A student’s personal view

A personal view of Tai Ji Circle training with Shifu Liu: starting in 2006 as a new student and again in 2010

Relaxing is hard to do!

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Justin with Shifu Liu

“I never knew how hard it can be to truly relax. As a beginner in Chen style Tai Ji Quan, the over-riding lesson I’ve learnt so far is that true relaxation is a state of mind. This reflects the internal focus of the martial art, the basic premise being that mental focus enables you to stretch further, punch harder and balance easier. Not to mention de-stress and health benefits.

I had tried one or two lessons of Tai Ji in the past but never felt compelled enough to stick with it. It’s hard to explain what draws you to a particular class or teacher but for me, the Tai Ji Circle was different from the start. For one thing, there’s something noticeably real and honest about Shifu Quan Jun Liu’s teaching style. There are no life changing promises or ‘higher planes’ to speak of. It’s about achieving excellence and a kind that is much more than diplomas and belt grades can measure. Perhaps that’s because it’s measured by personal best, rather than beating others.

There seems to be no limit to how much can be learnt. Advanced students often attend beginner’s classes to refresh or reinforce the movements and even apparently simple details turn out to be extremely complicated and difficult to master. Each lesson is like unravelling a Russian doll – there’s always more beneath the surface.

It might be a journey without end, but this is what makes Chen Tai Ji both intensely challenging and uniquely rewarding. To adapt a phrase from a well known beer ad, it gets to parts other forms don’t reach. It’s hard to beat the post-class sensation of feeling at once deeply calm and bursting with energy: the fusion of opposites that matches the pattern of the Chen Tai Chi movements. A graceful, non-combative exterior hides an ultimately powerful martial art.”

APRIL 2010: Justin won 5 medals at the Oxford Championships, here is his response to the successes of that day

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Justin with all his medals!


TJC: Your success is due to your own hard work and self practice as well as training with Shifu Liu, what particular aspects of his teaching have helped you?

JS: There are many amazing aspects of Shifu Liu’s teaching. Too many to mention but I guess the first thing would be Shifu Liu’s own Tai Ji. I think anyone who has been to a class will testify that watching Shifu Liu demonstrate is truly captivating and inspiring. Personally I was also drawn to his ‘quiet’ style of teaching and his intense attention to detail. The endless repetition of movements – at first it can seem tiresome but after a while it seems that this way of teaching works on a deeper level of consciousness. I would say it’s a ‘feeling’ rather than a ‘thinking’ approach. But perhaps the most powerful and unique aspect of Shifu Liu’s teaching is his holistic approach that incorporates traditional Chinese medical principles, Daoist and Buddhist principles, as well as his extensive knowledge of martial arts in general. I quickly realised that the breadth of Tai Ji Circle classes and courses covers every type of fitness helping to improve stamina, flexibility, core strength, co-ordination, balance. Added to this is the general health and well being benefits that come from relaxation and developing presence of mind. And of course, self defence.