Howard teaches Chi Gung and traditional Chen style Tai chi. Tai chi has numerous health benefits as well as applications and techniques for improving posture, balance and even self defence. Regular attendance at class will see students progress through a number of different forms and exercises, gaining a deeper understanding and control of their own bodies, combined with a natural way to relax and allievate stress.
Tai chi beginners classes start regularly in Winchester and new learners are always very welcome indeed. Tai chi is accessible to people of all ages and fitness levels and requires no special equipment. For people totally new to my classes, I offer an introductory free taster session with no obligation. Please just contact me using the form on my website for more information, and I will be delighted to help you.
St Peter's Church,
St Peter Street,
|£10 per class|
|£8 per class|
Howard teaches tai chi beginners classes in Winchester (see table above). Experience shows that the it is a more rewarding experience for beginners to join at the same point thereby creating a friendly peer group to learn together. There are therefore a number of start dates throughout the year, where people new to tai chi are encouraged to start. However, if you have some experience of tai chi, it may also be possible to join in the classes outside of these times.
Beginners classes cost £8 each and are run as blocks of 10 weeks *. Payment is due in advance on the first week of each new block and can be paid in cash, by cheque or online transfer/standing order. Payement in blocks in advance is designed to foster a sense of commitment and motivation, but of course people occasionally have other things booked in the diary. In these cases, people can let me know the dates of absence at the first class of the block, and I'm happy to reduce the fees pro-rata.
Before running the beginners class there will be an opportunity to attend a free "tai chi taster" class that will follow broadly the same structure as a normal class with a bit of extra introduction. These classes are free and are intended as a "try before you buy" scheme, as for many people this will be their first experience of tai chi. Free taster classes also available to people who have experience of tai chi and are considering joining this class.
Please contact me for more specific information as I would be delighted to answer any questions or add you to the mailing list.
Tai chi classes require no special equipment or clothing. For your first class it is advisable to wear loose fitting, comfortable clothes, such as T-shirts and tracksuit bottoms, along with trainers or other comfortable shoes. The aim is to ensure that you can bend, stretch and move your body without being restricted by your clothing in any way. Choose comfort over style! It is also a good idea to bring along a small bottle of water.
Classes follow a rough format of some general warm-ups and loosening followed by the core foundation exercises (called silk reeling). The second half of the class will then move on to learning and practising the tai chi form, starting at the beginning and gradually adding new movements as the classes progress. Finally the class will end with some relaxing and meditative chi gung exercises.
Some weeks we will spend more time on focusing on particular exercises, postures or sequences and classes do not stick rigidly to the above format. Other aspects of tai chi are also taught such as partner work (push hands), tai chi walking exercises, stretching, meditation and some basic self defence applications. After you have been studying tai chi for a few years, there will also be the opportunity to learn some classical weapons forms using a Chinese sword (safe retractable or wooden ones are available to begin with!)
Tai chi is an ancient Chinese martial art and exercise system, thought to have originated in Taoist monasteries on Wudang Mountain, perhaps as long ago as the 12th century. Legend has it that it was originally created as a kind of moving meditation in order to stop the monks wasting away and maintain a basic level of fitness. Around the 15th century it was integrated into Chinese kung fu traditions, and became what we know today as tai chi. It has been passed down through the generations relatively unchanged over the last 600 years, until recently as guarded secrets of particular families or clans.
Tai chi benefits both health and fitness, and is generally characterised by slow flowing and graceful movements. It relies on technique, balance and softness. It is suitable for all ages and can be practised martially with a view to its applications for self-defence, or with the focus as a gentle exercise system which promotes health and relaxation. Tai chi is called an internal martial art which means that the attention and intentions of the practitioner is directed inwardly to their own bodies. This is as opposed to external martial arts such as karate where force and awareness is directed externally towards an opponent.
True tai chi forms a complete exercise system incorporating stretching, strength training, coordination and muscle tone. Essentially it is a solo practice based around a sequence of movements (called a tai chi hand form) each of which trains a different aspect of movement or part of the body. The beauty of the art is that it has dual benefits of both health and practical applications, from simply improving balance to a complete fighting system. Tai chi training also includes partner work, where the emphasis is on the sensitivity and empathy. Equally there are a large number of weapons forms (swords being the most common). Although these obviously originated out of military needs in ages past, they still serve to train hand eye coordination.
Tai chi has been refined and improved over the centuries and is therefore the culmination of a huge amount of intellectual effort. Moreover it was originally a matter of life and death, and so has been extremely well tested with inefficiencies or superfluous components removed. Although tai chi is frequently described in terms of Chinese medicine and philosophy theory, including "chi energy", it is not necessary to understand or accept these definitions to practice. Chinese medicine is not better or worse than Western medicine, it is simply a different perspective. As tai chi has its origins within the Chinese culture, some of the concepts are not immediately apparent to those of us brought up in Western culture. It is important to recognise that this is only a cultural difference, rather than a difference between “science” and “superstition”, a misunderstanding that frequently stops people from trying for themselves.
