The Inner Dance School of T'ai Chi and Qigong
Grand Master Yang Zhen Ji (China) Grandson of Yang Cheng Fu
Master Wee Kee Jin [New Zealand].
Principal Teacher: Altair de Almeida (Malvern & Internationally).
Area Teacher: Soozie Fernley-Weiner (Crediton, Devon)
For details of local classes, please see News
What is T'ai Chi?
T'ai Chi is an ancient Chinese system of movement. It has developed through the
centuries to promote harmony in body, mind and spirit.
Through a series of calm fluid movements one learns to harmonise with oneself and Nature. You have probably seen documentaries of China, where invariably a short clip is shown of people doing slow, graceful movements in the park. That is the T'ai Chi form. The form is a series of flowing movements linked seamlessly together.
With practice it induces a deep state of relaxation, at the same time sharpening
mental clarity, awareness of oneself and the environment.
T'ai Chi literally translated means 'Supreme Ultimate'. This refers to the attainment of the highest state of body-mind-spirit possible, with diligent practice.
What is Qigong?
Literally translated Qigong means 'the Way of Energy'. Originating roughly 4,000 years ago it predates the more well known T'ai Chi. Until recently Qigong was a closely guarded secret. This was because it was used by warriors to develop strength, vitality and stamina. With the advent of modern warfare, its original purpose was no longer needed. These same dynamic exercises can be used to improve health and vitality,stamina and strength.
Both T'ai Chi and Qigong have been used for many centuries to promote health,
stamina and longevity. The Chinese used their advanced knowledge of body, mind and
spirit which created systems like Acupuncture, to design these exercises. The
exercises work on many levels.
By correct use of the body, better posture hence improved blood circulation and muscle tone are achieved. By focusing the mind, discipline is strengthened, the mental 'chatter' is quietened and stress is thereby reduced. Awareness and perception of energies within the body are developed. All these contribute to a strengthened immune system, hence improved health.
Health is not only an absence of disease. It also encompasses having a positive, 'bright' attitude to life; the ability to change what needs changing and to accept what cannot be changed with equanimity.
The Inner Dance School of T'ai Chi and Qigong
The 'Inner Dance' in the schools name has a dual meaning. We start from the premise that we are all
magnificent Dancers in the Dance of Life, whose magnificence may sometimes by hidden.
By learning to shake off unnecessary negativity we move through to discover unexpected
The second premise is that each person is unique. Discovering our own 'Inner Dance' or Spiritual Way is what life is all about. Through a process of increasing self-awareness we learn to embody our aspirations and move more fully into the world.
The school was founded by Altair de Almeida in 1988, in Malvern.
The following information (in italics) has only been provided as Altair has had various
enquiries as to his background of study in Tai Chi and Qigong. It will be boring to
most people unless one has knowledge of the vast array of teachers and schools available
and wants to know about them.
Starting in 1980, Altair studied for 6 years with the Yang family lineage Master, Master Chu King Hung, in London, England. Chu was an 'indoor student' of Yang Shu Chung, eldest son of the legendary Yang Cheng Fu. It was Yang Cheng Fu that popularised Tai Chi, and his form is the most widely taught in the World.
Over 30 years since he started his love affair with Tai Chi, Altair went on to study with various Tai Chi and Qigong Masters from around the World.
These include Chungliang Al Huang (USA), well known author of Embrace Tiger, return to Mountain, and Zhi Xing Wang (China/UK) In 1992, at an international Tai Chi competition in Ghent, Belgium, Altair entered and won first prize in his weight, in the only Push Hands competition he ever took part in. He realised that such competitions rarely use the Tai Chi principles resorting mostly to strength and speed. At the competition he met and studied with Dr. Shen Hong Xun (China/Belgium), with whom he studied for several years. He was privaleged to meet and study with the late Jou Tsung Hwa(China/USA), author of 'Tao of Tai Chi Chuan'. He also briefly studied with Hsu Yee Chung (Taiwan) and William C.C. Chen (USA), both lineage Masters of the late Cheng Man Ching.
He later went onto study with Taoist lineage Master, Bruce Kumar(BK) Franztis(USA), having previously studied for several years with Brian Cooper (BK's most senior student in the UK). Altair learned the Wu short form from BK in Crete. He found him to be one of the few teachers who divulge the internal mechanics of Tai Chi to his students.
He also studied with Christopher Pei(USA).
