Pete Morris

What inspired me to learn Tai Chi?
What gives life to the Tai Chi I teach?

What inspired me to learn Tai Chi
My first glimpse of Tai Chi was from a good friend called Tony Gee in the mid seventies. His American uncle had taught him some of the form and I occasionally saw him practise. I was taken with the look and feel of the graceful movements, but did nothing about it at the time as there were no classes that I could find. I was very interested in Chinese philosophy and culture throughout my twenties, the I Ching in particular, which I found to be a great source of inspiration and it began, for me, the process of trying to understand who I was and how I was in this world. But I knew nothing about Tai Chi.

It was about 1987 when I next came across Tai Chi - I had just escaped from the hustle and bustle of London and a demanding job that involved lots of travelling and being away from home for extended periods. I was pretty stressed out and it was such a relief to be living in Bath, which is where I saw a poster for Tai Chi classes with Beverley Ferguson, one of the RDTC teachers. I went along, liked what I saw, and knew in my heart that this was what I was looking for - what really got me was the grace of the movements, I remember feeling my tension fall away as I watched Beverley demonstrate the form - so I signed up, and my journey began.

I know at the beginning that I was looking for something to help me relax in a healthy way, I wasn't particularly interested in the martial arts, partly because I was afraid of conflict and physical pain, but mostly because I couldn't see any reason to hurt other people, but I know that part of me was drawn to the idea of being able to defend myself. I had grown up as a fearful child who was bullied at school and this fear persisted at a subliminal level into my adulthood. I felt very split in that I was afraid of the world on the personal, inner level, but very capable and confident on the outer professional/job level.

Tai Chi, and the particular approach of RDTC to this art, has facilitated my growth as an adult, shown me the inner jewel of self, allowed me to walk tall and straight and to be seen in this world, and to yield without giving myself away. I am eternally grateful for all of this and more.

What gives life to the Tai Chi I teach?
I was not a good student in the early years! I knew it was good for me, it felt relaxing and energising, but I did not practise. I thought that the once a week 'fix' was all I needed - I was so busy in myself and in my life and thus missed the essence of Tai Chi. I learnt the short form then gave it up for 2 years to do other things that felt more important, then came back, then gave it up again and came back when I was finally ready to give it the attention it, and I deserved. Then, slowly, I began to appreciate the beauty of the inner and outer movements and the positive ways in which they were changing me as a person, and, importantly, I left behind the notions of Tai Chi as a chore to achieving health, and something I had to be good at, to enjoy it for what it is.

The text of the I Ching verse 3 - Chun - 'Difficulty at the Beginning' is very appropriate for me:

Difficulty at the beginning works supreme success,
Furthering through perseverance.
Nothing should be undertaken.
It furthers one to appoint helpers.

So, I was a reluctant student, but eventually, through perseverance and Tai Chi, I learned to listen to the inner voice that was telling me to go for it and to let go of my preconceptions of having to be 'good at it'. I feel so lucky in having had so many willing helpers in RDTC, without appointment! It is from this difficult beginning and realisation of the sheer joy of Tai Chi that I teach - it is a magical, and purely natural movement - born of connecting mind and body - of letting go - of feeling the difference that it makes - of accepting difficulty with it all and also having fun.

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