30 March 2020

Good things come...

Yesterday I posted some more simple Chi Kung instructions on the Great River Instagram, including Standing Pole, Zhan Zhuang, suitable even for those who have never done T'ai Chi or Chi Kung.

Also from today, Mark is offering personalised study aids / lessons to any regular student who would like one. The idea came from some inspired teaching from a dear friend's guitar teacher, now he can't go to students' houses, or have them come to him. First of all email, text or call me, or call Mark directly, to arrange a time to speak on the phone with Mark about your practice and what you are working on. For many who only had a 121 very recently, this will carry on from the last session. After the call, Mark will record a short video lesson, maybe 20 mins or so, on my phone, which gives good quality and file sizes. I can then email the link to you for a private Dropbox folder. When you have worked on it, or have any questions, you can have another phone call with Mark to clarify or expand on things. So a 'lesson' is a couple of calls and a bespoke video. If you would like to give it a go, get in touch. The price is a sliding scale, by personal arrangement, so that everyone who wants to do this, can do so.

I am still attempting to sort Zoom lessons for Short Form, but have needed a rest this last two days, after 3 weeks non-stop.

More soon, I do hope you are well and safe. If there is anything i can do to help, just ask.

28 March 2020

Long Form videos now available in smaller file size

Thanks to Colin, the three biggest old video camera files we have, of Mark doing Long Form, are now available in smaller file sizes so your downloads don't take forever. They are labelled Long Form ... smaller file size.

I hope to record a new film of the Long Form during this period. Today hopefully we will record some Front heart clips.

If anyone has specific study needs or requests, please get in touch. Small sections of things, or something in detail, is doable, as are whole form demos. Someone asked for all the applications of the Short Form. That is a very nice idea, but unlikely to happen right now as it would take an entire day and need a separate camera person, as I would be needed as the partner. However, it is a great idea for a workshop, and perhaps we could arrange filming then. 

Sending love and best wishes to all The T'ai Chi Centre and great River students past and present. Get in touch any time. Be well.

27 March 2020

One posture video now on Dropbox

For regular students, there's a new video uploaded today of Mark teaching the One Posture at last year's Summer Intensive. Thanks to Maria for sending that. If anyone else has videos they took over the last few years, and you don't see them in the Dropbox, then that means we don't have them. Please send them to me, and I will label and post them for everyone's use. Sift your hard drives and old phones, see what's lurking...

Tomorrow we will also have compressed smaller files of the Long Form videos, thanks to Colin.

Five Elements Chi Kung

Just had an email from a London student who is missing their daily swim and cycle. 5 Elements has really helped, they said. There is a clip of it in the Dropbox. If you are a Lido student and have a more recent clip of me doing this, please email or send it to me, as it would be nice to post it on here and on www.instagram.com/greatrivertaichi

A good place to do the Chi Kung, windows or doors open, a bit of air and light.
Be well, all, more soon. 

New Back Heart Salutations videos from Mark

Yesterday we recorded 3 new clips for you of the back Heart Salutation. You'll find them in the Dropbox. If you can't see them, then you have the wrong link, just email me for the up to date one. The first clip describes some background, the second has a narration while doing the movement, the third is 4 times through the postures, without narration. We filmed in the T'ai Chi studio here, and we'll be doing a few more over the coming days.

Once Mark has got used to this set up, we'll attempt to get lessons happening too. Enjoy the clips, even if you know the Heartwork really well, have a look, the intro alone will make you smile...

25 March 2020

Contact me for newest Dropbox link

Dear Friends, some of you only still have the original Dropbox link, which if you go to it shows files in folders within the main T'ai Chi folder. If this is so, get in touch and get the newest link, now that all the files are separate, to prevent download problems. Rather than send everybody yet another email, I will save your inboxes and say, just email me.

We are filming some bits with Mark tonight, and i am just about to record the sounds mediation for the Instagram.

Best wishes to all. Be well. Caro

Big box of goodies - updated

Dear friends, that's everything uploaded and up to date of every single half-decent video Mark or I have shot these last 15 years. One or two files are ancient and a bit big, check the file sizes of the longer films, Sorry about this, I don't have the time or tech know-how to make them smaller right now. However, there is much to enjoy and use. Colin is making some big files smaller for us and I will put them up soon.

