...

Later,
Mike
PS I've been busy doing more filming for the online training web site too and it's all coming along well.

Last week I filmed the warm up exercises and the 7 structural points and I'm editing them at the moment.

When it goes live you'll have access to those warm up and structural point videos, 4 daoyin forms and the taijiquan set but there'll also be more. For example:

Small Talk - is a section of the site where I give short video talks (between 3-10mins) about different subjects related to the arts, health and well-being
The Vault - will grow into a huge archive of articles and documentation and will become a fantastic resource for all your knowledge and background needs.

New stuff will be added every single month, so you'll always have new content to learn and study but I'll keep you updated on the progress...

I have the body of a God. Seriously...

I'm very fond of reminding Adele that I have the body of a god.

Unfortunately, it just so happens to be Buddha ;-)

But to help ease her suffering, I always offer to let her 'rub the Buddha's belly' for luck.

Her reply?

"If you think I'm walking that far down the garden, you can forget it!"

Which, I think, is a little bit harsh...

But fair.

You see, I've been a bit lax with the nutrition stuff lately, and I don't really have an excuse for slipping up, it's just me being lazy in that area. The last few months have been spent focussing on other things.

Life happens, right?

But with the new kitchen island and all, I've been adding to my toyz list.

And no, it's not from Screwfix this time!

My latest toy is an electronic pressure cooker, called an Instant Pot. Brill, it is. It can replace my slow cooker, steam my veggies, keep meals warm after cooking and, as a pressure cooker, cook them in a fraction of the time it takes my slow cooker but with the same 'fall off the bone' results.

And, it can cook rice, porridge, yoghurt an' all that kinda stuff. Nifty keen.

If you like Indian food, I also found a web site that does 'paleo' versions of many Indian favourites, including a gluten free naan bread. The site also has other non-paleo recipes you may be interested in. You can check out My Heart Beets here…

I also came across a fantastic demonstration of 'leading' as we do in the Cheng Hsin arts. Ralston has often used bullfighting to explain leading, and how we can move our partner/opponent somewhere to our advantage.

These 2 clips (same clip but from different angles) show how effective leading can be - even against a bull

Leading 1

Leading 2

Enjoy, and we'll catch up again soon.

Oh, and before I go, don't forget to tell your friends about the new classes starting soon in Sketty Park, Cwmbwrla and possibly Pontardulais

Later,

Mike

It's all connected...

While channel hopping the other night, I came across a couple of episodes of the Likely Lads, remember that?

With Rodney Bewes and James Bolam, it was set in Newcastle and followed the lives of Bob Ferris and Terry Collier. I really enjoyed watching the episodes but the only thing is that I can’t get the theme tune out of my head.

I keep humming it at odd moments here and there and getting on Adele’s nerves ;-)

Damn, I’m feeling all nostalgic now…

But honestly, I do seem to enjoy the older programmes more: Dad’s Army, Get Some In, Citizen Smith and the classic Fawlty Towers.

I don’t watch much telly but recently I’ve recorded a couple of the new programmes and thought they were excellent. Did you see Brief Encounters? All about the Ann Summers parties and set in the 80s? Brilliant! Good fun and the music was fab too (well, for me anyway)

And then there was New Blood, set in London following a couple of guys who become friends, one a copper the other working for the Serious Fraud Office. Those were 2 series that I was always looking forward to catching up on.

Ok. Back to business.

An interesting thing came up in conversation the other day. I was chatting with one of my students (and assistants) and we were discussing how some people (not you, obviously) have difficulty in making the connection between a specific practice and their general practice of movement. Here’s what I mean…

For example, I’ve been getting quite a few people in the classes to practice the structural points and/or principles in isolation from their taiji sets. getting them to create a feeling of that particular rule in their bodies. And they do. I know, ‘cos I can see them manifesting that rule as they move. But here’s the point…

After doing all that work on clarifying the rule and creating the feelings they then forget about it in the taiji set (or qigong, etc). It’s almost like it’s held as separate form the taiji set practice, when the whole point of doing the structural points in isolation was to get them to clarify what they were doing in order to integrate those structures into the sets.

Sometimes we don’t make a connection between one practice and another. But they are connected. Definitely. It’s good to notice this.

And that’s also something I’m working on getting you to notice more in the classes too

Talking about classes, there’s a U3A Open Day in October and there’ll be new beginners classes available if you or anyone you know is interested. There will definitely be a new class on Friday at 12pm in Hazel Court, Sketty Park and there are 2 more potential classes too. One on Monday afternoon at 2:30pm and the other on Tuesday morning at 10am.

The last 2 depend on how the class numbers go leading up to the Open Day and I’ll be advising anyone who’s on the taiji stand on the day, and the conveners, exactly what’s available.

For a current class list go here...

Best,

Mike