Our linage or link to traditional Chinese Tai Chi style was a teacher and Chinese doctor called Cheng man Chin, who was invited to America by a group of Chinese businessmen to teach them and their families Tai Chi in the traditional way.
Over time Cheng man Chin’s student base widened to include American students of European origins.
With the death of Cheng man Chin in1975 his students carried on his work. However in the same way that Tai Chi had evolved and developed over past centuries, the students of Cheng man Chin, amended the Tai chi to meet contemporary American needs.
The American poet Linda Broda learnt Tai Chi in this environment, and later came to Britain where she started her own Tai Chi school in Manchester.
It was at this School, together with direct links to the Chinese community living in Britain that Edward Graham-Barrie, a lifelong practitioner of oriental martial arts and philosophy, became attracted to this system of personal development which we call Tai Chi.
After many years of study and practice (including an Honours Degree in Comparative Religion from Manchester University) Edward started to mould the traditional Tai Chi form of movements from Cheng man chin to suit the needs of contemporary British society.
Whilst Edward taught all age groups, there was seen to be a specific need to develop Tai Chi for mature students, who were coming to Tai Chi, as a result of physical, mental or emotional problems developing from living a Western life style.
He called his style “Wendeltrap Tai Chi”. The words derived from Dutch/ Old English to give the idea of joyfully rambling or dancing up a circular staircase, or a spiralling pathway to reach a higher level of being or “be-coming”.
Currently Edward teachers visit four styles of Tai Chi.
The most basic form, and the one most clearly rooted in Cheng man Chin’s form is called “The Dragon Awakens”
The second form has a more forceful energy suitable for self-defence techniques called “The Raging Rhino”. A more gentle version of this is called “The Horn of Plenty”
The third form is rooted more in the mystical world of Faerie, being a complex of gently curling and entwining movements. It is call “The Healing Serpent”.
The Fourth Form is a sword form called “The Fang of the Tiger” whose gentle sweeping movements, without martial intent are enjoyed by all who learn it. The insightful knowledge it give feeds back into the other three empty hand forms of Tai Chi, and gives greater and deeper clarity to those forms of movement.
The four forms of Tai Chi summarised above, together with the special teaching which goes with them, provide a general basis for personal development.
To cater for unique differences and special needs, small classes or workshops, or one-to-one sessions are arranged to focus upon special aspects, and on particular needs.
In addition to the movements of Tai Chi, using the repetitive movements called Chi Gung (Quigong), techniques of massage, touch therapy (often called by its quasi-Japanese name Reiki), and counselling and talking therapies can be brought to bear with great success.
Edward Graham-Barrie is now in his seventies, and whilst he still teaches, increasingly he is letting-go to allow teachers who he has trained to carry on his work, and the long traditions of Tai Chi.