Since the tai chi system of exercise is suitable for people of all ages (being particularly popular with older generations) and requires little or no special equipment, it has gained an enthusiastic reception all over the world. The number of tai chi practitioners worldwide is now phenomenal, and has grown exponentially since the 60s when the "veils of secrecy" first started to be lifted. When performed in a slow and relaxed manner, the tai chi hand form offers a balanced and gentle workout for the body's muscles and joints. The complex yet subtle movements help to develop concentration and a tranquil state of mind. Deep breathing helps to promote greater oxygenation of the blood and improve circulation generally. If practised regularly, tai chi can form the basis for an ideal preventative healthcare regime to enhance longevity and happiness.
Tai chi is split into a number of different "styles" of which there are five major traditional ones (Chen, Yang, Wu, Sun and Wu/Hao). All of the styles have a great deal in common, with the same philosophy and fundamentals, but each have a slightly different emphasis and history. As an analogy, you can think of styles as being similar to denominations (Catholic, Methodist, CoE etc) in Christianity; each one is distinct yet they all share a common set of core principles, and to an external observer, the differences may appear quite subtle.
Chen style is the oldest and original style of tai chi, from which all the other styles derive and branched off at various points in history. To this day, the home of Chen style is still "Chen village" in China, who's inhabitants were renowned for their martial arts ability. Chen style is the most external of the internal tai chi styles, with many of its movements having much more obvious martial arts application compared to other styles. Chen style is also characterised as being very low and having the most variable speed, i.e. although it is predominantly slow, there are occasional fast "fa-jing" movements.
Chen style is itself split into a number of sub styles, with even more subtle distinctions between them. Broadly there are big frame/small frame old-style/new style. I teach old-style, big frame, which is as close as it is possible to get to "original tai chi". That is not to say that this is the "best" style - each style has strengths and weaknesses and are simply different.
In my opinion, Chen style is the most complete style and learning system. This is because there are a number of foundation exercises (called silk reeling) that capture the core principles of the longer tai chi forms. Equally there are a large number of advanced weapons forms, all of which work together and enhance one another as an integrated system. This coherence of progression is the great strength of Chen style. Its weakness is that it can be more physically demanding than the other styles, which may put off people who are primarily interested in relaxation.
Finally I will reiterate that the differences between the styles are very subtle, and to all intents and purposes are irrelevant for someone completely new to tai chi. In the first few years of learning tai chi your choice of style is insignificant and the skills that you learn will be directly transferable should you choose to switch.
Chi gung (also spelt Qigong, Chi Kung and Ch'i Kung) is a powerful system of healing and energy medicine that originated from China. It is the art and science of using breathing techniques, gentle movement, and meditation to cleanse, strengthen, and circulate the energy.
Chi gung translates as 'energy/breath exercises' or 'energy/breath work'. It is a term which encompasses many disciplines developed over thousands of years (documented history goes back approximately 2,500 years) and ranges from systems that consist largely of standing still to dynamic systems including tai chi. The common thread is the objective of developing strength and power of mind and body, without exhausting and straining the body in the process.
There are many benefits derived from practising chi gung, and they may be generalized into the following five categories:
Chi gung encompasses a large variety of both physical and mental training methods designed to help the body and the mind based on Chinese philosophy. There are many types of chi gung practice, but it can normally be recognized as a series of carefully choreographed movements or gestures that are designed to promote and manipulate the flow of energy within the practitioner’s body. To an external observer, the series of movements are similar to calisthenics or other types of athletic endeavor. To the qigong practitioner, the practice requires a unity of mind, body and spirit with the aim of promoting and controlling the flow of chi.
My name is Dr Howard Tripp and I am the founder of SpiralWise Tai Chi based in Winchester. I have been training in tai chi since 1999, and since 2004 under the direct tutorage of Master Wang Hai Jun, who is an official lineage holder of Chen style tai chi (12th Generation).
I am a Grade A qualified instructor with the Tai Chi Union of Great Britain, and have run my own classes since 2011 having taught informally as a senior student before that for many years. Teaching an internal art like tai chi is extremely rewarding both because the subtlety makes it challenging and because you only discover how well you know something when you try and explain it! I therefore enjoy continuously trying to improve my effecitvness as a teacher, which of course means trying to better recognise the needs of my students.
I teach and predominantly train in authentic and traditional chen style tai chi chuan. However over the years I have trained and practised with many other styles and teachers, from whom I have learnt a great deal. Other styles/disciplines that I occasionally incoporate into my teaching include Spiralling chi gung, Gao style Bagua, and Yang style.
I also actively pursue a number of other mind/body/wellbeing activities and classes including Yoga, Pilates and Meditation, which I feel all compliment my tai chi practise, and more generally my life!