MY EARLY TRAINING BIOGRAPHY WITH BRUCE FRANTZIS

WU STYLE TAI CHI

(This is heavily adapted from the original one on the old site, but it's here as a number of people in the past mentioned they liked the story...just re-checked some of these details with Trevor who just did some training with me!!!)

The Beginning

I met Bruce Frantzis the first time in 1987 it was a one day course which introduced the Bagua Zhang rolling step that had been taught by Bruce's first teacher Wang Shu Chin. I must admit I was suitably impressed not only by Bruce's skills, which were very clearly on show but also by the willingness he displayed to give advice and teaching in the Internal Arts.
Indeed I approached Bruce in one of the breaks to ask for some advice on something I had been taught by my then Tai Chi teacher-a Japanese woman who was teaching me the 24 step Beijing Tai Chi set back in my hometown, Brighton. I won't go into details but this woman was teaching me things about the Chakras, the energy centres more often associated with Yoga than Tai Chi and I was a little concerned by the "side effects" of continuing these practices.
Anyway I explained a bit of this to Bruce and before I got to far he simply asked
 "What's your name?"
"Jamie." I replied.
"Well,Jamie don't mess with that s***."
It was brief advice but it summed up what I was feeling from the exercises I was pursuing.
Then Bruce expanded by telling me to read up more around the topic of Yoga and its energy work before taking any further steps in practise and pointed out that such training often requires the regular prescence of a teacher to fix any potential problems or prevent a small problem from becoming worse.
 I walked away happy to have got some good advice-especially without having been made to feel like I was in danger of imminently exploding. I would not say I was hooked but I definitely made up my mind to see this teacher again, when he was back in town.

The Second Weekend Seminar

That happened about 9 months later in April 1988. This time the course was to be a general Internal Martial Arts class and again I was impressed by the sound body knowledge that Bruce displayed. This was of interest for me because up to that time I had studied Wado Karate and didn't exactly have a very good awareness of how to develop my health through training. In fact I had joint problems in my elbows, knees and lower back. At the time I described my situation as "Eighteen with the body of an eighty year old!".

I wouldn't like to lay the blame purely on Karate training for this state of affairs but I didn't get better through training-that's why I was looking for Internal Arts in the first place-I had heard too often about practitioners using Internal Arts to produce superior health and Martial Arts skills.

During this weekend seminar Julian Abel anounced his intention to start teaching Bruce's Wu Style Tai Chi Long Form as weekend intensives starting on 21st and 22nd May 1988(I still have the original photocopied letter that was sent out to the participants-anorak that I am).

Studying Wu Style Long Form with Julian Abel

So I started the classes that were to continue under Julian for the next year and a half.
My first reaction was to do what I had done in training Karate. I practised the few exercises like mad, in the first few months I spent about 5 hours per day practising Cloud Hands, the Swings and the Wu Long Form. In the beginning my joints popped so much it sounded like someone bursting bubble wrap-a phenomena I shared with the other Karate people who were in the group.

After a while the group stabilised down to about 12 regular attendees. Trevor Barry and his wife Sue, Ewan Stewart, Dave Klug, Bryson Gore, Derek Spearman, Martin Tait, Maj(sorry no surname)Inigo(again no surname,sorry guys)Glen Jenkins,Chris Chappel and myself.

We often met in various places throughout London to practise between classes and often used Regent's Park as a practise place and in Winter I remember using the roof above Inigo's father's shop which was hell for me as I do not like heights!

Trevor Barry Second Head of FITCA
Anyway after the first year or so was over the group continued without the instruction of Julian as he had decided to concentrate on other aspects of his healing skills and Trevor Barry took over as the new Head of the Frantzis International Tai Chi Association.
He opened several classes in and around London. It was in September 1989 that Trevor Barry and myself learnt the Wu Short Form from Bruce in private lessons and it was after this that we started to promote this form in the U.K.-having received Bruce's permission to teach it. I still have a Certificate signed by Trevor Barry which covered me for Wu Tai Chi and Core Exercises, the then name for the Chi gungs we were learning from Bruce. I don't think this Certificate was much more than a way I could get insurance cover-even then an essential item for an Instructor.

It was around this time that I started to assist Trevor, teaching weekend seminars in London.This association continued for the next few years until Trevor left the running of the Association in my (then) incapable hands.


My time as Head of FITCA

As head of F.I.T.C.A. in Europe I continued to teach small classes in London at the Balham and Tooting Conservative Association Headquarters which always caused amusement amongst the participants as most of them were staunch Labour supporters! That class went on for 3 years and eventually transferred to Imperial College Sports Centre which was in part taught by Dave Klug a Senior Student in Bruce's system and good friend.
My last class in London was held in the Streatham Swimming Pool and was taken over by two friends after I had left the U.K.
I moved away to Hamburg in Germany and the Association passed on to its present European Head Brian Cooper in 1995.

Wu Style Energy Mechanics Retreat 1991

I spent two weeks in 1991 in California,learning in the first week Wu Tai Chi Short Form Energy Mechanics and in the second Spiralling Energy Body Nei Gung.
This was to be a great learning experience for me-I got to meet Bill Ryan, Eric Peters, Bernie Langan and a number of Bruce's other longer term students. Most important for me, at least, was meeting David Barbero, who at the time was in his late fifties-it was the way he easily handled me in Push Hands that convinced me that Tai Chi could provide realistic martial training past the age of fifty.

1999 Wu Style Short Form Teacher Training

From about 1995 to 1998 I disappeared somewhat from the scene in the U.K. After attending Bruce's two weekend workshops, in 1998, I received an invitation to the Instructor Training for Wu Tai Chi Short Form in 1999. I successfully took the Senior Instructor, Level 2, test at the end of the course.
When I returned home,it wasn't to Hamburg but to Frankfurt Am Main in the middle of Germany. It was there that I chose to live and to start spreading Bruce's teachings of Tai Chi and Chi gung.

What I Teach And How

Since 1999 I have taught only small groups of students preferring to develop practioners who can use the health,fighting and meditative aspects of Wu Tai Chi and Ba Gua Zhang.
In fact the approach I take when I teach Tai Chi or Ba Gua is to try to give equal emphasis to the three aspects of health,fighting and meditative practice-especially as the founder of this Association is famous as a martial artist/healer and meditation master.