Natural Way T'ai Chi School

Some Background information on Alan Peck

I began studying t'ai chi in London in 1977 at the age of 29. I was living in a commune and one of my friends, Michael Spink, returned from living in France to try to find a t'ai chi teacher. He found John Kells who lived a semi reclusive life, devoted to his t'ai chi practice.

When we both began studying t'ai chi with John he had previously spent some years studying with Dr. Chi Chiang Tao and before that with Master T. T. Liang. Both these masters were senior students of Prof. Cheng Man-Ching.

Michael and I were some years later to become teachers of t'ai chi ourselves since we both quickly fell under the magical spell of t'ai chi practice and wanted to share this with everyone. Richard Farmer who was also living in the same commune became a student of Master Kells and then left to start the Rising Dragon School in Wales. John Kells founded the British T'ai Chi Ch'uan Association and I became the Course Director.

At the same time as I started t'ai chi I also began to engage with Tibetan buddhism. John had found a tibetan meditation master living in Bromley called Venerable Geshe Damchos Yonten. Every Saturday John arranged for students to have an opportunity to receive teachings from Geshe-la and slowly the huge cultural differences began to fall away to reveal a profound understanding of how to transform the mind and create causes for profound happiness.

Also, around this time, I began studying with a remarkable man, Bob Moore. He was remarkable because he was able to see subtle energy around people and had gone through a process of opening and transformation using meditations and exercises which he shared with others in the groups that he held in London and Denmark. His approach incorporated the use of chakras and energy streams around the body to bring forward emotional blockages.

I worked with him for two years and found the experience touched me very deeply. It was a doorway to a process of connecting beyond the emotional blocks that normally prevent us from realising our fully human qualities. There was a shift in sensitivity and a recognition of the more subtle manifestations of ch'i.

I studied t'ai chi intensively - seven days a week. I began assisting my teacher and taught for four hours five nights a week and usually practised alone with my teacher for an hour or so after the lessons. I attended extra classes at weekends. It became a way of life. I enjoyed the intensity and the increasing fulfilment.

John Kells travelled extensively trying to find other teachers. He eventually had an introduction to Chu Gin Soon in Boston, USA who was the second disciple of the late Yang Sau Chung - son of the father of the Yang style - Yang Cheng Fu. He studied with him for a time and then went to Hong Kong to study with Yang Sau Chung himself. After this visit John moved away from the forms he had learnt from Dr. Chi and began to develop his own style. I could not follow his path because I was attracted to the emphasis which Dr. Chi gave to 'the natural' and continued to practise Dr. Chi's forms.

Geshe Damchos-la left Bromley and went to take up residence at a Centre in Wales. Later he encouraged me to move to Bristol to teach t'ai chi. I trusted his wisdom and moved. Geshe-la visited Bristol regularly and so I was able to continue receiving teachings. The Lam Rim Buddhist Centre in Wales was able to bring several very high lamas over to from India to give teachings. Teachings I received from the very venerable Kyabje Tsong Rinpoche and the very venerable Pema Gyaltsen Rinpoche were especially powerful influences to turn my mind towards a Buddhist path.

I started the Natural Way T'ai Chi School with two classes per week teaching the basic practice. Some time later I decided to go and study with Dr. Chi in Vancouver, Canada. It was the year of the Expo, 1986. I stayed with Dr. Chi in his house and had lessons six days a week. On many days I had two lessons and often for two hours at a time.

Dr. Chi was excited by the fact that I enjoyed pushing hands and wanted to help me reach a higher level. So in the morning I studied forms and in the afternoon practised pushing hands. In between lessons I practised continuously to assimilate the wonderful lessons.

After three days he announced that he would teach me 'the big secret.' It took some time before I realise that actually the 'big secret' was simply to learn the correct understanding of t'ai chi principles and know how to put them into practice using the mind and ch'i.

Dr. Chi explained the stages of development of practice and told me that he was at the last level of the first stage and was beginning to get insight into the second stage. It was a surprise to me to learn that the name of last level of the first stage is 'Natural Way.' I had chosen this name for the school without knowing this fact. It was both auspicious and encouraging.