On 16th and 17th September, the Zhao Youbin Taiji Club (Podgorica) had the pleasure to host a workshop run by Nils Klug. The aim of the workshop was to introduce participants to the art of tui shou (push hands) and to some of the martial applications of certain Taiji postures.
We already knew that Nils is a seasoned Taiji and push hands practitioner, and we soon discovered that in addition he is also an excellent and warm-hearted teacher. Although the group was very heterogeneous in terms of expectations and personal experience of Taiji, Nils managed very quickly to find some common ground and develop a programme which seemed to grow organically from our questions, while it also had a clear structure. A perfect example of a bottom-up approach!
We enjoyed the fine balance between theory and practice and also the fact that the programme had more depth than breadth. We have gained a better understanding of some of the things we do in our training and learnt a number of exercises that we can practise to strengthen our foundation … until Nils’ next visit, which we are already looking forward to.
By the way, Nils’ sites contain a wealth of information about Taiji and push hands. Do visit them!
Just having a quick rest
I’m pushing, but …
The workshop in full swing
Grounded like a grand
An ending and a new beginning
A smile is worth a thousand words
It feels different now …
These four photos stubbornly refused to get rotated:
Dear Tai Chi Friends,
We are delighted to let you know that since just over a week ago, we – the Taiji Quan ‘Zhao Youbin’ club from Podgorica – are a member of the Taijiquan and Qigong Federation for Europe (TCFE).
We are the 20th European country to join the Federation:
So we can now be proud to be part of a network of Taiji and Qigong practitioners across Europe, motivated by the wish to continue developing our practice, our understanding of the internal arts, and the quality of the teaching and learning that’s taking place in our club.
Besides, together with other members, we can share ideas and find ways of getting an ever increasing number of people interested in Taiji, so they too can enjoy and benefit from this ancient art.
Onwards and upwards!
From a historical and functional perspective, Taiji Quan belongs to the ancient Chinese tradition of strategy and the art of fighting. It is interesting to note that even in the Tao Te Ching (Daode jing), a number of passages deal with strategy.
However, one must not forget that the concept of fighting in Chinese tradition cannot be reduced to the idea of a punch-up with a real opponent. Fighting also means struggling with all the difficulties that we encounter in our daily life, fighting our inner demons, etc. It is often said that we are our own greatest enemy, and somehow I think in many ways we would do well to keep this thought in mind whenever we reflect on the purpose of push hands (tui shou).
Practising the Taiji Quan “set” (8, 28, 85, etc) can be seen as a way to gradually build up inner strength, which can then be further developed during partner work. Besides, partner work enables us to become more sensitive, more perceptive; we discover ourselves and our partner and how we are when we interact with others.
The point is not to be stronger than our partner, but rather to form a whole together, to be in harmony. We and our partner complement one another and want to preserve that harmony. So our hands need to become more and more sensitive, so that even if only our hands and forearms are in contact, we can perceive the slightest change or movement in our partner’s body. Eventually, this enables us to guess our partner’s intention before the actual body movement takes place.
I am currently reading Taiji Quan – art martial, technique de longue vie by Catherine Despeux (Guy Trédaniel 1981), and the thoughts above have been inspired by that book.
If you would like to prepare for Nils Klug’s seminar in September, I highly recommend that you visit
I could not have written such a beautiful introduction to the art of tui shou myself.
Have recently received the 5oth issue of the TCUGB magazine (that’s the Tai Chi Union for Great Britain).
Here is one short excerpt from an article that made me think.
“[…] any teacher will tell you that, if you really want to get to the heart of tai chi, it’s better to learn two or three moves well than to spend your whole life collecting forms and end up a “Jack of all trades, master of none”! Each part contains the whole. You just need to learn how to look and especially how to feel properly.”
The Duan Wei System was set up by the Chinese Wushu Association in conjunction with the National Sport Commission and the Chinese Wushu Research Institute in an effort to provide an international standard for Wushu / Tai Chi gradings. The term Duan means level and Wei means grading. There are nine Duan: Elementary Levels (1 to 3), Intermediate Levels (4 to 6) and Advanced Levels (7 to 9).
Elementary Levels (1 to 3)
If a student is dedicated to their studies, developing their skills through effort and hard work, it is possible to gain a 1st, possibly a 2nd Duan Wei in one year of continuous study if they should pass the required examinations. One must be a full-time student of Chinese martial arts between one to two years before being allowed to test for the 3rd Duan Wei. Average students do not acquire these levels easily though, usually attaining only one level per year of continuous study.
