By Gray Miller
Eight years ago I walked into Kevin Weaver's class at the Tehama Family Fitness Center in Red Bluff, California. I was looking for an activity to promote good balance. Twelve years of fighting Parkinson's Disease had taken its toll on my physical skills, and I could foresee a future of increasing challenges. But, I was unprepared for Kevin's introduction to an activity that would immeasurably alter my life. I watched him go through a set of movements that were a unique combination of physical skill, mental concentration and grace. His movements were fluid, graceful and, quite simply, beautiful. I recall staring in awe as he performed the Mandarin Form of Tai Chi. I don't impress easily, especially with physical skills. Years of teaching swimming and my skiing had made me a seasoned critic of teaching physical skills. Kevin had it all! He could communicate the complex movements of The Form and reduce it to a fundamental set of skills that could be mastered. Most importantly, he made it fun.
I began the daunting task of learning The Form. I was still living in the Eastern U.S., only coming to Red Bluff every three months. I floundered. I had small successes. I had major misunderstandings and embarrassing lapses of concentration. While in the East, I would use a video tape to guide my steps. While in the West, I would extract every ounce of skill I could learn from Kevin. He graciously provided his time and guidance as I struggled. Slowly, I began to learn. The Form became a common daily experience that I practiced everywhere I traveled: Baltimore, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Sydney, Melbourne, Salt Lake City.
I transcribed Kevin's video tape into these notes. This work is my eighth version (Rev-h). With over a hundred moves transcribed, with difficulty, to the written word, I'm sure there are still errors. Nevertheless, it is the start of a learning tool for the newer students and a reference for the more experienced.
I am committed to an illustrated book which is in progress. It will be far more polished than this work. Kevin, once again, has selflessly provided his time allowing me to photograph each move. In the process, we have produced a DVD to substitute for my worn out video tape. But, until our book emerges, it is my wish that these notes may be of assistance.
Oh yes, with the help of Tai Chi, and a wonderful family and friends, I'm successfully battling Parkinson's Disease. It is the challenge of my lifetime. Each day is a gift.
Please enjoy this work and send me your suggestions for improvements. It will never be complete!
Mandarin Tai Chi Form, Detailed Description
Right Side Only (Reduced Repetitions for Limited Space)
By Gray Miller
PDF Format, Read-Save-Print Only Version, 917 Kb, Rev. h, 2/18/2015
"In 2004, I attended a local morning Taijiquan class
in Red Bluff, California. The teacher was Sifu Kevin Weaver. Before I
began working another job in the morning, I attended some of his classes. He led us in
performing various Qigong sets, and he led us in a performance of the entire
Taijiquan form called "Mandarin Tai Chi."
Sifu Weaver had learned this rare Tai Chi form from Master Lenny. And, some say, Master Lenny learned the Mandarin Form Tai Chi from a Chinese man in San Francisco. I was introduced to Master Lenny once, and was impressed at how fit, agile, and flexible he seemed to be for a man well over 70 years of age. Sifu Kevin, himself, is quite an all-round athlete, a good man, now in his 60's, and he teaches many fitness classes at the Tehama Family Fitness Center.
The 'Mandarin Form' is a graceful, fluid, and long Taijiquan routine. Tai Chi aficionados will recognize the variations of postures found in many other Tai Chi forms. Some good balancing skills are required at times. Fairly erect postures are maintained at a slow to moderate pace. There are some complex and and dance-like movements (e.g., Repulse Monkey). Energetic and poised expression from the toes to the finger tips. 15 minutes to 30 minutes of standing and moving are required to perform this challenging taijiquan routine.
Our teacher was focused on having us experience doing the entire Mandarin Routine. We carefully observed and tried our best to follow. We listened to the silence. We just did it ... and I felt the Jin forces, Jing sensitivity, and dignity. Also, I experienced enjoyment when playing taijiquan with others; and, I enjoy yielding and following activities.
Other students, over the years, studied weekly
in the morning with Sifu Weaver in Red
Bluff. They know Sifu Weaver much better than I as Taiji devotees and
sportsmen. Kevin is a Master of Mandarin Tai Chi. One of Kevin's dedicated students, and a former assistant
teacher of the Mandarin Tai Chi Form, is Gray Miller. Gray has carefully studied
the Mandarin Tai Chi Form, photographed this form, practiced this routine, and wrote a
verbal description of the Mandarin Form. You will
find his written contribution above."
- Mike Garofalo
Best wishes to Taiji Players, from Mike Garofalo, Valley Spirit Center Taijiquan, Red Bluff, March, 2016
Green Way Research, Red Bluff, California, 2016
This webpage was last modified or updated on March 31, 2016.