Featured Instructor



Each instructor is asked the same set of questions:
1. How (and when) did you start?
2. Why Practical Tai Chi Chuan?
3. What is your favourite technique - and why? (in 50 words)
4. One piece of advice or knowledge you would like to give to fellow practitioners:
5. How do you train now?

1. How (and when) did you start?
When my training started in September 1995 I had no idea I was getting into a martial art. At the time I was researching ways of dealing with regular migraines and read an article suggesting Tai Chi could help. Fortunately a class was starting locally, with no idea what to expect and out of curiosity went along.

2. Why Practical Tai Chi Chuan?
From the first class I realised this was not going to be just another exercise group, it was interesting where others were not, and it made me think. I like the structured practical way it’s taught with everything having an explanation, it’s like peeling off layers and finding out more, learning and realising how little you know, constantly challenging, always interesting. It was not too long after starting I went to my first workshop with Dan Docherty, if I’d had doubts about continuing with Tai Chi before there certainly weren’t after. On arrival I was a little bit in awe of him and everyone around all so knowledgeable and I was very much a beginner, but Dan was, and still is so very generous with his time and knowledge it confirmed this was what I’d been looking for.

3. What is your favourite technique - and why? (in 50 words)
Difficult to choose as all techniques are interesting in their way, however I’ve decided Step Back to Strike the Tiger – get the timing right; stepping, moving from the centre, everything moving together it demonstrates to me Tai Chi is not about physical strength.

4. One piece of advice or knowledge you would like to give to fellow practitioners:
Always look with fresh eyes, no matter that you’ve practiced a technique 100 times before, treat it as the first time and keep it simple.

5. How do you train now?
I train daily in different ways; weather permitting outside early morning Nei Gong or Forms, with my cat by my side – bliss. Workshops and classes - learning and sharing.  Workshops/camps with Dan Docherty whenever possible – inspiring.

I have a website which is being re-vamped at present: chiinunity.co.uk



 1. How (and when) did you start?
In 1990 I decided I had to do something more than work, eat, ferry 4 children to innumerable activities and sleep. The kid’s judo coach, wanted me to take up the sport again but I declined – it may be the way of softness, but that was not how I remembered it! I tried the gym but hated it so looked at what was available locally and, in early September, wandered in to the King Alfred Leisure Centre to observe Aikido and Tai Chi. The next week I started my tai chi journey under Steve Wilkins. I baishi’d with Dan in January1993 and started to go to some of his workshops when they were in Sussex. Steve moved on so Peter Ballam and William Thorne became my regular teachers until I took over their class in Hove about 10 years ago.

2. Why Practical Tai Chi Chuan?
 I like the mixture of subtlety and directness and the fact there is no requirement to believe in mystical forces unknown to western science. The breadth of the syllabus is such that I have no need or time for anything else.

3. What is your favourite technique - and why? (in 50 words)
There are no techniques only principles as Dan says(!) but if I must choose it has to be Slap Face – evade and divert, inside or outside, followed by a direct counter.

4. One piece of advice or knowledge you would like to give to fellow practitioners:
Practice every day and NOT just forms.

5. How do you train now?

My routine for the last year or so has been:

Monday morning: 3 x 2 mins Running Thunder Hands up and down shingle beach followed by Short Form
Monday evening: 1hr Tai Chi in the Park class in summer. Mandarin at evening class in winter
Tuesday morning: ‘Not Tiger Stretching’ with 4lb weights, the 5 exercises for max 10 minutes
Tuesday evening: 1st 6 Yin or Yang Neigong (1 month of each starting with Yin in January)
Wednesday morning: RTH on the beach followed by Advanced Short Form
Wednesday evening: 2nd 6 Yin or Yang Neigong
Thursday morning: ‘Not Tiger Stretching’
Thursday evening class: 1st hr Hand Forms and Push Hands, 2nd hr Weapons, applications and freestyle plus any other routines I feel like for a change, 3rd hr The Connaught Inn
Friday: … your joking, it was a late night!
Saturday morning: RTH followed by each of the Weapons Forms & Long Form with a couple of senior students
Sunday: No PTCC – I go dinghy racing.


 Not sure I fit in to such illustrious company as the previous featured instructors as I’m very much a part timer. I just describe myself as an enthusiast although I have been training a long time. I’ve won no medals, in fact, the only proper martial arts competition I have ever been in was as a yellow belt at the British Judo Council Nationals in 1970 where I got dumped out, wazari-awazati-ipon, in the first round.
I was born in August 1946 and had a relatively affluent childhood as the son of two GPs but I hated grammar school and ‘ran away to sea’ at the tender age of 16. Four years later I had travelled all over the world on oil tankers and was a 3rd Officer but bored out of my skull.  I ‘swallowed the anchor’, bummed around the UK, Europe and North Africa for the next four years trying to figure out the meaning of life. Strangely I didn’t find it and got fed up with being broke so decided I must get a career. The next 4 years I spent in Brighton Fire Brigade, fell in love, got married, bought a house, started dinghy racing and got my 1st Kyu at judo. In the summer of ‘75 I was training hard for my dan grade when I hit a wall and frustratingly could make no progress seeming to get worse and worse the harder I trained. The following year our first beautiful child was born and a couple of months after that they finally worked out what was wrong and I went into hospital to be stabilised on insulin with type 1 diabetes. In those days Type1s could not remain on active service and I found the Fire Control Room extremely tedious.
The university degree I had scorned beckoned but we had a big mortgage and no A levels so my wife and I worked when we could and I followed an intensive ‘Polymaths’ course in the evenings and got a place to read Mathematics at Sussex. There I set myself three targets – a ‘good’ degree, a 1st Dan in judo and a dinghy National Championships. I got a 2i, a PGCE and 3 more beautiful children but failed to hit the other two targets. I gave up judo in my final year when I had got back to a decent brown belt standard. I started teaching maths at Varndean High School but soon switched to ICT which was much more fun and I stayed there for the rest of my working life taking up taijiquan in 1990 to stay sane.
By 2003 I had got out of teaching children by managing the school networks during the day and teaching adults ‘ICT for The terrified’ a couple of evenings a week when the love of my life had a devastating stroke and I took slightly early retirement to help her lead a full and active life.
I never liked working so retirement suited me, I just wish it hadn’t come early in the way it did. We enjoy the arts and have holidayed all over the Mediterranean including three trips to Morocco which is entertaining with a wheelchair! The kids visit often and also give me respite for a couple of weeks in the summer each year when I either go sailing or taichiing. I have been to Rencontre Jasnieres 3 times and, though some of them are lovely, I remain unconvinced by the non-Wudangers. However I do love freestyle push hands despite, or perhaps because of, its limitations. In 2015 I took a trip to China visiting, among other places, the National Wushu Museum in Shanghai, Chenjiago, Northern Shaolin and Wudsangshan with my eldest son – an accountant and accomplished White Crane practitioner I’m sorry, but also very proud, to say! The other children have all eschewed martial arts since their teens but have forged successful careers as doctor, social worker and film lighting engineer. We have two grand children with twins on the way.

As you can see Tai Chi is not my whole life but it has been an important part of it for nearly 30 years so thanks, Dan and fellow Tudi. 

My website/blog is wishwudangtaichi.org.uk

Tim Jones January 2019

To see other Instructors Featured in this series please click on their names:
Catherine Birkinhead

Saar Avivi

Jessie Cazales

Chris Henney

Cormac Macgowan

Katherine Allen

Ramon Moral-Abad

Charlie Gorrie

John Bunyan

Kenet Nicholls

Dennis Dilday

Ladan Niayesh

Luce Condamine

Phil Brown

Garreth Hodgins