Tai Chi classes in Camden town, London.
‘Stillness defeats motion and softness defeats hardness’
Two fundamental concepts of Tai Chi Chuan.
The art of Tai Chi Chuan has been handed down, through the efforts and dedication of masters ever since it’s creation by Chang San Feng hundreds of years ago. Being an expert in both martial arts skills and Taoist methods of self cultivation, Chang combined his knowledge, creating the art now know as Tai Chi Chuan.
When do our tai chi classes run?
Our open Tai chi classes run Mondays and Wednesdays from 6.30pm to 9pm. The classes are open sessions for all levels, with many beginners, intermediates and advanced students. Some students come from 6.30 and stay for the whole session, others arrive as and when they can and stay as long as they like.
What style of Tai Chi will i learn in your classes?
In the classes you will learn the Wudang style of Tai Chi. This is a famous system of Tai Chi which was standardised by Cheng Tin Hung in Hong Kong. Master Cheng was known as a very capable martial artist and competed successfully in full contact matches across Asia, as did many of his students. This led the Wudang school of Tai Chi to acquire the reputation of being the ‘practical’ school of Tai Chi, because the students were well known to be effective martial artists in the ring or on the street.
However please don’t think its only a fighting system. The Wudang syllabus is simply the most comprehensive system. This means it has all of the original training elements in tact. A lot of people enjoy training in this system without putting a lot of emphasis on the self defence elements, but if you do want to be confident in self defence, we will train you to be.
There are five elements that make up the whole Wudang Tai chi syllabus;
Each aspect cultivates specific skills, abilities or qualities within your practice. Some parts of the practice focus more on coordination, movement skill or technique, whilst other parts will wok more on the physical aspects of the body or the mind of the practitioner.
Who teaches the classes?
The principle instructor is Neil, who has practiced this system for more than 30 years. Neil has trained incredibly intensively and competed for many years at the international level successfully. He is also the first Tai Chi practitioner to compete successfully in professional MMA. Neil was initially trained by Dan Docherty, a top student of Cheng Tin Hung.
Neil’s approach is laid back yet highly focussed. Our emphasis is always on helping you to develop to your maximum potential. Tai Chi is a tremendous martial art and we want you to reap the most rewards from your training efforts.
How much do the classes cost?
Classes can be attended on a drop in basis for £20 per evening. Most students opt for the monthly rate of £100, which covers you for Monday and Wednesday evenings (20 taught hours per month).
Private tuition can also be arranged.
How many days a week do I need to attend to make progress?
To make progress regular practice is advised. You can improve quickly attending once per week as long as you do some ‘homework’. Tai Chi is an art that is extremely subtle and sophisticated, which means you should form a habit off regular solo practice to get the most from your art. A lot of drills, exercises and so on can be done on your own, which means when you come back to class you can easily progress further.
I would recommend a minimum of 3 days of tai chi practice a week to get any significant benefit. So that could be one class and two solo practice sessions for example. The ultimate is a daily schedule.
How effective is the self defence taught?
Tai Chi originally gained popularity in Beijing after yang Lu Chan achieved considerable fame as a fighter, becoming known as ‘invincible’ Yang. He was selected to teach the special forces of the day, the imperial guard. Since then, due to secrecy and other factors Tai Chi’s gentler aspects have tended to be passed on, leaving the martial aspects unexplored in most lineages.
Tai Chi Chuan quite literally translated to ‘Supreme Ultimate fist’. Practiced correctly there is no limit to how good you can get as a practical martial artist.
In this system of Tai Chi, we retain all the subtle, sophisticated and highly effective training methods of the original Tai Chi Chuan, and we often have students compete successfully in full contact competitions at national and international level.
Some of us in the group have competed in full contact competitions successfully, and some have also worked as bouncers. The Tai chi we practice has been extremely practical, efficient and effective in the ring and on the street.
There is nothing mysterious in real Tai Chi fighting, just highly evolved training methods and concepts that can make the practitioner very effective and skilful in a short period of time, provided the training is done. It won’t look much like the forms, which are simply to help develop high levels of coordination and technique.
Tai Chi Chuan cultivates natural, effective self defence skills. The methodology of Tai Chi Chuan follows the changes of stillness and motion and the effective use of softness and hardness.
The application of Tai Chi Chuan is entirely based on a thorough understanding of the Yin and Yang principles, both physically and psychologically. The Tai Chi Chuan practitioner seeks to overcome hardness with softness and to seek opportunity to apply effective technique at the opponents weakest point. These are subtle and refined martial skills, which require consistent training under an experienced master. We learn to out-wit an opponent rather than out-muscle them.
How long does it take to get fitness and health benefits with Tai Chi?
Tai chi has many different types of training methods and practices. Some of which are very physically challenging, whilst others will be more technically demanding or require you to develop your focus. Fitness benefits like improved cardiovascular function, strength and flexibility can come very quickly with regular practice. within just a few weeks you should notice significant improvements.
Tai Chi training can make you incredibly fit across all standard fitness parameters, as well as helping you to relax and reduce stress.
