Back in 2002, a work colleague sent Christine Barbier an email asking if anybody was interested in trying out Qigong. This was Martin Hird who was an instructor of the Tse Qigong Centre. He had overheard a conversation between two ladies discussing their health problems and thought that Qigong may help them and so started a class for the work colleagues.
After the while the class moved away from work and others joined. Christine really did not know what Qigong was and went along to see if it could help with her chronic stress symptoms. At the end of the first class she found her mind was very calm and she could remember the exercises to practice them during that first week. The Qigong skill appeared very different from anything else she had tried before. There was the individual attention during the class from Sifu (teacher) Martin. The exercises that he taught looked simple but felt powerful and made her feel better. Another difference from other type of exercises that she had tried was the “centre” to which the class was attached, the Chinese stories surrounding the exercises and the individual exercise names. This was no ordinary class.
At first Christine noticed the effects on her physical body:- calmer mind, less tension, more balanced and happier, and satisfaction to keep a long-term commitment without getting bored. Then later, reading the Qi Magazine and the books published by her Sigong (grand teacher), Master Michael Tse, she discovered the Chinese culture, values and traditions. It was like travelling to a far away country whilst staying at home.
Then one day Sifu Martin said that he was moving away from the area and asked Christine if she would like to carry on the Qigong class. After a period of transition, Christine was invited to attend an instructor’s course, where she met with more of the Centre’s “family”. Teaching added another dimension to the learning, with students encouraging the process through their questions.
The journey that started with Qigong expanded over the years to include all the other skills offered by the Tse Qigong Centre. Living in the North East of England, a part of the country where it is important to keep warm all year round, Christine found that the Chun Yuen Quan skill did just that. It enabled her for the first time to feel comfortable in cold and damp conditions and keeps her fit and flexible. The skill also includes practice with training weapons of all sorts (wooden staff and stick, broadsword and straight swords), which is much fun.
Later Christine started her self defence and martial art journey under the guidance of her second Sifu, Martin Gale, who is a senior student of Master Tse. She learnt both Chen Taijiquan and Wing Chun. There are many martial art classes available in the UK and she always thought that these were only for the thought guys and required rather more strength than she naturally has. She was proved wrong in her assumptions, as the self defence that the Centre teaches relies on skill not power, so she found that she could actually use the techniques effectively even thought she is a small person. Practicing both Taijiquan and Wing Chun forms has developed the strength in her legs and the coordination and reactions in her brain, which can then be used in the friendly partner’s game of “pushing hand” (Taijiquan’s Tui Shou) and “sticking hand” (Wing Chun’s Chi Sau). One unexpected bonus has been the application of the Taijiquan and Wing Chun principles to non-physical situations. For example, when someone has “a go at you” or “gets on your nerves”, then the situation can be handled much more calmly, helping to find a good outcome and reducing stress levels significantly.
Over the years Christine has had the privilege of meeting her Taijiquan Tai Sigong (great grand teacher), Grand Master Chen Xiao Wang and her Wing Chun Tai Sigong, Grand Master Ip Chun, experiencing first hand their teachings and skills. She has also travelled to China with the Centre, the birth place of all these skills, experiencing the culture and philosophy from which they originate. She has made many friends with other like minded people in the Centre, some of them living on the other side of the world.
Christine hopes that she can help others discover, enjoy and benefit from these authentic skills