13 January 2021

Invitations to Mark's online Short form Class

I will send these out over the weekend as I am still collating the names of those who would like to come along. Everyone is welcome, especially students of students of either of us, and those who want to revise Short Form that maybe has disappeared into a dim corner of memory... Get in touch. 

Also today's Short Form class with me via Zoom is now uploaded to the Dropbox.

12 January 2021

Good things

Thanks to all who came to the first Left Side class last night. That was fun.

Emails will go out this afternoon with invitations to: 1 - the regular Long Form class with Mark on Thursday evenings, 2 - the regular Short Form Wednesday morning class with me, and 3 - the first of the Short Form in depth with Mark fortnightly sessions. These will begin next Monday 18th Jan, and then alternate with the Left Side classes. They were requested by Christina in Sweden as she teaches students in Gothenburg. All those who have done some T'ai Chi before or who would like to revise their Short Form, or deepen it for the benefit of their students, are welcome, Email me to opt in to the fortnightly Zoom invitation emails.

A complete beginners video course with me for new students anywhere in the world is in the pipeline. I should start filming this weekend. Also, a full redesign of the neglected GRTC website is well overdue, so I shall be chained to this laptop for January. However, necessary lockdown in the UK, and probably everywhere else, is causing havoc for people's mental and physical wellbeing. Though I am sure the intricacies of T'ai Chi cannot be taught without touch, indeed, it is at root a martial art, there are many benefits to be shared that can be conveyed with words and video, when it is done with care and heart. That's what I intend to do. More soon, and I will post a link when it is available, so you can share it with any 'non-taichi' friends!

Have a great week. And here is a lovely picture from sunnier days, which I had forgotten to post here of the Aberdeenshire crew.

10 January 2021

Left Side class via Zoom starts tomorrow

At 7.30pm on Monday 11th January 2021 Mark will start teaching the left Side classes fortnightly online. If you have studied left side with him before, or with me, Verne or John Kells, then you are welcome to come along, get in touch with me for the link. We won't be starting at the beginning, but jumping in where the Aberdeenshire crew have got to, as this class was at their request. A corrected version of the posture list, slightly different from the one on Mark's website, will be emailed to you shortly. However, as we'll be practising the whole form each week, don't worry if you feel a bit rusty, it will come back! Also, the words of the Heart Sutra are appropriate here:

'No attainment, and nothing to attain.'

See you tomorrow.

07 January 2021

Thursday class with Mark starts at 7.30pm

 Reminder: tonight's class is at 7.30pm-9pm, as listed on the blog last week.

I can't join tonight as I have a meeting, but Mark will be there!

06 January 2021

Books for an introduction to Taosim

A Short Form student asked a great question last month as to whether I could recommend any books or other resources that I felt were a good introduction to Taoism. At first I thought, 'that's easy'. But the more I look through what I have, the harder it is. By definition, 'The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao'. My feeling after over twenty years on this path is that only by doing and non-doing do we 'know' Tao, and that the Taoist arts are the main practices in which to know Tao, (for instance T'ai Chi, certain forms of poetry, calligraphy, ikebana, butoh, some kinds of improvisational music, etc). Anyone with 10 years sincere practice yielding to real pushes in pushing hands will know more in their bones of Tao than someone who has spent 10 years studying books. That said, here's a few books I like, I will add more this week as some are hidden in the shed and must be re-found. Most Taoist writings I love are very old, or by Liu-I-Ming from 17C, translated into English from the original Chinese by Thomas Cleary and only 'make any sense' after you already know in your body what they mean! If you have books or online resources you would like to recommend, please leave a comment or get in touch. 

All the Thomas Cleary translations of Taoist Classics texts for Shambala Editions: especially the Tao Te Ching, Chuang Tzu and as a great general intro to Taoism, the introduction the 'The Taoist I Ching' is perfect. 

Lieh Tzu translated by Wong, Shambala Editions.

I seem to remember Al Chung-Liang Huang's book 'Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain' on Tao and T'ai Chi being very approachable and good. It was the first book on T'ai Chi I read, given to me by my second T'ai Chi teacher in 1988. It left an impression, though I have not had a copy for over 25 yrs.

Penguin edition of Chuang Tzu is very good.

