Qigong (chi kung) and Taijiquan (t'ai chi ch'uan) in Lancaster, Garstang and Kirkby Lonsdale with Andi Chapple

Hello! My name is Andi Chapple and I teach taiji and qigong. I spent many years living by the wild and mysterious Elephant Mountain and was a disciple of the hidden masters there. I am now settled in Lancaster, the Wild Goose City. I've been learning for nearly 20 years and teaching for nearly 15. Please follow this link to a page with my credentials (and links to videos and a note on spelling Chinese words).

I'm available for one-to-one teaching around Lancaster. Please follow this link for an introductory video and details about the regular indoor classes I am doing in Lancaster, Garstang and Kirkby Lonsdale. Basically there is Movement and Stillness, which will do what it says really with gentle qigong and standing meditation, on Friday mornings in Kirkby Lonsdale (this session is now paused for the summer), and a more traditional Taiji and Qigong for Beginners and Improvers class on Wednesday mornings in Garstang and Thursday evenings in Lancaster. The taiji form I teach is the one developed by Cheng Man-Ch'ing (Zhèng Mànqīng, 鄭曼青). We learn and practise Wild Goose qigong on Thursdays and a range of qigong sets on Wednesdays. My emphasis when people start is on the minimum necessary to get a feel for it and get some benefit. My approach is to practise lots and not to talk very much if I can help it.

Contact

If you are interested, please contact me at andichapple (at) gmail (dot) com, on 07891 908025 or via Facebook - look for Elephant Mountain Taichi.

The Elephant Mountain method

I lived, learnt and practised for a long time in Sedbergh at the foot of the Howgill Fells, Wainwright's famous 'sleeping elephants'. I have been lucky to share the town with two experienced and inspiring teachers (again, see this link), and most of what I know they taught me.

They shared their interests as they explored, I would say, rather than passing on the fixed syllabus of one school, and I have worked with a number of other teachers, so you could say I have dipped my toe in the water of several currents of these arts and ended up with my own blend of approaches, dependent on the situation where I lived and learned - so, the Elephant Mountain method.

It also fits the flavour of these arts in China to have an origin story, even a light-hearted one, as schools often do - they talk about their qigong's beginnings with Bodidharma or the Daoist (Taoist) monks of the Kunlun Mountains or the development of taiji by famous, but not historically attested, fighters. I might take an ironic tone but I am serious when I bow to the chain of teachers and students who have preserved the arts, often under difficult conditions, and transmitted them to me. I hope I can pass them on to you.

What it's all about

'Qi' (pronounced 'chee') works in Chinese a bit like 'energy' works in English, and can be as vague. 'Gong' (pronounced halfway between 'gong' and 'kung') is something like 'work', 'practice' and the skill that a particular practice gives. A good first translation of 'qigong' would be 'energy work' or 'energy art'. It's a wide range of exercises using the body, breath and mind to promote relaxation, perseverance and balance.

Taiji (pronounced 'tie' (like a knot) 'tchee', more fully 'taijiquan' ('chwan') or 'great ultimate boxing') is originally a martial art but most people practise it as a deep and gentle body-mind workout.

Both qigong and taiji share the outlook of traditional Chinese medicine and philosophy. On Elephant Mountain we learnt some qigong first to give a grounding for the taiji ‘form’ or sequence of moves.

Qigong and taiji work very well for older people and for people recovering from injury or illness. There is also plenty in them for fitter people - athletes can benefit from our interest in efficient movement. It can help those looking to wind down from a busy day. The exercises can mostly be adapted for people with movement difficulties. I hope to create a safe space for exploration which will support people through the occasional uncertainties that learning something new can bring. You don't need special clothing, just something comfortable. The same goes for footwear (we generally practise standing up so wear shoes you like if you want to wear shoes), although I recommend flat-soled shoes or pumps.

Qigong and taiji together can be a lifetime's study encompassing bodily toning, stretching and relaxation; good posture and efficient movement, leading to improved balance; deep, relaxed breathing; integration of mind and body, mental relaxation and an accepting, focussed state of mind; meditation; the Chinese conception of energy, well-being and the cosmos; elegant sequences of movements; and partner work leading to full-on martial art.

The purpose of all this detail is to change your mind's model of your body and show where it is inaccurate and then help reprogramme your body to move in a relaxed, efficient and more enjoyable way. The relaxation then helps you address physical, mental and emotional habits that are in your way. This takes a while, but if the approach resonates with you you can expect to enjoy it and get something out of it from the beginning. I teach the detail, but when it can do most good rather than all at once.