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?
I started in 1990 with Steve Forde in Manchester, after hearing about Tai Chi Chuan as a martial art. Until then I had been practising various Japanese martial arts for about eight years.
2. Why Practical Tai Chi Chuan?
Steve and Dan's teaching styles suited me. In Practical Tai Chi Chuan nothing is held back by the teacher. If you are willing to put in the time and effort, you will be taught as much as you can absorb. And one big plus, it works.
3. What is your favourite technique –and why? (in 50 words)
Slap the face. It uses adherence and redirection to pull your attacker into the blow, which flows smoothly from the deflection. Then the slap can either stun or break the nose, both can be followed by a takedown. Illustrating the range of responses available in tai chi chuan.
4. One piece of advice or knowledge you would like to give to fellow practitioners:
You will never be happy with your technique or form. It will seem that it can be improved. Because your knowledge and ability improve over time, your target is always just beyond reach.
This is how we improve.
5. How do you train now?
I started martial arts when I was 14, first Shotokan, then Aikido followed by Kendo and Iaido. After moving to Stockport after graduating, I found Steve Fordes’ classes. And the other martial arts fell away over time. Tai chi chuan was extremely deep and rich, the more I thought I knew, the more I found I had to learn. I’ve stuck with it since then. 34 years now, that makes me feel old.
In the late 80s, I persuaded Dan that a website would help publicise our style. The taichichuan.co.uk website has moved on since I initially set it up in the late 80s. But it does seem to have helped attract students over the years.
When I moved back up to Edinburgh, I went along to Ian Cameron's classes for about two years. Then I was persuaded to start teaching again.
Seven years ago I was diagnosed with an illness that was slowly destroying my kidneys. Fortunately, my partner Hanna donated one of her kidneys to me four years ago. Now I am healthy again. But I am convinced that the Taichi and neigung practice got me through the worst of the illness. Letting me keep going when the doctors seemed to think I would fall over if I stood up too quickly.
Now I teach every week near Linlithgow and occasionally hold Saturday seminars on sword fighting. You can find my contact details on this website.