- We all know Taiji is originally from China, and has spread to all over the world, many people have different understanding and view of Taiji, in some countries the idea of Taiji become localized. So, what is your understanding of Taiji apart from its physical pattern as Taijiquan? What can it do? What’s kind of philosophy it is? What can be related to our modern life?
When I first met Taijiquan I felt it was something I had been longing for and indeed practicing in my heart all my life. My first teacher was Irish, Dr. John Kells and it was his gentle manner of transmitting this sophisticated form of movement and relaxation which fascinated me and brought me home to myself. The philosophy and way of seeing the balance of yin and yang gave my intellect a clear path to see the disparages of life and helped me understand how the body is an intimate mirror of this, it resonated deeply within me and gave me peace. Taijiquan has always inspired me to take notice of my physical well being and has moved me into a state of accept and relaxation to who I am. Taijiquan helps to cultivate a better way of handling the daily challenges of life as one learns to transform the negative emotional circumstances which interrupt ones inner peace through transforming the physical tensions manifesting within the body. Taijiquan is a great tool to take responsibility for ones actions and learn to balance them. One can then go on to cultivate a higher understanding of ones place in the greater community and society at large.
- Your center offers Taijiquan, qigong, and Kung fu practice, what are differences and similarity between them?
The teaching at Norsk Taiji Senter is mainly focusing on Taijquan which is a Martial Art. The qigong taught at the centre is a great compliment to taijiquan as we can express some of the negative patterns sitting in the body by using more spontaneous techniques such a stretching, slapping and shaking as well as a more detailed guidance through meditation techniqes and visualisations. We teach both Huagong and Baduanjin Qigong at NTS. We are not teaching Kungfu anymore as my son Bjarte Hiley who was teaching Kungfu ealrier and who has lived in Wudangshan for 4 years has now moved to Holland.
- How was it like in the beginning? NTS has now over 6000 and more students in Norway, are there many young people learning Taiji Now?
Indeed we have had many thousands of students passing through the centre during the past 35 years. In the beginning it was a novelty and very new to the Norwegian people. In fact the classes would be full and there was a big turn over of students where people wanted to try it out. Over the years one sees who stays with the practice and who leaves and it can be that people come back again after many years away. The practice leaves a strong impression on people and I have many students who have been at the centre for over 20 years and are still practicing diligently. We have created a very inspiring milieu which has developed life long friendships through deep dialogue sharing life experiences with openness. People come from all walks of life from education and science to the arts and political professionals. There is a good balance of both men and women in my classes and the age is form 20 to 80 with most students between 25 and 60. There are more and more younger educated people coming as they search for new solutions to their deeper motivations and lifes challenges.
4. You are originally from Britain, what are differences and common between Taiji and western philosophy, from your point of view?
Well, I am a Celt from Wales and have found the nature based philosophy of dao very akin to the old celtic shamanic roots of my culture. In the broader western philosophical perspective there are ideas which have tended to remain in the mind only and have tended to neglect the full
embodiment of the human condition closely related to nature connecting the Body, Mind and Spirit. I was blessed to meet the late great Professor Arne Næss the Norwegian philosopher who was a very enlightened man who undertsood profoundly the tendencies of the human conditioning and that man is indeed one with nature.
5. When was the first time you get to know Taiji and the ancient philosophy? What impression did Taiji give you at that time?
In 1978 I was studying Human Movement Studies at University and did art as my second subject. I had a project on Black and this brought me into the science of black holes and the light therein and then digging deeper I came across the birth of yin and yang which I considered to be a science of movement. Taijiquan popped up then as a movement related to yin and yang and when I moved to London for Post Graduate studies I found a teacher and I have not stopped being curious since.
6. You came to Norway over 30 years ago, which was in 1983, what was the reason that make you think of bringing Taiji, Qigong and the ancient China’s philosophy to Norway?
I was invited to teach Taiji and make a dance and music perfomance at the Per Gynt festival in Vinstra in 1983, so you could say it was Ibsen who brought me to Norway. Thorbjorn Enger won the Per Gynt prize that year so I somehow landed in Kardemommeby with Per Gynt and waffles. Was invited back again and again and decided to stay as there were more trees than people here and I loved the peace that nature brought.
