The answer is Martin Gale who decided to learn Kung Fu after he faced a gang of potential muggers, even though he was carrying a white stick. Following this incident, Martin enrolled at a school headed by a former Hong Kong police officer, Master Michael Tse, who was himself taught by a famous family of Kung Fu exponents that had taught the legendary Bruce Lee.
Regular readers of Qi Magazine and members of the Tse Qigong Centre will know that Martin is a regular columnist for Qi Magazine and also a senior instructor for the Tse Qigong Centre. Martin's life has been an amazing journey When he was only ten years old he developed a brain tumour. This was treated at Liverpool's famous Alder Hey hospital and whilst the treatment saved his life it cost him his eyesight.
Those of us who never face anything like this often wonder how people can recover from it, but in reality many do, because they have to. What makes Martin so unique however, is the way in which he
goes for his dreams and does not let anything hold him back. His story is quite fascinating and he was recently invited to tell it on Liverpool's City Talk FM radio. He was interviewed by Dean Sullivan (Dean is the actor who played Jimmy Corkhill on the long running soap opera "Brookside"). Dean talked to Martin about how he had moved from his home in the Isle of Man to Manchester, to train in Wing Chun and Qigong and how this had taken him all around the world and back again to Liverpool, where he is now teaching classes. He was amazed at Martin's determination and quick sense of humour.
Life has many ups and downs. All we can do is keep going. Martin Gale is a good example to us all. Martin says, "Finding Qigong and Wing Chun and my Sifu, MasterMichael Tse, changed my life and gave me confidence in myself."
Q. As a beginner in Wing Chun can I buy a wooden Dummy and practise on it?
A. No, doing this will damage your Wing Chun skill. With everything we train weshould followthe system, especially if it is old traditional skill. Weshould follow until we reach the same high standard as our Sifu. Before this we should not change anything. Wing Chun training begins with Siu Lim Tao, Tsum Kiu and then Biu Tze. After these we can learn the Wooden Dummy. This is the traditional way and it is like this because our skill begins by developing soft hands and sensitivity, then we correct our hands, the last thing we develop is power. A lot of people begin by training power and in the end they lose their soft hands and sensitivity. This is sad. Wing Chun Kung Fu is different from other Kung Fu or martial arts. Most begin with power so very quickly they become strong, but then they always rely on strength to beat the opponent. It becomes the strong and big person beats the small and weaker opponent; this is not the way of Wing Chun Kung Fu.
Wing Chun's principle is "Soft controls the Hard W.StliW'l" If is a very clever skill and so we do not make the body strong first. Even in the end we do need strength but we should not be stiff. Once you become stiff then it is hard for your Sifu to correct your mistakes. I call it "Crooked Nail," because the nail is crooked is very hard to straighten it and hammer it in again. So we should begin by developing gentle and correct hands first then later we can develop Gong Lik J J, which is internal strength and it can be controlled. We need to learn step by step and not rush to develop power too quickly. Then you will reach a high level of Wing Chun which you will be able use when you are older. Then you will be effective against someone even stronger and faster than you.
Q. I have shoulder problems, what exercises are good for this?
A. I have answered this questions many times, but as a teacher it does not matter as it is my job to clear up any questions and also this way more people and students will know the answers to the common questions. If you have learnt Balancing Gong there are exercises called "Beautiful Woman turns the Waist", "Big Bear Stretching" and "Rock extends the Wings". These are very good for the shoulders. However, there are also exercises to work on any problems we may have. The more we practise, the more Qi we will have and so we can recover more easily.
Q. Why do I always feel better practising Qigong in class than when I practise at home on my own? p
A Practising Qigong with nature is good, because the nature gives us natural Qi, which is very good for the body. The second way is to practise with healthy people. Of course in class there will be more healthy people around a nd a ll o f yo u ar e working for good health. This way all the people bring up good Qi. Also because you have the same thinking you will bring up even more good Qi. This way everyone in the class will benefit more. If we practise and there are people around who do not practise Qigong and have all kinds of emotions, then this will also effect our Qi. Thus the improvement will be slower or even disturbed. This is the reason a lot of Qigong Masters will go to a very quiet place, in the country side or up on a mountain to practise by themselves. Today, we cannot just go to a place to practise Qigong all the time, so classes are the best second choice.
Q. I find I easily forget things. What can I do to help this?
A. Nowadays, we live very busy lives and we have no time to settle down. In particular the brain, is never settled and so we are thinking all the time, which makes us old and ill. We need time to calm down and think of nothing. While we practise Qigong we cannot think of other things, because our concentration is on the practise and our mind will be calm and settled. This gives time for the brain to arrange all other things in your mind, which is a little bit like a computer, the more things on the computer the more easily problems can happen. Unlike a computer we cannot put more memory into our brains, so if the brain has too many things to think about, it will automatically arrange all your memory and it will keep what is important and get rid of those that are not important things (or those things that are used
a lot and forget those things that are rarely used). Of course it depends on what the person wants. That is why today even young people have memory problems. Usually older people lose their memories because the brain cell is deteriorating. When we practise Qigong we maintain the body and the brain, so a lot of Qigong masters, even when they are very old still have very good memories.
New Double Compartment Carry Case
With the increased sensitivity to swords it is important to make sure that, if you are learning straight sword or broadsword, you have a suitable case for transporting your weapons to and from class.
In light of this the Tse Qigong Centre has released a weapon case that unlike most others is roomy enough for two straight swords and a broadsword! Two full length zippered compartments easily and safely contain the weapons and there are two additional, external pockets for keys and other items.