Intermediate Levels (4 to 6)
These levels are for students and teachers of Wushu who are able to instruct and have undergone many years of study and/or coaching experience, depending on the level applied for. In order to obtain a 4th Duan Wei, the least amount of time required to apply for the test is two years of continuous, full-time study. One must be able to teach, to use one’s skills in combat and above all, practise good moral conduct to attain 4th Duan Wei. From the 5th Duan Wei application onwards, there must be proof of either: training of your own Duan Wei level tested students, publications, instructional DVDs, or scientific research in your chosen martial art. After obtaining the 6th Duan Wei, one may start to use the title of Master. The 6th Duan Wei is also the highest technical grade.
Advanced Levels (7 to 9)
These prestigious Duan Wei level ranks are reserved for the rare few who have attained an excellent reputation through their practice and have done a lot of work to promote martial arts. Such lauded masters may officially use the term “Grand Master” when referring to their title.
Duan Wei 1
Advance / jìn bù 进步 / iskorak:
Deflect, parry, punch / bān lán chuí 搬拦捶 / skretanje, odbijanje i udarac
Retreat / tuì bù 退步 / korak unazad:
Piercing palm / chuān 穿 / prodorni dlan + Push / àn 按 / pritisnuti
“Every effective force issued from our body is met with an equal and opposite force. As we push forward, our back foot pushes us forward and our forward foot acts as a brake by pushing upward and back. If the hands are pushing straight ahead, the center of the back pushes backwards. If we push downward, the top of the head pushes up. When kicking, the kicking foot moves outward while the standing foot is pushed down. It sounds so complicated, yet this is just the natural way that the body deals with such activities. In Tai Chi and other internal arts, we break movements down until they seem very unnatural in order to understand the dynamics involved, then we put them back together in a natural way, with the possibility that we may have corrected any unnatural elements that might have been present before we started our exploration.”
Extract from Michael Gilman’s
[Available on Amazon.]
Something to make us think about the process of experiencing learning Tai Chi (and other related arts) …
Note the play on words as well, by the way. In English, the pronunciation of ‘worrier’ is very close to that of ‘warrior’.
(This drawing is here reproduced with kind permission of the artist, Gemma Correll. Discover her works at: http://www.gemmacorrell.com/).
Here are the links to two quality videos of the Tai Chi set we are practising:
Front view: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kD19fTKTILw
Back view: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHWp14UrI4M
Marc doesn’t perform this set in exactly the same way as we do, but the differences are inconsequential, so just ignore them.
Chungliang Al Huang is regarded by many as one of the greatest Taiji masters of our times.
His book Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain (first published in 1973 by Celestial Arts, now published by Singing Dragon) greatly helped to popularise Taiji in the West. It became an international bestseller and went on to be translated into 14 languages.
To read an excerpt from Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain, go to: https://crnagorataiji.wordpress.com/library/
For a truly inspiring lecture on the philosophy of Taiji by Chungliang, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TSEnoAa39s
Chungliang runs workshops in the USA and also in Europe. This year, he will be in Switzerland at the end of March. For more information, go to: https://www.livingtao.org/seminars-events/events/?p=0
- Uvodni kurs traje tri mjeseca. Počinje 2. februara i završava se 28. aprila.
- Sadržaj kursa: do kraja kursa polaznici će biti upoznati sa Master Zhao Youbinovim osam formi Yang-stila iz Tai Chi Chuan seta, kao i sa cjelokupnom formom ba duan jin (“osam djelova brokata”) iz qigonga. Polaznici će moći da izvode ove forme samostalno u cilju očuvanja i poboljšanja svog zdravlja.
Ukoliko želite da vidite kako izgleda Tai Chi stil koji mi podučavamo , pogledajte našeg Učitelja na
- Mjesto održavanja kursa: Umjetnička škola za muziku i balet „Vasa Pavić“(Novaka Miloševa br.15, Podgorica).
- Vrijeme: svakog utorka i četvrtka od 19:45 do 20:45.
- Instruktor: Lida Vukmanović-Tabaš
- Za više informacija, ili ako želite da se prijavite na kurs, molim vas kontaktirajte Lidu Vukmanović-Tabaš što prije, jer upis je već u toku:
069 155 511 ili 067 283 410
e-mail email@example.com ili firstname.lastname@example.org
- Course content: by the end of the course, participants will be familiar with Master Zhao Youbin’s eight-form Yang-style Tai Chi Chuan set, as well as with the whole ba duan jin (“osam djelova brokata”) qigong form. Participants will be able to perform these forms when practising on their own in order to maintain or improve their health.
If you would like to see the style of Tai Chi that we teach, watch our Master in action at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-n2VW0UW2E
- Course venue: Umjetnička škola za muziku i balet „Vasa Pavić“ (Novaka Miloševa br.15, Podgorica).
- Time: every Tuesday and Thursday, from 19:45 till 20:45.
- Instructor: Lida Vukmanović-Tabaš
- For further information, please contact Lida Vukmanović-Tabaš:
069 155 511 or 067 283 410
e-mail email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org