1983年，我被邀请在挪威温斯特拉（Vinstra）的Per Gynt活动中教大家太极和舞蹈、音乐表演。所以，也可以说是易卜生把我带到了挪威。那年，Thorbjorn Enger赢得了Per Gynt奖，因此我得以在Kardemommeby和Per Gynt一起吃华夫饼。他们多次邀请我以后，我决定留在挪威，因为这里树木比人多，而且我也喜欢这里的自然带来的平静。
7. Norway is rich country, but how do you see ordinary Norwegian internal world?
Norway is rich in natural resources as well as financial resources and my hope is that the ordinary man in the street will wake up to their opportunity to cultivate deep values for inner peace and consciousness aligning itself form within to harmonise and balance this. Living in Norway can put us to sleep as it is so comfortable and easy to live compared to many other coutries who are sufferring from poverty, war and conflicts. Our fortunes here in Norway will hopefully bring us into a good postion to create wiser decisions for the next generation to lead from within and not just be satisfied with material benefits. I believe the next generation will be searching for something more interesting than just shopping and entertainment as the nature spirits are so prevelant here and the awareness and questions arising from integration challenges will hopefuly keep us awake enough to change and transform these imporant and imminent issue humanity is facing right now concerning life itself. Norway is very well placed to create and make these changes, if Norway cannot do it, who can?
8. How can Taiji can be a guide in our daily secular life? For example, Taiji give us balance and inner rich, but what help can I get from Tiaji if I am fighting in my work. From utilitarianism point of view, what benefit can I get?
Taijiquan can help to transform negative emotions which can cultivate a greater awareness to self. It can help teach us that our most vulnerable moments is what can strengthen us and give more insight for our lives and help us to make wiser decisions. It can be like a touch stone to help regain our balance in times of challenge.
9. What is the idea of balance in Taiji? What does it mean for a working class person?
Balance is about realising when we have enough.
10. In 2003 you established Peace Point Foundation, what is its goal?
What is the foundation doing now? What is the definition of peace in this context?
PPFoundation closed many years ago but I continue the work though various projects and dialogues and conferences. It is based on Peace from within.
11. Can you give us an example of softness is stronger than hardness in real life?
Any conflict is an opportunity to practice softness and being able to transform the conflict into open communciation and dialogue. If one is able to listen long enough to the other yet stand ones ground one can shape a strong evolution for great thought. Like a hard knife shaping the sculpture on the soft wood, beauty and form is created.
12. Can you talk about your experience when you were studying in Wudang mountain?
Beautiful nature and inspiring dedication and patience from the masters. Dao Cha – Tea drinking was the best I’ve ever tasted.
13. In an early interview you said that Taiji should be a sport at school just like football and ski, can you tell us what can taiji help with teenagers?
It can help reduce stress and encourage a more satisfying method of understanding one another through touch and contact. Techniques such as in Pushing Hands and partner work it can be very playful and help develop empathy and understanding for the other. It can give concentration and confidence to teenagers to help them realise they already have many energies already with themselves to serve their family, friends and humanity and give them useful tools for their own career and well being.
14. What is your expectation for Taiji in the new year?
That more people will practice and reap the benefits of this gentle, strong movement form and gain insight from its profound stillness in movement and pure silent communication.
15. Bjarte Hiley has also studied Taiji in China for several years, what brings him to Taiji? In China, we consider practice Taiji,Kongfu or Taoism to be hard and miserable, it takes very long time and you have to isolate yourself from outside world, how could a young boy manage that?
You should really ask Bjarte. He is a profound man and will share his knowledge and wisdom as time goes on. My belief is we need the core of nature based philosophy and dao culture in society now and my hope is that the next generation can gain inspiration from dao and embodiment of it as I see Bjarte doing in his life. Hes an inspiration to young people and not afraid to confront and speak his truth. We will need more and more honesty as time goes on.
Check him out here www.daomove.com
16. In China, however, people have different views toward Taiji. Last year, there is Taiji master who actually was beaten down by a Mixed Marshall Arts fighter in 15 seconds. Some people describe Taiji as a farce, some accused tai chi practitioners online of using “many different ways to cheat” and “continuing to lie to people” about their abilities. What do you think of controversy?
I believe taking care of ones immune system is the highest form of defence we need, so health is the main focus here. Be kind and dont make any rash promises. Taijiquans higher goals are to transform ones mental state so one becomes a better person so one will not need to prove anything. I have survived living in Norway for 35 years teaching taijiquan, you could say that is quite an accomplishment but its not that impressive or it does not `show off` any obvious martial abilities. Its the long term impression that counts not short term. Penetrating the society slowly to change and transform from within takes time so please check your internal net not internet.
17. Now questions from our reader.
“I want to learn Taiji, how long does it take?”
A Life time. Alas attending a 10 week course you will immediately feel the benefits of tuning into the qi field and aligning your posture to what is more natural, challenging and relaxing to you.
“I want to learn Taiji, can it help me to defend myself?”
Ones immune system is the most important defence you need. Also in personal relations one learns to quantify and balance ones communication. What one gives out comes back so one learns to take responsability for ones actions.
“I want to learn Taiji, do I need preparation for that?”
Find a good teacher
“I want to learn Taiji, but it is difficult to calm down when practice, how can I do?”
Practice more and relax your breath to tantien.