One Year Notes from Mike Menzies New Zealand

by Yuxin Liu on 2020/10/10

A few days ago my Tai Chi Practical Method teacher here in Queenstown, NZ took this video of me to mark exactly one year of practice for me in the Practical Method. I am one of Yuxins foundation members. Prior to starting on the Practical method my only Tai Chi experience was approximately one year of Yang style.

I visited China for a most wonderful holiday about 15 years ago. Everywhere I went there I saw big groups of people in parks doing what I later found out was Tai Chi. I would stand there and watch fascinated and thought one day I am going to try that. Well I semi retired and shifted to Queenstown about three years ago and searched for Tai Chi classes but all anyone offered was Yoga. Everyone told me to do yoga but I didn’t want to do Yoga. I wanted to do Tai Chi. I eventually found a few people that were teaching Yang style including Yuxin. Then by a stroke of luck or good fortune or ‘universe planning’ Yuxin introduced her class to the Practical Method. Well here we are 12 months on and I have fully embraced it.

My background is nothing to do with martial arts. I have been a mad keen sports person my whole life. My major sport was sailing and that took me to many places in the world. I have also been, at various times in my life, active in athletics, rugby, surfing, triathlons, marathons, kayaking and in more recent years mountain biking and stand up paddling. Weight training was also a big part of many of those sports. So I love challenges and getting involved and this last year Tai Chi has taken centre stage.

You know, Tai Chi is nearly like another language to me. I relate it to my sailing career. I was brought up in boats and sailing and racing. When one is born into something it is in their blood for life. Like salt water through the veins. I met people that came into sailing later in life and they never had the in ground depth that people had if born into it. I figure Tai Chi to me is much the same. I have come in late and have barely scratched the surface. So much to absorb and try to understand it sometimes seems very daunting and like I say, a foreign language, but interestingly, not so much that I can’t accept the challenge of learning some new and stimulating. The spice of life.

You will all be well aware of this no doubt as I am sure I am not the only one, but I find the Practical Method very challenging. Totally different to anything else I have ever done physical wise. Personally I find it very intricate and difficult but also very rewarding. There is so much to take in as regards everything from the tips of ones fingers to the tips of ones toes and ones head and everything in between. I have started later in life so one could say we are partly handicapped to start with!!! Many joints were very difficult to move initially but one year on I have found vast improvement in many areas (not all unfortunately due to my weight training and some previous sports injuries) but overall I am much more flexible and supple than one year ago. (mightn’t look like it in the video but Yuxin assures me I have improved immensely and I will buy into that). My balance is better, flexibility, strength in certain areas and I am convinced I have better blood flow through my body and especially to the soles of my feet. Getting the joints to move must be the key I suspect. This Tai Chi is also brilliant for the brain. The concentration to remember the moves, try to remember all the moves within the moves (fingers, wrists, elbows, shoulders, rotating etc etc). Very intricate and you know, I think it is quite addictive. I do up to two hour sessions and then take a break and then I find a few hours later I get an urge to practice various bits and pieces or do another half hour or so. I was brought up in life to do things once and do them properly and Tai Chi certainly brings that out. As mentioned above, I have started very late in life to try to get as competent as I can in something that is very involved and mentally stimulating and it gives me a wonderful feeling. I know it is a fighting style martial art but I find the training, application and physical and mental benefits quite enough for me although if I ever need to defend myself …………

Because of Yuxin we had the please of meeting Master Chen here in NZ earlier this year (we had all been going only about four months and we must have all been terrible – well much more terrible than now!!!). That was a wonderful experience and we hope to see you again one day Master. I would love to go to the mountains and train there. I think that would be the most wonderful experience but with the world we all live in at present that just sits on the back burner for now. I must say though as some compensation, I thoroughly enjoy the Zoom meetings each Tuesday and Thursday (our times). It is great to observe so many people from different parts of the world and different levels of achievement. I am learning off all of you. I am a visual person so I always need to see how to do things first then it is great the way Master Chen breaks down moves and explains things more intricately and I then start to understand more.

Decided to do this because it is fascinating how we can all learn off each other and hopefully my contribution is interesting. I enjoy the Facebook posts of the Zoom group. Doug gave us all his very interesting background the other day and I found that a fascinating read and Simon posts interesting little clips for comment. Yuxin sees many things to work on with me and I welcome other observations as well. Till next time and more flexibility, stability, isolation, rotation etc etc ……….

Mike Menzies

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Chen Zhonghua October 11, 2020 at 11:38 am

Thank you mike for this writing and the video. Indeed we can see you have make tremendous progress. In practical method, we start with simple, segmented moves in order to learn and to check. You are certainly following the right procedure.


Mike Menzies October 11, 2020 at 2:11 pm

Hey thank you Master Chen. Much appreciated and of course I am indebted to Yuxin for her attention to detail and forever guiding and coaxing me.


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