The London School of T’ai Chi Chuan…
From 1979 to 1995, I, together with an American colleague, set up and helped run the London School of T’ai Chi Chuan and Traditional Health Resources, a branch of the School of T’ai Chi Chuan, New York, founded by Patrick Watson 1, as Instructor and Co-Director with Patrick. The School is still running regular classes in London after more than 30 years.
This soft internal martial art is closely based on the understanding of balance and harmony as expressed in the Tao (re: Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu), which mirrors the understanding of Five Element acupuncture. I would like to mention some of its key principles:
- strength through softness – as given in Chapter 78 :
“Nothing in the world is softer or weaker than water
Yet nothing is better at overcoming the hard and the strong
This is because nothing can replace it…”
(Source:www.Taoism.net & Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by
SkyLight Paths in 2006).
In acupuncture terms this would be seen as the more subtle the needling, the deeper the message given by the needle to our energy, the opposite of more vigorous techniques, used primarily for a physical effect when required.
- wu wei – the action of non-action or actionless activity – as given in Chapter 48 :
“In the pursuit of learning, every day something is acquired.
In the pursuit of Tao, every day something is dropped.
Less and less is done
Until non-action is achieved.
When nothing is done, nothing is undone.
The world is ruled by letting things take their course,
It cannot be ruled by interfering.
(translation by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English)
To further understand this important chapter on wu wei, I quote also from Alan Watts “Tao : The Watercourse Way” : …wu wei, meaning not to force, refers to what we understand of one’s acting accordingly to nature, of one’s moving in order to avoid a stroke, of one’s swimming downstream, sailing before the wind, rolling like the waves or one’s bending in order to win.”
In acupuncture this principle would translate as minimum intervention for maximum results – in other words, less is often better.
- balance – a human being in proper relation to heaven and earth, balanced between the two forces, seen in Chinese as the balance between Yin and Yang.
My many years of involvement with T’ai Chi Chuan helped me to embody these principles that naturally inform my work and life in general to this day.
As Professor Worsley never ceased to remind us, through working with the laws of Nature we become instruments that allow the natural healing power of the individual to re-assert itself.
1 Patrick Watson was one of a handful of American students given permission to teach and train teachers by Professor Cheng Man ch’ing towards the end of his life. Master Cheng was a versatile and brilliant master of the Five Excellences : Painting, Poetry, Calligraphy, Medicine and T’ai Chi Chuan, and author of ‘Cheng Tzu’s Thirteen Treatises on T’ai Chi Chuan’.