My first introduction to the Martial arts (except the usual Kung Fu Movies) was in 80’s when I attended a few Aikido classes at a local community Centre. I really enjoyed them (who doesn’t love Steven Segal) but wanted something my wife could also be involved with and due to her bad back, we had to rule this out. Next I tried ‘Kung Fu’ only to find the teacher wasn’t actually that good and had combined a little Karate and Wing Chun.
Disheartened, I looked everywhere I could think, even night school classes. Never really fancied Karate and that seemed to be all that was on offer at the time…. Jenny noticed Tai Chi popping up in the night schools a lot but knew nothing about it. Rather than just sign up this time we read Danny Conner’s book on Tai Chi. THIS IS IT..!! Wow… Tai Chi seemed to offer everything I had hoped from a martial art… Now came the search…..
As Yang Cheng Fu said “Not all Tai Chi is the real Tai Chi”. I was amazed at what was out there purporting to be this wondrous art I was looking for. Of all the schools I investigated, only Richards Farmers Rising Dragon school came anywhere close, but did not offer the martial aspects I had hoped for. I even phone Earl Montague in Australia a few times. I wrote to and read all the martial mags I could find and eventually there it was … Nigel Sutton’s Zhong Ding Taiji Association.
After that I attended every course I could with Nigel, I even competed the day after my wedding and came back with a black eye (my wife was very understanding). In 1991 I was invited to train in Malaysia and Singapore. Completing my discipleship with Nigel Sutton opened many doors for me as I was now accepted into the ‘family’ in the traditional Chinese way. In 1991, and my subsequent yearly visits, I trained intensively with Tan Ching Ngee in Singapore, Ko Ah Tee in KL, Malaysia, Wu Chiang Hsing in BP, Malaysia, Liang He Ching in Muar, Malaysia and Tan Seow Theng in JB. Malaysia.
I was asked me to open a class in Birmingham in 1992. Although I did not feel my standard was yet good enough I did so; on the plus side it meant that Zhong Dong had a venue to teach workshops in Birmingham and I had the opportunity for extra training. From mid ’93 to ’95 I was acting head of Zhong Ding (while Nigel was out of the country). We held regular meetings and ran a camp in Torquay, which was very successful.
I competed in most national events and won many medals/trophies for my forms and push-hands. In 1994 I was invited to be part of the British team and competed at the World Championships in Orlando, Florida. This was a great opportunity and I got to meet many highly respected master and students alike. There were three of us in the team from Zhong Ding, which was a pretty high percentage considering the total team was only ten. Steve Burns, Garry Clarke and myself caught the eye of William CC Chen and were invited for a meal (this upset a few who had been trying to get his attentions). He was intrigued to know our lineage and complemented Steve on his gusto in the Full contact as he was the only Tai Chi man taking part. These were fantastic times and I whole heartedly loved the art I was practicing……
In 1995 ‘Kai Ming Association for Taijiquan’ was formed. Kai Ming means open-minded and that was our mission statement. We do not want to teach other martial arts only Tai Chi (taiji) and would explore any avenues open to use to get to the essence of our art and evolve.
In 1998 I was invited to head the British Team and compete in Taiwan. Tan Ching Ngee formally introduced me to William CC Chen, which served to reinforce our previous meeting. I was invited to the World Tai Chi Federation meeting and introduced to many dignitaries. But the biggest surprise was when I was asked to be vice-president alongside William Chen. As I was the only non-Chinese this was a great honour for our association and me.
Following a successful career both competing and judging Tai Chi nationally and internationally, I decided to stop for a while and focus my efforts purely on the development of Kai Ming and my understanding of our art. I have subsequently trained with a number of teachers of which I count Peter Ralston and Willie Lim as the most influential. We have written articles for most of the martial arts and Tai Chi journals in the UK and US and have produced a series of videos/DVDs that sell successfully nationwide. We also have a book currently in editing.
I have taught workshops at a number of other Tai Chi groups and the Kai Ming Association has grown to include two of these groups. As my research into the art and understanding of body/mind work has grown, I have developed a ‘Tai Chi for Falls Prevention & Patient Rehabilitation’ program. This has been successfully delivered to a number of Primary Care Trusts (PCT’s) across the Midlands. Following this I was asked to give a talk and demonstration, at the NHS AGM in Birmingham, by the Director of Public Health. I have also been asked to lead a workshop for Tai Chi Forum for Special Needs. We have appeared on a number of TV programs including Doctors, which is a BBC daytime series (filmed in Birmingham). This all lead to us forming Painting The Rainbow CIC which has its focus on tai chi for well-being and was the brain child of my wife, Jenny Peters, who is a Nurse and very astute in such things.
This lead to a fascination as to a mind and body approach to life and I became interested in NLP and hypnosis. Jenny actually trained in hypnosis, for her job, and practice on me which really set that spark alight.
I got so fascinated that I trained to become a Licensed Master Practitioner and Licensed Trainer of NLP and Master Hypnotist. I became involved with NLP when looking at management of change and read Martin Roberts book ‘Change Management Excellence – Putting NLP to work’. The impact was immediate and amazingly simple so he started his training with SNLP and continues to update his skills and knowledge. I also trained in Hypnotherapy at Stafford University and CBT in Bristol.
I remember saying, “I’m yet to find an area where NLP cannot be applied as it is a model of improved communication. Whether helping to change a client’s perspective or coaching a member of staff the only limit seems to be my own flexibility. For me it is more effective than any other means of changing mindsets, whether in therapy or otherwise. The reason for this is simple: it utilises the same processes that the mind naturally uses to learn new behaviours, but does so in a more concise form than exists naturally; it can be utilised for coaching and leadership and so much more”.
With my background was in the manufacturing sector where we focused on Lean, ‘right-first-time’ 6-sigma, 5S etc. I noted that NLP is all about communication with purpose I see it as ‘Lean Mind Management’ when elegance of interaction makes the real difference. An old boss used to say “We never have time to do it right but always find time to put it right” which rings so true in communication as well as manufacturing. There are no wasted words so it makes so much sense to always communicate with purpose and direction; NLP gives me the skills to do this.
The Balanced Approach to mind and body has lead to formation of Balanced Approach Training and to both the workshops and books we continue to offer.