What you need to do is claim the work as your own – break from its sources so that it can start to thrive inside each of us.

Rooting, life & commitment

Answers to questions posed recently. The questions are obvious.

Any energy effect (experience) is something to be passed through rather than held onto.

If you hold onto experience (energy) then it becomes a barrier to future experience (energy).

Rooting is only possible if you are allowing energy into and out of the body; then you root through your feet to the Earth, your head to the Heavens and your hands (or wherever – heart) to the other.

If you are truly and honestly letting energy into your system from the outside and giving energy to that outside (i.e. communicating) then your energy (and health) problems should dissipate.

Rooting is about aligning the body with the forces acting upon it so that flows of energy establish themselves in, out and through. The body as channel rather than vessel. Energy flows out of us into the Earth and so from the Earth into us, into us from the other and so from us into them. These flows cleanse us of anything that clings, whether it be tension, energy or ego.

Pushing Hands (the controlled practice of yield-attack with another) is generally a waste of time because it encourages both incorrect softness (a backward moving mind-body) and incorrect hardness (a forward moving mind-body). If we have central equilibrium then we have a still mind-body and moving energy.

Tai Chi simply offers the opportunity to practice beautiful principles in a controlled environment. It will not improve your personality. What will improve your personality is the commitment to bring those principles into your day-to-day living, especially your relationships. This should happen naturally if these relationships are passionate – if they involve feelings, emotions and the body rather than the considering and considerate mind – if they honestly face the issues rather than opt for comfort (avoidance).

I think Dr Chi abandoned Tai Chi for Christianity (really for Jesus) because he felt that Jesus's message of love – God is all loving and all forgiving (probably the most radical message ever preached) was far more useful to his spiritual progress than the principles of Tai Chi. His practice involved praying and reading scripture all day.

Dr Chi found seated meditation a waste of time because it didn't involve another. For him, like my teacher, the most important problem facing anyone is yielding – how to open up to and cope with energy impinging from outside one's immediate realm – how best to respond to attack. At present I find the problem immediately preceding this one – how do I get my own energy out there – how do I attack (trust) – to be more challenging. But ultimately they amount to the same thing.

From 1987-2007 I was a full-time Tai Chi student-teacher. Now I am making every effort to get a life. This involves being a partner to a beautiful woman, a father to beautiful children, a teacher to beautiful students, a therapist to beautiful patients and a friend to beautiful people. I can honestly say that this is far more difficult and rewarding than filling a life with Tai Chi and nothing else.

A real teacher always teaches the things he (desperately) needs to work on himself. What is the point in retreading familiar ground?

Never be ashamed of what you do, or consider any action you take as unspiritual. If you do whole-heartedly and with humility then it will always have spiritual content.


Stress of togetherness

Everything stems from Central Equilibrium – if I want to receive energy then I must pour my energy into the thing I wish to receive from – and if I want to give energy then I must open up and allow the thing I give to into my body. This is the spiritual in Tai Chi – oneness being the instantaneous combination of giving and receiving. But it only really becomes spiritual when I open up to, allow and encourage the stress of the togetherness into every part of myself – when I face the danger and allow the passion.


TaiChi HeartWork in London

Two workshops in London Saturday & Sunday 25/26 October. We will be investigating Central Equilibrium on the vertical axis (spine) and the horizontal plane (heart) and showing how the interaction of these two realities creates the Tai Chi Form.


Play Guitar

Ever wondered what the pipa looked like & sounded like?

Click here.


The real test, as always, is to keep the energy flowing – to feed the passion.


Photo by Siany Moore of her son (my nephew) Torfinn


For me, work – everything I do – must have spiritual meaning/depth – must be concerned principally with spiritual freedom (Forget self and become one with the Tao). Other concerns – martial prowess, understanding energy, power, technical niceties, different Forms – have no interest because I have come to realise that they all intrude between me and the other person, and particularly between me and myself. True change – revelation – is about shedding baggage, not acquiring more and more.


A tense (clenched) jaw is our attempt to set the world the way we want it. Not only the world but our own face.


A sincere smile relaxes the jaw.


There is no real spiritual worth in energy. Energy as a by-product of spiritual work is fine as long as it is not indulged. Energy for energy's sake is a waste of time, and a waste of work. What is important is to clear the body so that energy can flow through it. This means allowing it and not becoming attached to it. This is very difficult, partly because energy clings to our physical body as well as our ego and we have to actively and constantly shed it with relaxation (an expansive non-attachment).

Energy becomes a problem when it gathers and accumulates in the body. It will only do so if you do not have a healthy relationship with your sources of energy (Earth, Heaven, air, water, food, friends, lovers, teachers, students, etc). By healthy I mean one that gives as good as it gets – that doesn't attach and allows flow through – in and out. As soon as it starts to gather it begins to fuck the mind, indulge the ego, and make the body lazy – it clogs and bloats the body making it a difficult place for you to reside and an impossible place to invite others – it no longer allows free passage.

What is important is to become a strong channel or support for energy. If your relationships are healthy then you are connected to infinite sources of energy, and so the amount of energy you command depends only on your ability to stay connected and support the flow.


Even if you have it just a tiny bit wrong then still everything must change – if one bit is wrong then it is all wrong because every part mirrors the whole. But also if you have it a little bit right then in a sense you have the template of correctness already within you, and once you start to work from that little right place, it will all begin to fall into place.