This week I shall attempt to film Mark doing Heartwork in the beautiful sunshine, as he wanted newer versions for you all. By next week I should have Zoom lessons sorted for Mark, and also maybe me doing the Short Form 1 hr session I normally teach in Tooting. These will be recorded so folks can do them at a convenient time. I do not yet know where these will be placed, probably the Dropbox.

I will also be uploading the next Chi Kung to www.instagram.com/greatrivertaichi and feel free to pass it on to friends, elderly relatives, and those convalescing. I am posting everyday, as a community service and as a practice for myself. After I have uploaded all the Chi Kung I practice, I will start with the warm up set, one move each day. It will also feature some meditations, as Tooting students have asked for some of what we have been doing there. These will always be accessible via Instagram, and you do not need an account to see them, just the web address above. I will leave this up indefinitely.

Please email me requests for any particular resources, such as a certain posture, or something shot mirror image, or whatever. Also, if you do not have the latest Dropbox link yet, get in touch, as I won't be posting it online, as it is for our schools members' use only. The new link gives access to all the files, in one big Taichi folder, with no sub folders, as these were causing download problems. But I have labelled things as clearly as I can, so you can peruse the over coffee, or jasmine tea.

Right, gotta go water the seeds in the food garden. More soon. Stay well my dears and do get in touch any time. Mark sends his best and is so happy to hear all the stories of practice, Zoom connecting-hands and old students getting in touch.

This is the oldest picture I have of me doing T'ai Chi, it's 1987 or 1988 at Newbold House in Forres, Moray. Third from left in red top and black trousers, permed hair! Half-decent posture, at least. That's Kajedo in the glowing white trews, with whom I learned Chi Kung and had my first ever go at meditation. Feeling immense gratitude for all my teachers today. 

23 March 2020

Mark's T'ai Chi teaching aid videos uploading right now

Hi all, we hope you are well and enjoying the fine weather if you are having it. Here, Mark has just checked through every video I have of him, and I am uploading them right now to the Dropbox, having renamed them all consistently. If you find that you have videos are are not in the Dropbox, please let me know, and send them along to me. Perhaps you filmed something once on your phone. Now would be a great time to help me collate everything. Mark is less happy with the Heartwork videos, so from tomorrow these will be the first that we re-film. He says his T'ai Chi has improved since he first did the Salutations. I shall upload the new films as we make them and post news here as soon as they go up.

Karen is hopefully lending me a stand for my phone tomorrow so I can film all the daily Chi Kung bits I have planned, but in the meantime I will go ahead with just putting my phone on a shelf and winging it method that works so well... Mark has also said for you to get in touch with me with specific request for any films, and we will try to make them for you over the coming week. We are doing a bit every day, rather than try to do everything, including teaching online, all at once. Th enew films of Heartwork will be made and uploaded some time this week. The principles of non-doing and not using force apply just as well to our dealings with ourselves as with the wider world. So, we hope this finds you well and rested, and we send our very best wishes to you.

Details of how to make voluntary contributions for past and ongoing work for these resources are available tonight on the Dropbox too, in pdf and Word docs.

22 March 2020

Study aids and changing hair styles

Lots more clips are being uploaded right now onto the Dropbox today (Sunday) for students' use. Get in touch if you study with any Great River instructor, or with Mark at The T'ai Chi Centre so I can send you the link.

Well, something I never do is watch my own videos, as they are made in the moment as study aids for those present in the room, the exact opposite feeling and intent of a 'presentation' for persons unknown. I am still relabelling and watching all the T'ai Chi clips I ever shot (the ones that I have, that is, there's probably a dozen more on folks' phones...) It is actually sweet and funny, standing here at my desk, seeing all the different rooms, all those little glitches and habits as they change over the years, all the moments of real flow, and not least the never ending hair changes. I do hope you have a chuckle too. I will rerecord Mark doing the Salutations as soon as I can, as the ending movement is now slightly different from what is in my old clips. But it's not urgently important.

