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...
Photograph © Denis BOULANGER
1) How (and when) did you start ?
I started Tai Chi by chance, thanks to my elder sister. One day, more than 30 years ago (it was last century !), she told me : "There is a Chinese master today at the Cité Universitaire theatre (in Paris), come and see with me…"
So I did… it was a bit interesting, a bit exotic, and I was just looking for something to play (and not piano !), as I was working hard as a doctor in a Paris public hospital. And I began to attend Tai Chi lessons in Paris, as a "bad" student : once a week, and not every week, and very often late at the lesson (because you know when you enter the hospital… but you never know when you go out).
But I really started 10 years after. I began to train everyday when I was living in London : for my scientific post doc year in the Royal Free Hospital. No patients, no clinical reponsabilities as a Doctor, just science… and Tai Chi !
I used to go to school with my children (walking), then to train my little Tai Chi in Hamstead Heath, every morning (sometimes with the sound of a bagpipe… far in the woods…), and after, to go to the Hospital, in a scientific lab… During the day : I used to prepare all the manip, and while the machines were working, I used to go and train in the studio (in the basement of the hospital), usually at noon…
So I discovered that I can survive one or two days without going at the hospital (Saturday and Sunday, for instance), because in France I have been working in public hospital, with patients (not in a lab !), and have been working every Saturday and at least one Sunday of two (and of course, during all the week !). I can survive too without any "garde" (we stay all night long at the hospital, for emergencies, on top of our everyday work)… But if one day I missed my Tai Chi training (in the park and in the studio), I really felt that it's missing… And when I train everyday, my mood is so good, I sleep well, and I enjoy more life. That's how I decide to share all these benefits with people, and particularly with my patients, when I am back to France.
2) Why Practical Tai Chi Chuan?
I used to train in a Yang style school for at least 12 years, but after a while, I felt it was a bit limited… I went to China, and I attended competitions in Europe, workshops, and international meetings, to discover and see other things… In Rencontres Jasnières (one of the first non competiting Tui Shou meetings) in France, I met Dan DOCHERTY, the morning after the traditional wine testing, and he gave me a nice (sweet) compliment with a bit of acidity and bitterness in it (he thinks women don't like too much sweetness…). Afterwards I used to train with my neighbour (in Paris suburb), Phil Brown, who introduced me to Practical Tai Chi Chuan (I am still grateful to him). I also attended to Oxford Tai Chi Competition and won some gold and silver medals thanks to my ancient Yang style…
I used to write for french magazines (Dragon, Samouraï, Arts et Combats, Energie, etc…) and I met and interviewed many teachers and Masters… and tested many things… I found a lot of interesting Tai Chi, Qigong, or taoist practices, some for health, some for fight, some as a nice gymnastics… A lot of people know perfectly their part… But not so many were able to explain their knowledge, not so many had a whole range of habilities. And not so many were able to share their knowledge… You have to look also the students of a teacher / Master ; if no one is able to go as far (or even beyond) the teacher / Master, you can imagine that the teacher / Master doesn't know how to, or doesn't want to transmit his / her knowledge. At the end of the day, I found that Dan DOCHERTY was very interesting : not only he has an extended knowledge (martial and health practices), but he is also a kind of scholar, a library worm, and he showed such a generosity in the transmission of his knowledge, he has a lot of very talented students. That's how I chose Practical Tai Chi Chuan International, Dan's school, (after his Master's school : Wutan Tai Chi Chuan). And some years later, when I am authorized to have my own disciples, I named my french school "Tai Chi et Qigong pratiques".
3) What is your favourite technique and why?
Perhaps the advanced short form, because it's the first thing I learned in this school… (and won a gold medal at the world championship in China with it)… I also very much like practicing weapon forms, perhaps because I won a lot of titles with them, and particularly the sabre form because it fits me (I am a "Tiger" in the Vietnamese zodiac)… But what I enjoy the most is to practice with my love, especially taoist practices, because you really feel "embracing the one", and at your right place in the nature and the universe.
4) One piece of advice or knowledge you would like to give to fellow practitioners?
My piece of advice : "be kind and do your best" !
The moto of our school (in la Maison du Taiji / Paris Tai Chi) is :
"Servir, ne pas se servir, ne pas asservir"
("to serve, never be self-serving, never put others in servitude"…)
5) How do you train now ?
Now I train when I have time to… so, it's much less than I would like to. Of course, about the neigong, I train more (not every day, but nearly), since Dan told me that, when I have less time, it's more important to practice neigong than forms… When I undergone Bai Shi with Dan and have been training under him for years, I used to train really everyday… It is the same when you train forms and Tui Shou, and plan to attend to some competitions; it's, in a way, "easier" : you don't wonder, you just train everyday, there is no question.
Dr Luce CONDAMINE (MD, PhD)
Luce CONDAMINE is a medical doctor, a specialist one, former “Interne des Hôpitaux de Paris” and former “Chef de Clinique” (Saint Vincent de Paul hospital, Paris, University René Descartes, Paris V). During her studies and her thesis of medicine, she has been also enjoying scientific research, with a Diplôme d’Etudes Approfondies (DEA) in Physiology of Development; she became a Doctor ès Sciences and undergone a postdoctoral position in London (at the Royal Free Hospital, in the Peter Rowe’s lab), and then a “Poste d’Accueil” at INSERM (National Institute of Health and Medical Research, in France). She was one of the forerunner in the pain treatment (she created the first anti-pain consultation in 1996), and became doctor in Chief of the Evaluation and Treatment of Pain Centre in Robert-Debré hospital (Assistance publique - hôpitaux de Paris). Now she develops particularly the non-pharmacological methods of treatment of pain. She is also a traditional chinese medicine practitioner, Tai Chi and Qigong teacher; she was European Tai Chi champion (from 2004 to 2008), gold medalist in traditional Tai Chi at World championship in China in 2006 (and bronze medalist in Tai Chi sword). She is also an author (books on Tai Chi and Qigong, for children and for adults).
Dr Luce CONDAMINE designed several formations in Assistance publique - hôpitaux de Paris, for doctors and care givers : « Well-treatment and well-being at work », ” Take care of oneself, to take care of the others”… She created the Universitary Diploma “Medical Tai Chi / Tai Chi for Health” at the medical University Paris XII.
She works now in the Federation of neurolocomotor rehabilitation (Physical rehabilitation medicine Unit, Spine institute) in both hospitals Henri-Mondor and Albert-Chenevier (Assistance publique - hôpitaux de Paris), and teaches in several Universities (about pain treatment, patient education, spine diseases treatment, complementary medicine and non-pharmacological methods, narrative medicine (University René Descartes Paris V, University Paris Est Créteil, University Pierre et Marie Curie Sorbonne Université, I.)
La maison du Taiji: http://lucecondamine.free.fr/~