While studying photography at art college at the end of the 1960s, I developed an interest in Eastern thought, particularly Zen and Taoism. Those ideas were very much around at that time and my interest was initially sparked through reading Alan Watts. Moving to London in 1980 I found a job working with the homeless. I had read about tai chi as a Taoist art, and at the invitation of a friend I began studying Cheng Man-ching’s tai chi in 1982 with the London School of Tai Chi-chuan. This school was set up by Patrick Watson, one of Cheng Man-ching’s American students. It was one of only a handful of tai chi schools in London at that time. This began 35 years of continuous study of Cheng Man-ching’s tai chi.
I went on to study with other teachers in the Cheng Man-ching tradition in London, including John Eastman, Nigel Sutton, Ben Clarke (student of Nigel Sutton), and William Aarvo Tucker. Nigel Sutton has a lineage through Professor Cheng’s students in Malaysia, who emphasise the martial use of tai chi. Aarvo Tucker was for 15 years a student of Liu Hsi-heng in Taiwan. Liu Hsi-heng took over Cheng Man-ching’s Shr Jung school in Taiwan when Professor Cheng moved to New York. Aarvo now lives in Canada and teaches tai chi, qi gong and bagua.
In 2005 I moved to Gloucestershire and trained in tai chi partnerwork with Alan Peck until his death in 2010. Alan Peck had trained in the Cheng Man-ching tradition with Dr Chi Chiang-tao, and John Kells. I continue to train regularly in partnerwork with some of Alan Peck’s senior students in Bristol. I also practice mindfulness meditation.
I have attended Wolfe Lowenthal’s Summer tai chi intensives in Europe and USA for the last 10 years and consider Wolfe to be my teacher. For many years my approach to tai chi had been greatly influenced by Wolfe’s books - on tai chi and his studies with Cheng Man-ching. On discovering in 2007 that Wolfe was teaching a seminar in Scotland, I applied to attend and was fortunate to be accepted. Inspired by the depth of Wolfe’s teaching, I have attended every one of Wolfe’s Summer seminars since.
In addition, over the years, I have attended seminars by a number of leading tai chi teachers, including senior students of Wolfe Lowenthal. I am a senior level instructor with the Tai Chi Union of Great Britain.