Nottingham Wudang Tai Chi Chuan is the Nottingham branch of Wudang Tai Chi Chuan, also known as Practical Tai Chi Chuan, an international school established by Dan Docherty (below right) who learned under Cheng Tin Hung (below left). Read more about Practical Tai Chi Chuan on Dan's website.
Who am I? My name is Alec. I have studied Tai Chi Chuan, under Dan Docherty, for over twenty years. I am qualified physiotherapist, graduating with a First Class Honours degree from the University of Nottingham and now specialising in musculoskeletal disorders.
So, what is Tai Chi? Tai Chi is often taught in only its 'yin', or softer, aspects. It is presented as a relaxed, flowing exercise appropriate for the elderly or infirm. This is true and Tai Chi has proven benefits in areas such as falls prevention and lowering cortisol levels (raised cortisol is often associated with stress). However, Tai Chi is more than just a gentle exercise regime. While its precise origin is uncertain, Tai Chi Chuan is generally acknowledged as a martial art which developed within a context of ancient Chinese hygienic and religious practices. The complete art includes 'yang', or more forceful, elements as well as meditative practices.
What does the syllabus include? The Wudang syllabus includes pushing hands drills, empty hand and weapon forms, conditioning training, martial applications and theory.
Pushing hands drills are partnered exercises that train coordinated movement and specific skills.
Forms are the slow, flowing sequence of movements most associated with Tai Chi. Most schools of Tai Chi have their own version of a 'short' form and this is a modern adaptation from the traditional 'long' form. The movement of all forms derive originally from martial applications.
Conditioning training includes handstands, punching with weights and other exercises. It is not appropriate or necessary for everybody, but for those who wish to be able to use the art practically, it is important.
Applications are not only the basis for the form, but allow physical interpretation of theory and an understanding of using the art for self defence.
Theoretical concepts abound in Tai Chi and reflect its cultural origins, emphasising balance, postural and mental correctness, whole body movement, concepts of duality and the interaction between forces as represented by the two basics, or yin and yang.
What do classes involve? Classes involve elements of all the above in varying degrees, and also qigong exercises. There is no bowing, no special clothing and little formality. This style is in keeping with my own teacher's approach, which he adopted from his teacher, Cheng Tin Hung.