About Me:

Hi my name is Matt Berry,
 I have been practising Internal Arts since 1997 and teaching weekly classes since 2002.
I can easily say that Martial Arts are my main passion in life, having trained in various systems for over 30 years. I started my first Judo class at the age of 5 and from there went on to spend various amounts of time studying Karate, Aikido, Jujitsu, Boxing, Kung Fu, Hsing Yi, Bagua Zhang, Kyusho Jitsu and more...with some great teachers and exponents of their arts but although having trained in so many different arts I always found that something was missing for me. I was still searching for something?

I started learning about and studying Qigong in 1997 and then shortly after I started my Journey with Tai Chi Chuan. I can safely say that I was hooked from day one and I never expected to be! Shamefully I went to my first Tai Chi Class as a complete skeptic I was 20 years old with an average sized ego as to my own martial ability, I thought this Tai Chi stuff was just for old people because it was so slow!
But still there I was, standing in a class as the youngest person by far wondering what it was all about I guess I learnt the hard way because as they say 'My cup was already full!' I left my first class still wondering what it was all about and what had actually happened?! I hadnt learnt any special or secret Martial techniques I didnt even know what I was doing, but as my brain started to let go of all the questions it just couldnt answer I realised something else, how i felt! I was buzzing I still didnt know why because in my mind we hadnt really done anything? I had loads of energy and I felt peaceful at the same time.

 I still remember that feeling after that first class to this day as it blew my mind and my preconceptions to bits! That feeling kept me going for at least the next two years, I was hooked by this strange Art and I wanted to unravel its mysteries and find out what it was all about, My teacher at the time concentrated on teaching us Warm up/Stretching Exercises and various Qigong (Energy work) forms/patterns and the Standard Yang style Tai Chi form, we did various partner work exercises and everyrhing we did was centred around Relaxing the muscles through correct body alignment, proper breathing, and Mind Intention. after at least two years I can say I was starting to get a feeling of it, I hadnt learnt anything of Martial value so i thought, but by that time I wasnt so interested and had almost forgot that it was a Martial art at all! 

But what I did gain was alot more energy, better focus for my other practises, I was alot more relaxed in mind and body and I healed old injuries that plagued me for many years. The most notable being hip and back pain from an injury I sustained when I was 13yrs old, I had broken my hip and my pelvis in two places and nearly broken my spine and suffered in my late teens with pain in my hip and back. I also suffered from asthma when I was young and still relied on the use of an inhaler from time to time.
After about two years of Qigong and Tai Chi training 3/4 times a week. The asthma Inhaler was never needed again and the pain in my hip/pelvis area and spine was gone completely! I was convinced too that i had grown at least 2 inches in that time! I was starting to realise that Tai Chi and Qigong were teaching me more about myself than what i was learning about them? I asked my teacher about the martial side of Tai Chi Chuan as the translation literally means Grand Ultimate Fist/Boxing and why we werent learning that side of it all and he just said you are! Which confused me to say the least.


Luckily for me he started showing me some of the applications of Tai Chi Chuan and the movements that I had been doing for two years like 'Waving Hands Like Clouds' 'Single Whip' 'Bird spread Wings' etc and then slowly the Form i had been learning took on a completely different meaning and started to get deeper and deeper and still does to this day!

 I can safely say that Tai Chi Chuan is a very effective and complete Martial Art which utilises in its arsenal Traditional Chinese Medicine theory and how energy circulates through the body and how to promote or hinder that flow for healing or self defence purposes, it has joint locks, throws, punches, kicks, slaps, strikes using fingers elbows, knees you name it and its there hidden within the forms all you need to extract them is pateince, hard work(gongfu) and a generous teacher free of ego restraints that will pass on the knoweledge directly.

 I have been lucky and trained with various teachers he could demonstrate the martial side of Tai Chi but unfortunately there arent that many teachers that can demonstrate the Martial side of Tai Chi, which is why it is often over looked as a practical martial art, and referred to as a low impact health dance by many! The truth is Tai Chi was never primarily a health art it was a combat martial art used on the battle field and to protect China's Elite. The health side came as a direct after product of the training. Tai Chi principles, training and philosophy were kept as a treasured secret, being passed down strictly to family members over 100's of years. The only problem with keeping secrets was that masters would often pass away without passing on their art to worthy students or family members and unfortunately alot of information has been lost with them.

The truth is that most people take up Tai Chi for its health benefits and that is fine, but to truly benefit from all of its health giving properties the Martial side should never be totally overlooked!

Whatever your reason for wanting to take up this Art the most important thing is to Start! to relax, and with patience and perseverance  learn  the philsophy of yin and yang in your  movements and your stillness and let them become a part of your everyday life, then the Mind, Body and spiritual benefits wont be far behind! Just remember to take your time, to Breathe - Smile - and  enjoy the journey!