RUNNING ON EMPTY
1. How (and when) did you start?
I grew up with Dance and originally trained as a dance teacher. I ended up in London. The place I worked offered Tai Chi lessons. I was attracted to the graceful movements and its Far Eastern mystery. I had good instructors who taught Yang style; they focused on teaching forms. I then found a Yang style teacher who did teach basic application and push hands as well as hand form and weapon forms. I also trained as an assistant teacher and attended retreats and workshops, so my practice started to go to a different level. After 10 years in London following Yang style Tai Chi with various schools/Instructors, I then moved to Herts/Bucks area and found an Instructor nearby who was teaching Wudang PTCC; that was 7 years ago. Haven't looked back since!
2. Why Practical Tai Chi Chuan?
I'd moved out of London and the nearest class in my area was Wudang style which I didn't know much about. Also around that time a friend of a friend had been in touch and they were going off to the "Wudang Mountains" in China to deepen their Tai Chi practice! I remember thinking..."there it is again...Wudang....what is this Wudang all about? So my training in Wudang PTCC began. The focus on the martial aspects was an integral part of the training and took me out of my comfort zone but I soon realized how much that was benefiting my inner confidence in a way I had not experienced before. Also I have found that all the practitioners and teachers I have met and trained with in this style are very welcoming, supportive and encouraging - being respectful of other Tai Chi styles allows students to feel at ease and more open to learning and sharing experience with each other. I really appreciate that.
3. What is your favourite technique - and why? (in 50 words)
I don't really have a favourite technique, but I particularly like the static Nei Kung postures; I find them meditative plus the internal benefits for health & well being as well as internal strength are profound.
4. One piece of advice or knowledge you would like to give to fellow practitioners:
Hard work pays off....Diligent and consistent...like most things in life - you get out of it what you put in. If you want to progress quickly then you have to be prepared to put the work in, and making your personal practice a daily habit This demonstrates respect. Respect for yourself and your teacher, respect for the art. I grew up training in dance and particularly ballet training requires a lot of discipline and hard work which is what is required of martial art training.
I often use this quote from my teacher for my own students "if you miss 1 day practice - you know it, if you miss 2 days practice - your teacher knows it, if you miss 3 days practice - everyone knows it"
5. How do you train now?
daily, outside when at all possible as I much prefer the connection with nature when practicing Tai Chi, Attend workshops when I can too as it is very rewarding to work with experienced teachers and practitioners from the UK and Europe on push hands techniques and martial applications. Workshops can be intense and in depth but help to really accelerate your abilities, an enjoyable way of enriching your Tai Chi for the body, mind and soul!
Catherine runs "Tai Chi in the Chilterns" classes in the Herts, Beds, Bucks areas. She is a British and European Champion including 3 Gold medals achieved at the 8th TCFE European Championships in Russia 2016. Most recently Catherine's students took Gold, Silver and Bronze medals in push hands, hand forms and weapon forms at the 9th TCFE European Championships in Oxford, Nov 2017. She also has experience of Judging at competitions and continues to develop her own knowledge and skill through attending workshops, camps, retreats and seminars.