What is important is anything that helps you physically practice. Personally I don't think you can 'learn T'ai Chi' from a video, or a book, it is an in-person art, taught by direct transmission. However, that's not what these videos are about, as study aids they are just fine. An aide-memoire, a prompt, will get your body moving again when your mind says 'what comes next?'. Everyone, Short Form Tooting Lido students included, has enough T'ai Chi to be getting along with for now: the whole warm up set, Five Elements Chi Kung, Front Heart Salutation, Short Form up to diagonal flying, I think. Even that would be a wonderful regular practice. Do not worry about getting things wrong. Just have a go, relax, let your body remember the feeling.

For all the students who have been with me for years, (some of you 16 years!) you know how and what to practice, to pay close attention to relaxing, letting go of self, outreaching to the horizon if you can, (or however you frame that feeling we were working on last Aberdeenshire classes). Left Side form video does not yet exist, and I will ask Mark today if he would let me film him. Partnerwork can be done with our 'imaginary ninjas' who always give us just the right push and never annoy us in class. I think we are all getting enough difficult pushes right now, however, so don't feel bad about the lack of formal partner work and pushing hands. Crikey, everything is pushing hands just now.

Uprightness, centre-line, the one root, rotation of waist, limbs especially, bees knees, open expanded awareness, no grasping anything, not even an idea, not even fixing the eyes in place...  Anyone needing more to work on, feel free to email me! More later, maybe check the Dropbox daily for now. Here's a pic from the first year I started taking photos at class.

Sandy does a good kick to my knee, 
Dance, 2009

21 March 2020

Dropbox teething problems

Dear friends and students, please bear with me while I upload everything to Dropbox again today, and re-invite everyone later by email. Mark will look over all his extant videos today, and I am relabelling mine so that they can be more easily accessed by beginners and old hands alike. I am in effect doing two years of online and files admin in one weekend, so if online lessons and 121s with Mark, clips and beginners online sessions from me take a week to sort out, then please know I am working as fast as I can, and resting when I need to. Who knew the 'apocalypse' would mean me staring at a screen all day every day?

Anyway, just to say I am on the job, and have been appreciating all your messages and kind words.

20 March 2020

Taichi video resources coming today, online teaching from next week...

Dear students of Great River, The T'ai Chi Centre, and friends of ours who also practice Dr Chi or John Kells lineage T'ai Chi, I hope you are all OK in these difficult times. Mark and I had a quiet 'Thursday Class' here at the Hampton Court woodland hut HQ last night. We did some free pushing and a very open, expanded Long Form. We are both working on what we will share with you in person when the times allow it. This blog will be where all the latest news is, and I will attempt to update it far more often, as appropriate. Long post, but hopefully packed full of vitamins for you.

The last few days and probably today, we will be busy with lock-down preparations, buying food, (mainly for the swans, to be honest), etc, as measures are likely to come in force here very soon, as is correct.

In response to the new circumstances, Mark has in principle agreed to start teaching via Zoom, as I said I was going to do so for my Tooting Short Form class as soon as possible. Give us the weekend to try things out and trial a few things, senior students with iPads or laptops, we may be in touch to ask you to trial using a session for us. I need to get a tripod for my phone today, somehow...

Meanwhile, I am forcing myself to watch the many, many clips I have made over the years for students, to label and sort them. I have already posted many onto my Dropbox. There is a very easy way for you to obtain any videos you want, without us having to post them online on platforms we don't like, even with passwords, as that's not really what we want to do. We also don't want folks to have to trawl random videos of strangers doing slightly or very different forms, on web pages full of adverts for ridiculous things, as it can be confusing, especially for the beginner.

All students, friends and old members of either school please send me an email to info at greatrivertaichi dot co dot uk , or my personal email, for those of you that have it, they both come to the same account. In the email put 'Taichi' in the subject line. Please put your name in the message, as your email address may not be recognised by my account, and may not reflect your name. You can leave the rest of the message blank if you have nothing to tell me :) otherwise, requests for certain videos of forms, applications, heartwork, or whatever would be happily received. I have a Dropbox account and am currently uploading lots of the films we have. Some are new, some are very old. You will receive an email that gives you access to the videos any time, you can download and keep them for personal study only, and do not post them on the internet or share them to non-GR and TCC students. We appreciate your care with this. All you need to get the files is to download the free version of the Dropbox application from the web or your phone app store.