A healthy spine is an extending spine. By extending we mean that energy is flowing through (along) it and out of both ends – through the head to the Heavens and through the legs and into the Earth. When the spine extends in this manner then energy comes into the spine from Earth and Heavens and gathers in the Heart, from where it engages the world we inhabit. The impetus behind extension is our basic joy at being (alive) – our soft spirit. The two major tensions in the body – in the hips and in the jaw – basically stopper the spine, stunting its energetic functioning, preventing energy flowing freely in and out – no breathing. These tensions are our way of locking up both our capacity for spontaneous free expression and our essential connectedness.


All and everything is caught in the bind of spontaneity:
all inner and outer worlds are spontaneously imaged,
the whole of samsara and nirvana is a spontaneous display
and pure mind is primordial spontaneity—
there is nothing other than spontaneous perfection.

from Old Man Basking in the Sun: Longchen Rabjampa's Treasury of Natural Perfection


Change is easy. What is difficult is coming to the decision that change is what you really want.

Not really change – rather maturation – wisdom. As someone once said: A man does not change, he just stands more revealed.

But to stand more revealed everything must change.

Real change doesn't accrue, it sheds.


I want my Tai Chi to be a way of investigating and practising love. If love is the driving force in the universe, which all spiritual disciplines tell us, then every action I make and take, from the tiniest twitch to the grandest sweep, should be motivated by love and should be an expression of love. For this reason my Tai Chi has little to do with postures and techniques (what I call the clutter of Tai Chi). It is the attentive and loving awareness I bring to whatever I do.


Hale & hearty.


3 months today
Ineffability, openness, spontaneous presence, oneness.

The Four Great Samayas of Buddhism



This is a difficult one. How do we change? How can we change? The usual approach in Tai Chi, what we call the Kung Fu approach, is to improve by working hard – practising moves and techniques endlessly, acquiring skill and power. Now the problem with this approach is that the change incurred tends to be external – cosmetic – and deep down the person remains the same frightened and neurotic individual that felt compelled to work obsessively hard in the first place: the work has been a form of retreat or hiding from basic insecurities and inadequacies, covering internal weakness with a gleaming armour of strength and expertise. This approach is based on the assumption that I need to be better than I am. As soon as we enter or construct such a world we have hierarchies and dualities – this student is better than that one – that teacher is better than this one – today's practice session wasn't as good as yesterday's, etc – we have external standards to which we feel we need to aspire. Such a world is competitive and comparative and will only serve to prevent a student or teacher from real internal change: one aspires to be the best – a position from which one never need face one's weaknesses again: (if you're a good boy then you'll go to Heaven.)

So what then is the alternative? Ripping yourself open, exposing your heart, and hoping for the best? Absolutely not. There is no need to suffer. Martyrdom is a complete waste of time, energy and life. The alternative – not really an alternative – actually the only possibility – is to completely accept the way you are at this present time. To accept you need to know, and if you accept you will know, because when you can deeply and honestly say to yourself that you are OK – you are perfect as you are – and what's more you are happy as you are – then all of your character exposes itself because it no longer has reason to hide; and this is the biggest shock – the most terrifying prospect – to fully and truly see yourself in all your glory and not feel pride or shame or whatever – simply to accept. Such acceptance is love and it is only with this healing love from yourself that you can move on, that you can change at the deepest of levels. It's like one of those Zen paradoxes: you can only move on when you are happy as you are. And this cannot be used as a technique: accepting yourself in order to change wont work because the acceptance will be superficial. It has to be entered into whole-heartedly and with complete honesty. And the beauty of it is that in learning to accept yourself you certainly learn to accept others – your critical comparing mind just stops and you see things as they are – beautiful and perfect.


The best (only) defence is an open heart.


Softness, as we know, is non-resistance. Allowing things to be and to develop not as separate entities or events, with us as passive observer, but as parts of ourselves, because everything we witness is part of ourselves – is taken inside in the act of witnessing. This is yielding. The enemy of this perfectly natural process is the thinking mind (which is also the fearful mind – the mind only thinks because it is afraid). The thinking mind cannot experience, it can only think (fear), and as such it constantly filters the present moment through the gauze of past experience and future fantasy, reducing and distorting it enormously. The thinking mind records the moment or the event or the experience so that it can replay it and repeat it at its own leisure, because one thing the thinking mind cannot do is operate in real time – it is far too slow and disconnected. But this is like analysing a painting or a photograph of a scene instead of experiencing the scene itself: it completely misses the fine texture of the experience – that part that cannot be faithfully documented. This is the softness of the experience. It is the part that does not resist and so cannot be recorded. It is elusive and will only present itself to our softness, which is why hard people just cannot comprehend that it exists at all. So when touched by a soft person there is no flow of energy – no passage of information – no communication as such. Instead I am transported – I am taken into a different reality to my own. And this is why we push hands. It isn't to test each others rootedness or yielding ability, it is simply to wake up to the fact that each of us is a unique creature – a living entity with a unique heritage and a unique place, and that that uniqueness is in the softness of the person, not in their mind or body or spirit.
Spirit in the service of the mind is willfulness – it cuts through life like a machete through the jungle – carving a path but reducing the environment enormously.



Yielding, for me, has nothing to do with evasive action. Yielding is simply letting the other person into my body. Then through that body into the Earth. To let the other in I must make space, which means I must leave, or at least my tension, my self-image, my thoughts, ideas, opinions, criticisms, my noise, my sleepiness, my shit, must leave because there simply isn't space for both of us: I block their flow into and through me. It is my spirit that both invites – entices – and then clears the way through. It does this by calling to the spirit of the other.

First rain

For the love of it.