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 1980’s I suffered a serious horse riding accident which damaged my left arm. After six weeks in hospital, I was left with an arm that wouldn’t straighten at the elbow and which had severe shoulder restrictions. I had heard that tai chi was good for joint mobility and decided to join a class.
2. Why Practical Tai Chi Chuan?
In 1988 I wandered into the Jubilee Hall in Covent Garden to have a look at the tai chi class there. At this time I had no knowledge of different schools or styles or names of teachers. After watching the class, I spoke to the instructor, Dan Docherty, of whom I knew nothing. What impressed me was the way he stood and moved. He was strongly rooted, relaxed with good posture and moved with lightness and fluidity. He said that he thought tai chi would help my mobility, so I joined the class.
3. What is your favourite technique - and why? (in 50 words)
My favourite technique is the kick. I have always enjoyed balancing, and all of the kicks in the forms train balance and stability. Also, I have long legs which can easily reach body targets, so kicking feels natural to me.
4. One piece of advice or knowledge you would like to give to fellow practitioners:
Tai Chi has so much to offer and can open up new areas of interest and knowledge that aren’t always apparent at the beginning. So my advice would be to remain soft and receptive to new beginnings and new possibilities.
5. How do you train now?
My training is varied. Now that I am older, I focus mainly on the longevity and meditative aspects of qigong and tai chi. I like the idea of bending like bamboo and flowing like water with a dash of gong.
In 1992 I was awarded an Instructor’s Certificate from the TCUGB and began my teaching journey. Later in the 1990s, I served on the TCUGB committee for four years and occasionally competed in tai chi competitions. I also judged and helped out at various competitions. In 2016 I was commissioned to write The Qigong Bible which was published in 2017. In August 2017 I was honoured to receive a Level 9 certificate from Sifu Docherty. Tai Chi has taken me around the world including three visits to China, and has opened up new vistas. I feel like a perpetual beginner.