I will write more here tomorrow when the files are fully uploaded, the connection here is average, so it takes a while. Lastly, as you will know, Mark and I rely on teaching face to face, and our entire livelihoods have evaporated in a matter of days, with no guarantee the summer workshop will be secure. We do hope it will run, and would reschedule something for later in the year if it were cancelled. Mark and I will work over the coming days and weeks to make sure you have 1: resources for private study, 2: Zoom (and Instagram for my beginners) based online sessions which you can join in if you have an internet connection and laptop / pc / iPad, etc., 3: Access to us for study related questions and resource requests by email, any time. Long term students are also welcome to call, of course, that hasn't changed. My 'sabbatical' is on hold, I am available to my students throughout this time. I may not be travelling to teach until September, but nor is anyone else! So I am now 'back on duty' as regards and T'ai Chi or related queries.

In the Dropbox folder tomorrow will be a file giving the Paypal details for both of us. For students in the same boat who now have no income, we totally understand and it's fine not to pay subs. If you have secure income of whatever type, and feel able to transfer a small amount for the videos and other resources, we would hugely appreciate it. We will keep it informal, and leave it up to everyone to decide how, when, to whom and how often they transfer any remuneration. It could be one-off, it could be monthly, weekly, whatever. I will post separately about specific online class costs and 121 Zoom sessions, another day. I will be talking to Mark about him teaching 121 Zoom sessions from next week, so that you can book 121 slots, even from the comfort of a Scottish sitting room*... I will test a session here, from his boat to mine, but rest assured we hope not to only communicate with each other in this manner in future.

I am upgrading to a paid version of Dropbox again right now so we have plenty of room for the videos, as they are large files. I have spent / am about to spend many hours (gladly) doing all the admin for this, and hopefully it will be a great resource in future, especially for students now living far away. So just to say, bear with us while we set this up, check in here daily for the latest info, and wish me luck not getting brain death having to watch videos of myself all weekend. These resources are all for the existing students: to us, the films would make no sense to someone who is not already studying with us. Who knew that it would take a global pandemic for Mark and me to finally find a way to have video available and yet also 'not enter the competition'?

Best wishes to you from the river. Go outside to practice whenever you can. Last night we had an owl hooting through the Long Form - priceless.

*Ivor Cutler joke for those in the know.
Porthole full moon, last month.

18 March 2020

Mark's classes postponed due to Covid 19 precautions

All Mark's in person classes are now postponed until after the outbreak.

We hope that by the time of the summer and autumn workshops that T'ai Chi will have resumed.

At the weekend we will be talking about whether to  / how to teach online, by video, recorded videos, Skype, Zoom etc.

People with positive experience of any particular method or platform are welcome to get in touch with either of us.

More here as soon as I know more. Stay safe and well, practice when you can.

17 March 2020

News: Tooting Lido Class now cancelled plus contact details

Events and advice regarding Covid 19 has changed dramatically since even yesterday. I therefore regret but I must cancel my classes with immediate effect as the virus is spreading so quickly in London and I do not want to add to that unfolding disaster.

I am sorry for the short notice, but I have woken up to new advice as reported in The Guardian today. Over the weekend I will make videos and teach online as soon as I have found and tested a suitable platform, probably Zoom, as I have used this before and have an account, somewhere. Thanks in advance for your patience. Having been an 'in-person' person all my life, this will take a little adjustment, but I am willing to adapt.

Flexibility is quality of Tao...

What a strange time we are in. Please let any other SLSC or non-club T'ai Chi students know about the changes, I will prepare posters for the pool and venue later today and email them over to be printed and put around. 

As soon as it is safe to do so I wish to continue teaching, same time and day. I will be back as soon as circumstances allow.

In the meantime you can email me at info at greatrivertaichi dot co dot uk and call or text on 07732 659104. I have films, clips and resources of everything we study and am happy to email them, Dropbox or message. I hope to find a way to have them online but password-protected soon. Both Mark and I still do not wish to put our work online willy-nilly, and thus be part of the endless competition...

Best wishes to you all, be well, Caro