Angus Clark is a gifted and
experienced taichi instructor [TCUGB], author, group facilitator and
movement consultant. He has travelled to Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia to develop his art
and was the last westerner to study with the late grandmaster of taichi, Dr Chi Chiang
He is founder/director of Living Movement, based in Devon, UK. His publications include
Complete Illustrated Guide to Tai Chi', Thorsons/Element, 2000 and 'Secrets of Qigong',
The woman's confident walk halted, leaving her in what appeared to be a
pool of surprise and a little uncertainty. I said hello. She had just enough
time to smile, reply, and bounce a quick glance from my neatly parked wellington boots,
[betraying the truth of a dartmoor summer] to my bare feet, raised arms and back to my
face before her walk carried her a little less certainly away through the gap in the 5
foot bracken that created such a secret place.
Well, not that secret really, right next to a footpath, but ......special. One of my
favourite little spots. It's one of those places where gravity's stronger, drawing
me, irresistably. Uplifting, magical.
The spirit of the place makes such a difference. I wonder what it would be like to
do this in a block building? Actually, I remember. That's where I started out my
taichi journey - in my breezeblock room at university. And it was fine. Really
it was OK. Just.......... different.
This morning my feet delight in the soft,warm, dewey sheep cropped grass next to the
stream. There's a moment of cool when a new foot place is found, followed by a deepening
warm - it's delicious. Helps me relax. I feel my feet wanting more, to go
deeper. I allow them to. They like the early morning conversation with the
ground as much as I do.
We start to play. Heavy foot, light foot. They like to take it in turns.
I follow the dance. Feel my body loosening up, opening to this day, to life.
I feel my arms swing, shoulders breathe as the dreams of the night sail away down
the river, into the sky.
A dream hangs in the air for a while - me and my feet have time to consider it, look at it
in the daylight. It's the one where........... I wonder if it will stay or go? It
goes, floating into the clouds perhaps? [They have been known to stay around for days].
Ooh, I love this exercise. It feels so good to breathe deep - this good air. I
wonder how much we have left in the world? Enough for my kids, I hope, and theirs
and theirs and everyone's kids and all of us. Surely we can .......................... ?
And this stretch in my spine. So good at this time of day.
I can feel my insides waking up! So they like it too!
I start to feel that alignment feeling kick in. Thank goodness. It's a regular
visitor these days but still has a mind of its own - if I'm a bit uptight or too busy in
my head then it's reluctant to visit for long. This morning's good though - feet,
ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, spine, head - my bones reach for the sky, anchor me to the
ground. Muscles and organs relax, joining the game, instinctively enjoying this
My body feels solid. Fluid. Solid.
Well, which is it?
Well it's both.
What, one after the other?
No, not really, more like both at the same time - solid like an elephant and grounded like
water in a river. And free to move, like the water. And light like a feather
in the wind.
Oh, sounds odd. Good, though is it?
Yes, very good!
And now I'm feeling that clear focusing. We're becoming still here. Enjoy it -
won't get this still again today, most likely. Feeling vertical, aligned, plugged
in, strong. I wonder how far up this feeling goes? Fair old way I'd say. Up to
the stars. And there's the earth under here - deep, holding, trustworthy - like a
Suddenly several thoughts and ideas click into place for that seminar I'm giving later in
the week. It's all so simple. Creative. Feels like it's related to my body, my
posture, the sky perhaps? Don't be daft. The earth? Oh I dont know -
don't try to figure it out. [I know, but it really is all connected]
"Shushh!" Just let me enjoy this moment - it's so full
So what's it like to move from here, this centered place, this stillness - out into the
world? Let's see. A step, arms alive, eyes offering a road for the spirit
............... here we go - we're away, forward, outward, returning, back to centre,
outward, into the world again. Feels good.
Fast? Wham! That's fun.
Slow? My legs are working now - muscles contracting and relaxing one after the
other. It's so physical. But I must have slept a bit funny - this hip's a
little reluctant to join in this morning. Let's give it some space. Ah, good,
freeing up again. And a sense of some anxiety melting, dissolving.
Ah yes, this is SO taichi! Full, empty, open, closed, .................... rhythmic,
changing. This is what they were on about, the taoist lot from thousands of years
back - you know the yin and yang stuff. Everythings always changing. Night to
day, winter to summer, changing, but with rhythm. Rhythm .............. that's it,
that's where the harmony is. And here, right now my body is changing - heartbeat,
inbreath, outbreath, solid, fluid, light, heavy. And I can feel the rhythm, the
balance, the harmony. It's like I'm really tuning in to my own balance but it's also
bigger than this. I'm feeling something about nature, the world, the planets
Yes, I know it's cosmic but...................
It's real and it's here and now. Natural. That's what I'm embodying here,
natural way, the old taichi, taoist philosophy. Tao, the way. Natural way -
listening to the way and joining with rather than fighting against. It feels ancient
and present all at the same time. I like that. Connecting with people from
thousands of years ago with this exploration, continuing on this thread of discovery.
It's like I discover a little more movement every time I practice.
Movement. No movement, no life. Imagine if there was no movement! Everything
so scared or embarrassed that it froze right up. Planets, atoms and all. No
wind, no water, no messages. That's a funny thought. For us humans movement's a
birthright. Imagine how much we all moved in our mothers' wombs. And then as
What about now? Good point.
Well this feels good. I know that much.
Two faces appear from around the bracken corner : the pink and grey one belongs to the
woman; the shiny, black hairy one [ and sporting a fabulous new collar] ..... her dog.
Time to move on. A busy day ahead.
But I love it when they start like this!!