AL DORAN - MARTIAL ARTS COMMANDO
I last played rugby when I was 16. I quit because in a game with fellow students, I ended up at...
1. How (and when) did you start?
In the early nineties I attended my first Tai Chi class at the local Community College. I attended for about eight years, on and off, hit and miss, with no regular practice. What the teacher taught was an eclectic collection: some of us referred to it as the ‘Yoga-chi’ class. He would bring books to the class though, some by Dan, Ian Cameron, and Cheng Tin Hung. And he claimed to be teaching our style of Tai Chi – the Form anyway – there wasn’t much else.
2. Why Practical Tai Chi Chuan?
By the end of the nineties I was my early forties and had decided to look into Tai Chi more deeply. I bought the books that I knew of by Dan, Ian, and CTH, read them, and immediately realized two things: First, that what was in the books was not what was being taught in the Community College class; and second, that Tai Chi was big and complex – and when I include reading books by other authors – complicated and confusing. I made a choice not to try to read, study, and experience all things Tai Chi and then sort out the fact from fiction and truth from lies. I decided to choose as a teacher someone who could be trusted to have done enough of that, so that I could follow his lead. Mainly, I wanted to make sure that if I did all of the work necessary, and put out of that effort, which is considerable, I wanted there to be real transferable self defense skills acquired in the process. (It was immediately transparent to me that my first teacher’s applications were conjured from an attempt to extrapolate a Tai Chi Style into a technique.) In 2002 I went to meet Dan and Ian. While Ian may well win ‘nicest guy in Great Britain’ and the genuine physicality and integrity of his tai chi is apparent, Dan’s way of thinking, his logic and reasoning in both writing and teaching was a better fit for me. Dan took one look at my Form, informed me that it was neither Square nor Round, and that I was breaking the knee rule, then he started me all over from the beginning with the Long Round Hand Form. I made several trips, two to three weeks each, attending classes in London, staying with Dan and learning what I could; traveling with him as he conducted seminars. I could go on and on about all of that – to say that is was a great experience would be an understatement. I recognize and appreciate the privilege; and I greatly value the many ongoing relationships that were a result.
3. What is your favorite technique - and why? (in 50 words)
Single Whip. I like being on the outside. It allows a wide selection of strikes, sweeps, throws, and locks to follow. It contains within it so many elemental skills and strategic steps that I think it is a great place to dive deep into the work. And it’s pretty!
4. One piece of advice or knowledge you would like to give to fellow practitioners:
If you are new, try to appreciate this work. Try to grasp the depth and breadth of what is possible with this syllabus, and in this ‘school’. ‘Silently memorize, study and imitate.’ Seek true transmission. If you are not knew, see above, and try to offer a true transmission of the art – take this ‘lineage’ and ‘school’ thing seriously – it is rare and valuable thing.
5. How do you train now?
I do the rolls almost daily, followed by hand stands. And I teach 4-5 classes per week: at the local College (yep, where I took my first class:-), at a local Gym, and at a local employer’s facility. I teach as much of the syllabus as I know – and am authorized to teach; I train privately in an attempt to always move my own Forms forward – or at least not let them degrade much; and I strive to offer a true transmission of what I have been given.
A native of the Methow Valley (N. Central Washington State), and U.S. Navy Veteran (1974-1978), Dr. Dilday has been in Private Chiropractic Practice in Everett, WA since 1987. Health and fitness are his obsessions since 1973; backpacking and tai chi are his passions. And in these ways, Chiropractic, health, fitness, and tai chi, Dr. Dilday helps people and companies promote relief and wellness. A family practice of over 30 years, Dr. Dilday is Advanced Proficiency Rated in the Activator Method.
Everett Tai Chi Chuan: https://doctordilday.wordpress.com/everett-tai-chi-chuan/
Office website: http://www.doctordilday.com