The case is silk screened with the Tse Qigong Centre logo and the Chinese calligraphy of Michael Tse which says, "Simple and Natural" this being his life motto. The case is made of black toughened nylon with extra chunky zippered closings. The cases are available now to buy on our website www.tseqigongcentre.com (please note the weapons featured in the photo above are not included).
Teaching in Duncan, Canada is always a treat as it has all that one could want for good health...mountains, clear running rivers and ocean, good people, fresh air. In Duncan, we have been fortunate the last two years to have fine weather so that we could hold the Damo Staff seminar outside on a grass airfield, surrounded by
Damo Staff pine trees and river at the back and a meadow in the front.
It is always interesting to see how people's complexions, their emotions change over the course of the seminar. Often, people come from working hard all week and have lots on their minds. By the end of the first day, their eyes are already clearer, they have colour in their face and their minds are calmer. By the finish of the seminar on the second day, everyone is usually tired but satisfied with having learned well and done their best, all in the best of company.
The Damo Staff is a challenging form but everyone, from age 16 to age 60 found that they could manage and enjoyed it a lot. It is often the first time
that people will have handled a weapon and it can be interesting trying to spin the staff and move in the form at the same time. Although in the past the staff was a popular weapon, now we do not really use it for this purpose. Rather, we use it for improving our health, our brain co-ordination and our circulation and posture. The staff has helped many people with arthritis to improve their condition because it creates heat in the body. When the Qi is stagnant, blockages will form and this can mean that a lot of toxins begin to collect in the bones and joints. In order to get rid of these toxins we need to move more and create heat in the body and in this way, we can release the blockages.
If you want a strong house, the first thing you must have is a strong foundation. So in Hawaii, we began our
polishing seminar with the Tse Qigong Centre Warm Up exercises and then Balancing Gong before moving on to more advanced forms. When it comes to the more basic exercises, like Balancing Gong, I am always interested to see the questions that people will ask and also to see how students respond to questions asked of them. Many times it becomes obvious that they are missing understanding of Balancing Gong's principles, however, not this time. Everyone could answer that Balancing Gong worked for the posture and relaxation. Itwas a bit tricker answering what form in the Kunlun system that the Balancing Gong principles were based
upon. Finally, a lone voice answered, "Wild Goose Qigong". That is why when we get the Balancing Gong right, our Wild Goose Qigong will be better and will also have relaxation, which is vital for good health.
We also worked with polishing Xing Shou which is not an overly long form but one that can easily lose some its crispness and clarity when we do not often see our Sifu's form. So this took nearly the last hour of the seminar as there were many questions and eagerness to get it right. With everyone so positive, definitely everyone's skill will improve. We concluded the seminar with Wing Chun's Chi Sau at everyone's request and after rolling with everyone, it was good to see everyone's level improving each time. One of the most important parts for Chi Sau is practising with a partner and the more hands one can touch in class, the better one can be.
The Cotton Palm seminar began with a challenge. When we arrived we found the room was being decorated.
The Cotton Palm Form is based on the Taiji Symbol which reflects the fact that 'life is change' and so our first test was to adapt smoothly to our lack of venue. Our seminar leader, Sihing Darryl Moy, negotiated a compromise with the decorator whereby he was able to continue working and we were able to begin our seminar, though we spent most of the seminar outside in the cherry tree garden practising.
We were given a very illuminating explanation of the meaning and function of the Taiji symbol. When we began to learn the form we discovered that it too was full of spiral movement, turning, stepping and postures that echoed the Taiji symbol.
As with learning any new form, the challenge lies not so much following the movements during the seminar, but remembering them afterwards, especially the detail. well, I have had a couple of very busy weeks since then with little or no time to practise but amazingly I can remember the form as if I learnt it yesterday - what does that say? Good teaching! So thank you Sihing Darryl for a truly enlightening and enjoyable seminar.
At the end of May/beginning June New York City and New Jersey students were treated to the first part of Kunlun 28 Constellation Gong which has never been offered here before. Some students from Taiji or Wing Chun backgrounds were really surprised to learn a Qigong form as they, like most people, were only used to seeing Qigong as individual exercises, and they felt especially fortunate as this form contains some martial art elements and energy within it causing them to feel a little more familiar and comfortable learning it. But as Master Tse often says, "Qigong and martial arts at the highest levels are not separate".
28 Constellation Gong in NY
Following Master Tse
Everyone picked up the skill really well in no small part due to Sifu's clear teaching method, honed from decades of knowing what works best in group situations.The course was well-attended and well received, and each day began with a stimulating, entertaining and educational talk and culminated each evening with the customary blow-out Chinese feast.
After the weekend course was over, some students got to take full advantage of their Sigong's time here and spent it at the Polishing class as well as Wing Chun the night after that. The Polishing class afforded students the opportunity to clarify certain principles as well as the rare chance to observe their
Sigong performing Wild Goose, Chen Taijiquan, and Damo Staff as well as an opportunity to do some extra push-hands. It was also a good opportunity for students from different far away classes to come togetheras a family and be connected.
The Wing Chun class the night after was enjoyed by everyone. One new lady student found it extremely useful and practical in its simplicity as a self-defence. Some regular Taijiquan students enjoyed the different approach to training sensitivity that Wing Chun
provides - different from the push-hands they are used to - while the Wing Chun students were grateful for the opportunity to touch hands with their Sigong and feel his energy and correct positions.
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A lot of us run through the day with so many responsibilities that we don't have even an instant to treat ourselves. Coping with deadlines at work, attending to the kids, replying to that demanding client we respond and react to the needs of other people. It's time to do a few merciful things to reward yourself and get your health in order.