In 2000 Altair and his main student travelled to Handan city, China to study, one-to-one with Grand Master Yang Zhen Ji, the second and oldest surviving son of Yang Cheng Fu.
In 2001(a Tai Chi Odyssey!) he was very privaleged to meet and study with Master Wee Kee
Jin (Singapore/NZ). Jin is one of only 4 'indoor students'-hence lineage Masters- of the
late Huang Shen Shyan. Huang had been one of the famous Cheng Man Chings most senior
Altair realised that for the first time ever he had met a Chinese lineage master who was willing to divulge the 'internal teachings' of Tai Chi, normally only taught to indoor students.These include the 5 'Relaxing exercises', created by Huang, which help to embody the Tai Chi principles down to cellular level, rather than it being theoretical knowledge.
He was so impressed in fact with Jins calibre and style of teaching that he released his 20 year journey of study and subsequent teaching of the traditional Yang long form. Instead he has dedicated himself to study and teach Master Jins version of the Yang short form(created by Cheng Man Ching and refined by Huang Shen Shyan) because it encompasses the most profound levels of healing -both body and mind- as well as the self-defence aspects. From time to time, according to demand, Altair teaches the Wu Short form, taught to him by Master Bruce Frantzis because of the special benefits of this form to relieve back and joint problems.
In 2009 Altair was honoured with the title of Vice President of the Tai Chi Union of GB, Britains largest soceity of Tai Chi instructors, for services to the Tai Chi community.
Shown below is a short video of Master Wee Keen Jin demonstrating Push Hands, an aspect of the martial applications of Tai Chi. The object is to use Ch'i, not brute force, hence the ease with which a student is propelled away:
Since 1984 Altair has been guided by various Spiritual Masters and Avatars including the late Barry Long and Mother Meera. He is also an Acupuncturist, Biodanza and Shiatsu practitioner/ teacher.
Our central premise is that when we embrace our 'Inner Dance' we attain peace in ourselves and thus contribute to Peace on Earth.
To embark or deepen our 'Inner Journey', to re-align ourselves with our own 'Inner Dance'.
To become more fully functional Human Beings rather than Human Doings [i.e. living
according to other peoples beliefs rather than our own life experience - the greatest
Using the T'ai Chi Classics - an ancient yet simple set of guidelines as a basis and the Yang form as a platform, we release our assumptions about life, ourselves and each other, and fall into the immediacy of the moment, learning to meet life as-it-is, opening the door to spontaneity and Greater Aliveness. Using the ancient T'ai Chi and Qigong exercises as the main tools Altair also uses Accelerated learning music to enable students to learn faster, making it more enjoyable. Mystery School teachings are shared to enable those who want to deepen their contact with Life,Love,Joy and Peace to do so, without the 'friction of living' one would normally have to endure before these qualities normally surface.Altair also uses his knowledge of Acupuncture and Shiatsu which he has been involved in since 1982,to enhance his students understanding of their body and mind and how to rectify various presenting problems.
This study is a natural development, not a series of techniques. The aim is understanding
and Mastery of Self, not technique.
The Yang form is taught in weekly classes. Students are not pressurised to learn the form in a given period as everything depends on finding the correct attitude of mind, mental and physical relaxation and acceptance of Self, and individuals vary!
The Wu Short form as taught to Altair by Bruce Frantzis (USA) is also taught from time to time.The speciality of this form is the healing of injuries of the joints in particular, and improving health in general.
The Dance of the Five Elements is a not-so-structured form of Tai Chi, that Altair learned from it's creator, Chungliang Al Huang, in the 1980's. The Five Elements are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. In Chinese Medicine these elements encompass the 12 meridians, or energy pathways. Each element has emotions, seasons, tastes, colours, sounds etc connected to them.It is a metaphor of the how the human system is wired up. Through the movements, we learn to balance these elements. For example, the Fire element is linked with Joy, or lack of it! Through the movements we can help increase our sense of Joy, so that it permeates our life.Another element, Metal is linked with structure, like the frame of a house. If our structure is weak, our lives can be without balanced bounderies; we may allow others to regularly run rough-shod over our ideas etc, or the opposite, imposing our will on others- and all the shades in between! Again the movements can help us balance the sharp edges.