I’m a complete beginner, are your tai chi classes suitable?
Our open sessions are very beginner friendly, and you will learn and progress at your own pace. There is no rush! The Tai chi mindset is a very relaxed one so when you come to a class you will fit right in and simply begin to learn the art step by step.
From day one you will learn all the different elements of Tai Chi, such as the hand form, pushing hands and tai chi self defence. A lot of the senior students are excellent teachers in their own right and will spend a lot of time and energy helping others.
What kinds of people train in the classes?
In our Tai Chi classes we have a very diverse set of people from all walks of life. The age range is probably 20 to 50, with slightly more men than women (though sometimes the balance shifts). Most of our current students enjoy all the dynamic elements of training, as well as the more technical and contemplative ‘yin’ aspects of the art.
Do I need to stay for the entire session?
Our standard session is two and a half hours long, which we know is quite a lot for some people. Some people do leave early or arrive late, it’s entirely up to you. We have made the sessions that long because the art is so big in terms of syllabus there is a lot to practice and we want our students to learn the art to the best of their abilities.
Our Tai Chi will give you a tremendous whole body workout
Tai Chi Chuan strengthens the body. Regular practice strengthens the bones, muscles, tendons and sinews of the body. Its practice strengthens the functioning of the circulatory system, both centrally and peripherally, bringing vitality to all cells of the body. The lymphatic system is stimulated through the movement during practice and the deep diaphragmatic breathing used in practice. The nervous system is stimulated, to help improve functioning of all the major organs of the body, as well as improving the strength of the muscular system. Tai Chi Chuan not only prevents disease and illness, but is also an effective treatment for existing illness. Tai Chi Chuan nourishes vitality.
What you learn in class can be practiced anytime, anywhere
Tai Chi Chuan should be practiced regularly for best results. Training will enable you to refine the subtle skills of the art, learning to sublime levels of skill and ability, where mind and body act as one.
Tai Chi Chuan does not contain techniques at higher levels of achievement. Only the principle of Tai Chi is needed once we have transcended the fundamental training stages.
Tai Chi Chuan can be learned and practiced by anybody, with profound benefits coming from regular long term practice.
Tai chi principles come from philosophical Taoism
Tai Chi Chuan is a Taoist practice, which seeks to cultivate not only health and martial skill, but also the character of the practitioner. Fundamentally, in Taoist cultivation the practitioner seeks to develop personal tranquility, calming their Shen (spirit/mind). The second stage is to nurture Qi (energetic vitality). The third stage is to enhance Jing (primordial essence). Beyond this a sense of Unity with Heaven (spirit), Man (society) and Earth (nature) is advocated.
Some fundamental Tai Chi principles & concepts
In the Taoist I Ching: Book of Changes it is said that all change, creation and destruction in the universe and on earth is governed by the Great Polarity (Tai Chi). In turn the Tai Chi gives both to the two qualities, yin and yang. These produce the Four Secondary Trigrams which in turn give birth to the Eight Trigrams.
The state of No Polarity exists before the state of Tai Chi. This is the state of emptiness, before things and thoughts manifest.
Tai Chi is the principle before distinct manifestations of shape, form, sound or movement. It is the potential beyond these tangible qualities.
In the classical literature of Tai chi Chuan it is said ‘ Emerging from No Polarity, Tai Chi is the pivot of movement and stillness, the parent of Yin and Yang. Movement brings separation and stillness converges’.
The state of Tai Chi requires that stillness and motion, opening and closing are distinguished but not separate. Yin and Yang are always present.
The concept of Tai Chi governs the waxing and waning of sun and moon, the changing of the seasons and all the dynamic processes of existence. Heaven and Earth and everything within them are constantly changing, coming and going. The is the essence of the Tai Chi principle.
Tai Chi Chuan is the martial art created by Chang San Feng, who having a thorough understanding of the principles of Tai Chi, fused Taoist health and self cultivation with practical martial arts skills. All elements of the martial art of Tai Chi Chuan are governed by the principle of Tai Chi.
The focus of our Tai Chi classes
Tai Chi Chuan is an art of self improvement, self defence and a method of improving one’s overall vitality. In olden times the self defence aspects were far more important, particularly in the days when the art was mainly taught to the elite military personnel tasked with protecting the Manchu Royal Family.
Although the self defence elements are a crucial part of authentic Tai Chi Chuan training, it’s probably safe to say that in todays world the enemy most people encounter is illness and disease due to a physically sedentary yet psychologically high stress lifestyle.
Tai Chi Chuan is the perfect tool to combat this, with many ways of exercising the physical body and ways to achieve tranquility of mind. Practical self defence skills are of course always useful, even in todays relatively safe and civilised society. Increased self confidence and peace of mind are achieved.
How do I join a class?
To join one of our Tai Chi classes simply drop us a message using the form below, and let us know a little bit about yourself and when you’d like to come. We recommend just coming in for a drop in session initially so that you can make sure we are the right class and system for you.