'Daoism Explained' by Hans Georg Moeller is great, just in no way a beginner's book, but it is full of insights and avoids the usual inappropriate western theocentric definitions of 'Heaven' amongst other important concepts. It also shears the superimposition of early 20th century Euro-centric psychoanalytic terminology onto the famous Chuang Tzu butterfly tale, and the chapter about this is worth the entry price alone.  

The books of Ursula K LeGuin contain superb rethinkings of worlds with Tao as a living major component of her imagined civilisations, especially: 'Always Coming Home', 'The Word for World is Forest', and 'The Telling', most of all. Sadly, LeGuin's own version of the Tao Te Ching is best avoided. Her deep understanding of Tao is best found in her fiction.

For a real beginner's beginners guide then the famous 'Tao of Pooh' and 'Te of Piglet' by Benjamin Hoff are actually really lovely. Funny, surprisingly deep, and nicely concise, these are worth a read, and fun to pass on to others who are wondering what you have been up to for two decades...

05 January 2021

Karen's beautiful music

Most of you will know our T'ai Chi friend and fellow boat dweller Karen Grace, but you may not know her wonderful music. She has asked me to share this with the blog readers here. Karen is singing and playing guitar on this song, and Mark features on banjo! Enjoy.

News re classes during lockdown in England

After the England Covid rules were changed last night, and Mark had thoroughly read the govt guidelines, I spoke to Mark about his classes until the end of this new lockdown. Sadly, there will be no classes in Tooting at Trinity Hall until this phase of lockdown ends. 

Online classes resume this week, details are on the previous post. There will not be a replacement Long Form class on Tuesdays, as the Long Form Zoom class on Thursdays is intended to do this. 

A 1 hr Warm ups, chi kung, salutations and Short Form class runs each Wednesday morning with me, live and available recorded.

Left side and Marks's new in depth Short Form Zoom classes will alternate, and begin next week or the week after on Mondays. I am awaiting dates.  

Contact me if you would like the links to these. 

Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons and evenings, as well as various times in the rest of the week, are free for your 121 and small group Skype lessons with Mark. He encourages you to get together with fellow students from your classes and book a session with him, or to have a 121 when you want, so that your study can continue. I am hoping Mark will film the Left Side soon. We were about to organise a date to do this when the announcement of new lockdown came... more soon. 

On a personal note, I am lucky that a few months before Covid struck UK, I had already been offered long term work, just an hour a day of online work for an excellent nature organisation. This simple life change has meant that along with teaching taichi weekly by Zoom, and being paid for my art and other teaching, that despite all my workshops in UK, Ireland and Sweden being cancelled, I have been able to stay afloat (literally) during incredibly difficult times for both Mark and myself. 

We greatly appreciate the financial contributions for the study aids we have produced and will continue to produce for you. Mark has now lost all his in-person teaching work for what will probably end up being an entire year. I know that Zoom and Skype lessons are far from perfect, compared to the joy of being with others in a room, and pushing hands. However, if you are able to book sessions with Mark, and find them useful for your study, please do so. If T'ai Chi has helped you during difficult times as much as it has me, then know that booking screen sessions with Mark at this time really does help him stay afloat, in turn. My main concerns are making sure our teacher can continue teaching in the future, and can continue to do so in the present strange times. Also, that you can continue your T'ai Chi practice and study, at whatever level, and that it may nourish and sustain you. As always, do get in touch if you have any ideas or queries.

Best wishes to you all. Caro. 

04 January 2021

Invites have been sent by email

 Class invites for both Mark's and my classes just went out by email and Whatsapp. Let me know of yours did not arrive, or if you want to join the Thursday evening Long Form class with Mark or the Wednesday morning Short Form Class with me. Cheers!

03 January 2021

Classes online resume this week

Just a quick note to say classes with both Mark and myself resume this week online, though in-person classes are still prohibited. I will send out the class invites to those who subscribe by email (and Whatsapp) tomorrow, let me know if you don't get it by Tuesday.

