After studying for ten years with his teacher, Master Patrick Nagle, in the London suburb of East Ham, Alan started
teaching Yang Style T’ai Chi Ch'uan in Essex, where over the next few years, taught hundreds of students in Adult
Education classes. During this time he continued to broaden his understanding of the art by studying under the
Setting up his own school, Touchstone T’ai Chi Ch’uan in 1998 at Cranham in Essex, with the sole purpose of
teaching the Yang style system of T’ai Chi in combination with Qigong and based on the Daoist philosophies
He moved back home to Scotland in 2004, teaching in a variety of settings, Including Healthy Living, Bannatyne’s
Health Club and various halls throughout Ayrshire and Renfrewshire. He eventually settled in the village
hall at Minishant in 2006, which is an ideal setting for learning the wonderful art of T’ai Chi. The Minishant Hall was
badly neglected unfortunately and fell into disrepair, becoming unusable by 2014.
The Crosshill Community Centre has taken it's place, with regular Sunday morning classes. A full list of current
classes can be found here.
The Carrick Centre in Maybole, is the venue for a Thurday morning class. This class has been set up for the benefit
of those who do not wish to pursue the challenge of the Traditional Art, but wish instead to gain some health
improvements from a lighter training regime. The new Carrick Centre has excellent facilities and is well placed for
arriving by car, train or bus. Maybole train station is literally next door and the bus stop is less than 100 yards from
the main door.
Good health and a calm and peaceful mind are the ultimate goals, and when these are achieved, the arts can be
applied in a functional way. T’ai Chi then is about learning how not to fight, using the art of yielding, through the
understanding of the principles of Yin and Yang and utilising this understanding in every aspect of daily life. This
understanding can take years or a lifetime of study and practice to perfect, however students who practice regularly,
invariably report improvements in physical and mental health within a relatively short period of time. The learning
experience is very gentle, without pressure and individuals’ progress at their own pace.
What is T’ai Chi Ch’uan?
When we take into account the amount of publicity T’ai Chi Ch’uan receives in the national press and television, films and
magazines, (T’ai Chi Chuan magazines included) upon analysis we will probably deduce that the art of T’ai Chi Ch’uan is
being portrayed as just about anything other than what it is. It is no surprise then, considering the amount of misinformation
contained in tabloid health articles and TV soaps, that there is great confusion in the Western world as to what T’ai Chi
Is it a form of meditation? Is it a sport? Is it a system of stress relief? Is it something elderly Chinese people do when they
visit the park? These are some of the questions I am asked consistently from prospective students. Rarely am I asked what
type of martial art is it. In fact when informed of the fact that it is a martial art, most inquirers promptly cut the conversation
short and bid me farewell. This confusion is not limited to the “layman”, but appears to be prevalent among the ranks of
those who purport to be actively engaged in learning and “teaching” the art.
When we take the time and trouble to read the writings of the many masters who were kind enough to leave us guiding
thoughts regarding progression within the art, it is apparent that the subject matter at hand is martial skill and civil skill, and
how to obtain them.
When we examine and practice the disciplines to obtain these martial and civil skills, it is obvious that the sincere student
would have no other option than to enjoy good health and excellent fitness. The ability to cope and deal with the most
demanding of situations, as they occur on life’s road, being a direct result and reward of practising the disciplines inherent to
the understanding of the art.
So then T’ai Chi Ch’uan is a form of meditation whilst also a system of very serious self defence. It is a journey of self
exploration, involving movement and stillness. It is founded on a trilogy of Taoist principles which include the theory of Yin
and Yang. Which according to the I Ching, are born from T’ai Chi, with Tai Chi coming from Wu Chi.
Wu Chi representing absolute stillness with no mind intent.
T’ai Chi representing stillness on the outside, movement in the mind. (Mind intent)
Yin and Yang representing the ceaseless interaction of Yin and Yang within movement.
T’ai Chi Ch’uan then is a discipline designed to help the student understand and find the value and benefits in calmness, self
study and cultivation, practice patience and perseverance. The eventual goal being “enlightenment” and /or balance.
Alan Hamilton (Sifu)
Touchstone T’ai Chi Ch’uan