The 18 stance Tai Chi-Qigong form (also called Shibashi) is a simplified process that combines the strengths of Tai Chi and Qigong. It covers all the major muscles in the body and all the meridians too.It helps to move Qi or life-force faster than most forms, because each movement is repeated several times. In Chinese medicine, the blockage of Qi is considered to be the cause of dis-ease(more details under Acupuncture). Tai Chi & Qigong help to smooth the flow of Qi and therefore enhance health and wellbeing.The DVD on sale under the product page, covers this form is detail. It is easy to follow at home, as it is presented in 'real time' ie each movement that is performed is followed by the player at home. Both front and side views are shown.
The principal focus of the classes is the form. However Stationary Qigong, Moving Qigong
and in more advanced classes Spontaneous (Fire) Qigong exercises are also taught. These exercises
open specific energy pathways and help to clear mental and emotional blocks.
In advanced classes deeper levels of the form are taught:- 'Open/Closed' form, Spiral Energy form and Chi form.
The Yang family Sword is also taught. This enables students to use the Tai Chi principles with an external instrument.
Partner Work brings a new dimension to the art. Single Push Hands, Double Push Hands, and Bagua [Pa Kua] Qigong are taught. These help the student to become more sensitive and responsive to a partner's movements. It helps to develop the sense of space and timing. With diligent practice the T'ai Chi Jin [internal power] is developed. This is where the self-defence and healing aspects unite.
Ultimately the self-defence and healing aspects of the art cannot be separated. They go hand-in-hand.
To deepen this process day / weekend / fortnightly courses are offered here and abroad. Master teachers from around the world are also invited to teach at special events.
Teacher training is geared to the individual after several years of practice. The T'ai Chi process is a life-long journey always learning and opening to new dimensions and experiences, hence the name 'Supreme Ultimate'.
THE FIVE RELAXING MOVEMENTS
The following are the internal exercises that enable our students to understand the Tai Chi Principles at cellular level.The description here will not be understood by anyone, except those who have been taught the exercises in class.They were ingeniously designed by Master Huang Shen Shyan and transmitted to me by Master Wee Kee Jin.
Relaxing Movement 1
Remain upright in all transitions.
When turning have a spiralling intention into the substantial foot.
When squaring to the front, your awareness rebounds from the substantial foot up through the leg, body, arm and into the fingers.
The changes of weight from one foot to the other should happen simultaneously within the movement.
Relaxing movement 2
At all times the body remains upright with buttock, abdomen and chin drawn in.
Upward and downward movements should be slow and continuous( 2" max)
In the upward movement, on the command 'up', mental awareness travels from the feet to the hips. 2,3,4-commence the movement. Awareness continues to travel to the top of the head.
In the downward movement,, on the command 'down' mental awareness travels down from the head to the hips.2,3,4- commence the physical movement. Awareness continues down from the hips to the 'bubbling well' in the feet.
Relaxing movement 3
The body is upright and central and there is no movement of the head.
When the left hip is drawn in, it should have a downward intention, the awareness flows through the body into the left foot, feel an increase of grounding in the left foot, simultaneously the right arm should swing up from the shoulder, with the shoulder relaxed, elbows dropped and wrist in line with the nose and at nose height.
When the right hip is drawn in, it should have a downward intention, the awareness flows through the body into the right foot, feel an increase of grounding in the right foot, simultaneously the left arm should swing up from the shoulder, with the shoulder relaxed, elbows dropped and wrist in line with the nose and at nose height.
Your focus should be on the side where the hip is being drawn in.
Realxing movement 4
When pushing up:- your awareness should travel from the feet through the legs, hips,body, arms and finger tips. The body should be upright with the buttocks tucked in, arms stretch bacwards and shoulder joints open.
When relaxing down:- the feet relax the the hips relax, the body relaxes, the shoulders relax and the elbows drop.
The mental awareness flows from the head through the neck, then the body, hips, and legs into the bubbling well in the feet.Physically when the hips are in their sockets the mental awareness should flow into the feet. You should feel an increase of grounding in the feet.
When unfolding the upper body, the hips should remain in their sockets.
Relaxing movement 5
The body should remain upright at all times, with the hips and shoulders square to the facing direction.
Forward movement:-is generated by sending mental awareness down to the rear foot, compress the back leg generating an under and forward force, The front hip should remain relaxed in its socket. When the front knee is in line with the front toes, release the compression of the back leg.
Backward movement:- is initiated by relaxing of the hip of the rear leg. Let the awareness flow into the rear foot and feel the increase of grounding of the rear foot into the floor.
When drawing in and pushing out the front foot:- the back hip should remain relaxed in its socket at all times. The harmony of the posture should be maintained.
For more information Contact Altair