I Thought this may be helpful for our newer members.
A reminder of your first few lessons in lee Style Tai Chi form.
It will come as no surprise to you that as a practitioner of Tai Chi for the last 45 years I believe that Chi energy is a fact. However, that was not always the case. In my early days of training with Master Chee Soo I often thought the Chi energy exercises and demonstrations were pure fiction, illusion, accepted as truth by deluded students.
So what changed my mind?
Was it attending training Tai Chi days for quite some time and seeing Master Chee Soo occasionally demonstrate Chi energy in various ways, usually on one of his instructors? Nope, that certainly didn’t help convince me at all. Curious, I talked to a few of them and frankly got the impression that they were merely sycophants, willing to accept whatever they were told by the Master. One or two others however, seemed normal enough. These instructors had experienced Chee Soo’s demonstrations of this Chi energy first hand, and whilst their explanation seemed a little tongue in cheek at best I had to admit they did not come across as weird or puppets of the Master’s will. They seemed perfectly well adjusted people. Of course I was just a newby so would be unlikely to be chosen for a demonstration, and to be honest the thought of being on the receiving end of this mysterious energy was a little scary.
So what to do in search of the truth?
Some time later after a great training weekend I arrived home after a three hour drive, tired but content. I had learned a lot, and also seen yet another Chi energy exercise which left me yet again not convinced. I sat down to a welcome meal and then plonked myself in front of the TV for some light entertainment. My youngest daughter had other ideas and pestered me to play with her. My protest that I was tired and wanted to rest fell on deaf ears, all you parents will know this one, so eventually I gave in.
Then suddenly I had one of those moments that often arrive after you subject yourself to the inevitable. Why not try some of these Chi exercises with my daughter. She was only four years old and had no knowledge of what to expect.
At the end of this article is a short video of the exercise that convinced me that Chi energy was a reality. But please read the rest of the article first.
So it became a regular thing I would see and try some Chi energy exercise and then return home and try them with my daughter. She loved it. Dad was playing games with her and for me it was an eye opener that was to play a major part in my development and understanding of the art of Tai Chi. You see I realised my daughter had no preconceptions as to the outcome whilst I tended to form an opinion as I watched these demonstrations. Naturally I tried to analyse something new to me, something that I didn’t understand. I tended to look for a reference point in my internal computer i.e. my brain. If nothing came back from the memory bank I tended to disbelieve what I saw. My daughter however, just immersed herself in the game with no expectations but just enjoyed the experience. True Taoism is action. No wonder the Taoists talk so much about returning to the child’s mind, a little understood aspect of Taoism most people gloss over as its doesn’t fit well with their world view of themselves. For me this was a defining moment in my development of the arts. Over time I cultured a different attitude, instead of questioning whether a Chi demonstration or technique in some other part of the arts worked or not, I merely went away and practised it. I eventually came to be able to look and see, without peppering what I saw with my own thoughts. A quantum leap in development of the art followed.
Take a look at the exercise I shared with my students on one of my day courses. But first consider this - why should you become heavier because you point your fingers at the floor and imagine pushing them downwards? There is no logical explanation why you should become heavier, you weigh what you weigh.. The answer is you send you Chi downwards and it makes appear you heavy to your partner.
© Copyright 2018 Howard Gibbon – all rights reserved
Hi Howard, I’m enjoying reading all of the articles on your blog.
My question would be: What, in your opinion/experience is the most important thing a new student should do, in order to progress in the various Lee Arts ?
Respect/Regards, Nic Bravin - London
Great question Nic, thank you for that. Here is my opinion:
Over the last 45 years of practising and teaching the Lee Style Arts I have come to the conclusion that the most important thing for new students who wish to progress is to make time for practice outside the training hall.
This is easily said and I know from watching students that many find this difficult. But as an instructor it soon becomes apparent who practises at home and who doesn’t. Sports experts say that to become an expert in any discipline you need to practise for 10,000 hours. As a beginner this is perhaps a daunting thought. However, the Chinese saying of ‘A thousand mile journey starts with a single step’ holds true here, too.
If you allocate say 10 to 20 minutes a day for practise in whatever aspect of the arts you enjoy in the beginning that will kick in the habit after 30 days and practise will become a part of your day.
My favorite practise is the Tai Chi form but it can be anything, in my early days I was learning the art of Feng Shou Kung Fu and used to practise the Shou Pay Fah upstairs along the landing in an evening after work. Later when I also added Tai Chi I started practising the form and have stuck to that ever since supplementing various other parts of the arts now and then i.e. the sword and staff etc. In the summer I often practise for 45 to 90 minutes depending on what I choose to supplement my Tai Chi form practise with, usually 20 to 30 minutes. I much prefer practising outside when the weather allows and I am now fortunate that I can practise in the morning which sets me up for the day. Being a Gemini my brain is usually busy, we all have our problems, eh! My morning Tai Chi form practise calms and relaxes me, stretches and loosens my body, gets my energy moving. All this gives me an appreciation of just how lucky I am to be living in a wonderful country. Being alive and healthy and able to teach such a beautiful thing as the Lee Style arts to others. This is something I am very, very grateful for.
If you are a beginner, please continue, I have been given so many gifts from the practise of Tai Chi and our related arts. In times of difficulties Tai Chi training has always stood me in good stead. However, being consistent in my practise has not always been easy and there have been times when I lapsed a little but the benefits are too great to give up once you become accustomed to them to lapse for long.
So find time for your practise and enjoy the experience and soon you will find it is a part of your day that you cannot do without.
I wish you all I wish for myself
Watch the video to see Howard's thoughts.