25.5.17

Back in 1998 my teacher suddenly abandoned the British Tai Chi Chuan Association, the organisation he had founded in 1970 and which, at its height, in the mid eighties, was the largest and most vibrant Taiji centre in Europe. Admittedly it had been slowly declining ever since he and his family were evicted from the Upper Wimpole Street premises in 1993 due to neglect. In actual fact the decline had started years before then. For some time John Kells had been bored with the Yang style Taiji he was teaching because he felt it wasn't an adequate vehicle for either his Irish spirit or his Celtic vision (he was a true visionary if nothing else). He was playing around with little technical nicknacks he'd picked up here and there – the figure 8 exercise in Taiwan, Chen style push hands from Nitsan Michaeli, his own no-contact rebound – in the hope of injecting a bit of spirit into his complacent students, and maybe developing a new and fresh style of Taiji. And then suddenly he just stopped showing up – leaving it up to me to keep things ticking over. I asked him why and he just said, "I'm tired of being a crutch."

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