Tai Chi Instructor Boz Odusanya
I have been involved and training Taiji for over 35 years. The first style of Taiji I practiced was Wu style. The teacher at that time was David Barrow from Sheffield UK. I was taught under him for at least 7-8 years. I have been teaching Taiji ever since the early years – I spent many years looking around for the teacher (at times I thought I had found him/her).
I had the invitation to train with other Taiji teachers from an assortment of different styles, (eg. Workshops arranged by the Taiji Union of Great Britain which had many teachers of different styles). I had the opportunity to be taught by Joe Fung Sung Hung of Malaysia; also to be part of the school of Ma Bo (Ma Yeuh Liang son), However none of these opportunities felt right for me to accept.
My previous teacher was Patrick Kelly who had been the student of Grandmaster Huang Sheng-Shyan.
I have taught for:
- Adult education in Greenwich; Kidbrooke (London); Matlock – HopeValley (Derbyshire), Sheffield, Chesterfield.
- Health centres in Chesterfield and Sheffield. I have taught in
- Both the Universities in Sheffield.
- Private institutions, such as Rotary club, Womens Assoc, Afro Caribbean
- NHS- Adult Mental health; also Older adult functional and organic.
What stimulated your interest in Taiji?
I used to practice shotokan karate for 3 years from the age of 15. Then I started to get interested in kung fu (I really thought Bruce Lee was great – but the films that got me hooked was ‘King Boxer’ and ‘Ten fingers of steel’). I soon grew out of the fighting phase (I realised the winners get hurt too, not for me)… I am not interested in fighting, only the idea of self defense. When I was in my early twenties I was introduced to Tai chi, At first I did not know what Taiji was – but when told about it, it was explained as being spiritual, tranquil and peaceful. So the interest was spurred with the promise of positive outcomes.
What does Tai Ji mean to you?
Tai Ji enables me to (on good days) connect with my inner sensations and have a glimpse of the relative truths of this reality (anyway on the down side it just feels good – it inspires me with positive insights about me/the meaning of life/about all/above all CONTENTMENT).
Who or what inspired me?
I requarly visit Taijji and Qigong forums, at the moment that is inspiring me. I get a lot of inspiration from teaching, and learning new things, gaining insights from my training.
What do you make of Tai Ji current popularity?
Tai chi Union of Great Britain is helping to make more people to become aware of Tai chi. Tai chi is being percieved as a general health (wellbeing) enhancer. On the internet there are lots of tai ji sites present. In my local area Tai chi classes have sprung up.
As a teacher what do you feel about the martial aspect of the art?
I think it’s good if you can do it. To be able to use a strong intention – fluid body – and internal energy. YES! Fantastic if you can do it without losing teeth and breaking bones. It would be miraculous if the martial aspect comes to the forefront, when you are in desperate danger of being seriously physically damaged by outside forces. Therefore the self defense exponent is very pertinent and is of value.
What are your views on competition?
I did enter the Great British pushing hands in 1986 and to my surprise I won. However the pushing hands were very physical and really lacked the principles as the taiji classics state. So now years later I am not interested – competition it appears keeps you at a physical (superficial) level. Not that there is anything wrong with that – because that can feel good and promote the building of your self esteem (over my years experience it seems to feed the EGO, beware!). However its not complementing the direction and focus of where I believe I want to go with Taiji (achieve).
What direction would you like to see Tai Ji going in the future?
I would like to see Taiji integrated in all levels of the community. As a medicine – Taiji can be powerful in building a persons self belief (self esteem – psycho-social functions); help with balance – help people with falling and fear of falling. I would like to see the quality of myself as a Tai Chi instructor and practitioner improve, and that of my fellow Tai Chi communities improve.
Article written by Boz Odusanya.