Short Form Zoom class with me each Wednesday 9-10am (also available recorded)

Long Form Zoom class with Mark each Thursday 7.30-9pm

In a week or so's time, Mark will start the Left Side class on a Monday evening 7-8.30pm fortnightly, alternating with a requested Short Form (from the very beginning with applications and full details) class, suitable for all who would like to deepen their knowledge of the form, or who already teach or intend to instruct. I will have a date for these soon. I will ask him to record them, but there is no guarantee! I will send the invitations out to those who have requested them, get in touch to be added to either or both lists. 

Skype 121s are available with Mark all term, starting this week, just call or text him to book. 

Much love to you all. I have been hibernating and craftcrastinating. I highly recommend it! Admin is slowly resuming...

31 December 2020

Happy Hogmanay / New Year's Eve!

The very warmest greetings to all who may read this from myself and Mark, for a peaceful winter and healthy New Year. 

I have been taking time offline and will return in couple of days, before classes resume next week. I will be arranging filming of the Left Side Form with Mark, as requested by several of you. As son as I have more news I will post it. Love to you from the river.

Geoff and Molly Hinkleponkle are taking it easy.

13 December 2020

Taiji People: William C C Chen

This just in from our great friend, T'ai Chi Master Sam Masich. He has been editing film he has shot over many years and has produced 3 episodes of  'Taiji People'. Have a look below and find the others on Youtube too.

'In this, the third episode of Taiji People, I visit world renowned taijiquan grandmaster William C. C. Chen in his Manhattan studio. A disciple of Zheng Manqing (Cheng Man Ch'ing), William Chen has devoted his life to making the practice and teaching of the art enjoyable and practical.'


For the first year since 2006 there will be no calendars printed for The T'ai Chi Centre and Great River T'ai Chi, for obvious reasons. Over the next weeks I will post here the few lovely and now rather poignant pics I have from this year, and if you have any you would like me to have from your meet ups or practice, then do send them along. For those of you who would like to make your own calendars, these ones below were made on Vistaprint. For the wall size ones I have used both Vistaprint and Photobox over the years. I have always been happy with the outcomes, and the prices have been reasonable too.  

Wednesday morning Short Form Zoom class

The last class of term is this week on 16th December and the first class of next year's term will be on Weds 6th Jan 2021. 9-10am, £5. All who have done some Short Form are welcome. We record these classes and upload them to Dropbox if you can't study at the time class is live. We do warm ups, chi kung, Heartwork and Short Form. We are currently looking at Needles at the Sea Bottom. Get in touch to receive the weekly link.

Apologies for no class last week. I was unwell and had an appointment. Luckily, there are many recorded classes for you to do when I am not there, including a special one with all the syllabus, and very little talking by me at all!

Last classes of term, Jan start dates and Left Side news

This week in London the last in-person class is Tuesday night at Trinity Church Hall, 7-9pm, please join us for socially distanced T'ai Chi. This class will resume, restrictions allowing, on Tuesday 5th January 2021. Hand gel is available, masks may be worn, and there is no partner work at the present. We are looking at many aspects of Long Form, Heart Work and taking questions. Class costs £15.

The last Zoom Long Form class of term is on Thursday 17th December, 7.30-9pm, all students of mine or Marks' who have finished Short Form are welcome. Contact me to be added to the email list to receive the link each week. This online class will resume on 7th January 2021. We have not been recording these classes so far. Class costs £10.

Skype or Zoom 121s with Mark are always available, just get in touch with him directly.

There have been lots of requests for a Left Side Long Form class by Zoom, especially while Mark can't get to teach in Scotland. I am happy to say that Mark will start teaching this in the New Year, exact date tbc, but probably Mondays, and from about 11th Jan. Suggested time is 7.30-9pm, cost £10. In the meantime folks have asked us to film him doing that form, so I will get that done over the break, as well as The Dance films folks have asked for. We will probably make sure we record these classes as there are no LS resources, unlike Long Form. If you would like to be added to the email list to receive the weekly invite for this class, then drop me an email with 'Left Side list' in the heading, which will make my admin much easier! 

I am really looking forward to this, and will be assisting Mark in classes, so you will be able to ask application questions and see details. If you have finished the Long Form, and have perhaps done some of The Dance, then get in touch to see if studying Left Side is for you. John Kells created this mirror form as a home for variations of postures, special techniques and research possibilities. As far as we know, Mark is the only person still teaching this.