Thames Tai Chi & Qi Gong

“Be still as a mountain, flow like a great river”

Mark Preston and Frances Turner teach under the auspices of the T’ai Chi Foundation

T’ai Chi Chuan is an ancient exercise which embodies China’s most profound concepts and principles of health and movement. It offers true harmony between body and mind.

            South Oxfordshire classes are detailed below



12 noon on  Wednesday JULY the 25th


Hayden Farm, Hayden Lane, Nettlebed, RG9 5TX 

Regular classes will start from 19th September 2018


CHOLSEY – The PAVILION, Station Road                 OX10 9PT TUESDAY MORNINGS

Tuesday July 24th 9.00-10.00am       

Then a summer break until regular classes restart on Tuesday 11th September                   

The 8 Ways of T’ai Chi Chuan and  Qi Gong                           (drop in possible)

Drop in on any class 


Then pay in advance pro rata at £8 



OX10 9PP

Wednesdays 6.30 – 7.30pm Weekly class in the Yang Style Short Form – first class FREE, please ring to check availability


Advanced form classes continue 7.40-8.30pm


BENSON – The Canon’s Room, St Helen’s Church,  OX10 6SF

The 8 Ways of T’ai Chi Chuan and  Qi Gong (drop in possible)   

THURSDAY July 26th 10.00 to 11.00 am – last class of summer term

THURSDAY 13th Sept 10.00am, regular classes recommence and continue until Christmas


then pay in advance pro rata at £8 


BRIGHTWELL cum SOTWELL  –  Brightwell Village Hall   OX10 0RY

Weekly class in the Yang Style Short Form – Wednesdays 9.30 – 10.30am

July 25th last class of summer term

Beginners introduction Wed 12th September 10.00am – ALL WELCOME


 First class FREE, please ring to check availability: 07966 253399


Cost £8 per hour pro rata



EWELME – Village Hall   OX10 6HP  


Currently on a break over the summer

ALL WELCOME TO JOIN ON TUESDAYS at 3.30pm from Tues 11th September


Then pay in advance pro rata at £8 



The first class is free – details below


Now that Thames T’ai Chi is active in four venues (with more opening soon), please know that if you have paid in full for any one course you can make up a missed class in any venue on a “one for one” swap basis for free.

An additional £20 BUYS YOU AS MANY CLASSES AS YOU WISH in any venue for the whole term

For those on low income concessionary rates are available by private arrangement


Contact Mark by phone or email   M:  07966 253399     E:

My chosen charity for 2017 has now been extended into 2018. If you would like to know why I chose the London Air Ambulance (and donate if you wish) then please follow this link.


Based on softness and awareness (rather than force and resistance) Tai Chi Chuan (also referred to as Tai Chi, Tai Ji, or Taijiquan) has been recognized for centuries as both a method of self-cultivation and an unexcelled form of self defence. T’ai Chi means “Supreme Ultimate.”

Practiced at a slow and even speed, Tai Chi promotes relaxation, straight posture, and balance. Tai Chi movements are widely acknowledged to help calm the emotions, focus the mind, and strengthen the immune system. In a very real sense, Tai Chi helps us to stay younger as we grow older, thus making an outstanding contribution to our overall health and well-being. Please scroll down to read about Qi Gong.

Thames Tai Chi is based in Cholsey near Wallingford, south Oxfordshire and is a newly opened branch of the Tai Chi Foundation – a not-for-profit educational organisation that draws on over 30 years of experience whose members seek to study and teach Tai Chi Chuan as a way to bring health and consciousness to humanity. See:

For information on our London classes please refer to:

First and foremost T’ai Chi Chuan is a discipline for the accumulation, cultivation and refinement of Qi. This refinement can only be successfully conducted with a relaxed mind and body. The Qi is directed and accumulated in an energetic centre known as the Dan Tien located in the lower abdomen – we sense our body and it’s movements from this centre. In relaxing our mind and emotions to the Dan Tien, the internal chatter we always have can calm and subside.

The meditation of T’ai Chi is not one in which we shut out the outside world to go within. It is a balancing of internal and external awareness. It allows us to deal with the world from a more grounded, centred base. In this way, T’ai Chi meditation is a very practical tool, at work for us through our day.

The postures and movements help the body to release tension in the muscles and encourage flexibility in the joints.  The slow shifting of weight from foot to foot strengthens the legs and helps the circulation of blood through the body. The rhythmical contraction and relaxation of the leg muscles helps to move the blood and reduces the workload of the heart. The feet are flat on the ground and the form is practised low, with the knees relaxed, developing our stability and balance. The spine is straight, improving our posture.

The practice of Tai Chi also improves our health by encouraging the circulation of our internal Qi energy throughout the body. In Chinese medicine it is said “blood follows Qi”, so the circulation of Qi nourishes the health of the internal organs. Our joints and musculature are gently opened and stretched enhancing flexibility and relaxation. Tai Chi is an excellent weight bearing exercise providing real benefits in the prevention and management of osteoporosis.

It is said that with diligent practice of Tai Chi Chuan over time one will develop the “flexibility of a child, the strength of a lumberjack and the peace of mind of a sage”.

Through our daily practice of this slow and conscious movement, we re-connect with our essential self, so our Tai Chi is a path to deeper self-understanding and transcendent spirit.  Although Tai Chi Chuan is an embodiment of Confucian and Taoist philosophy, it speaks the universal language of harmony and unity.

The Tai Chi symbol is the familiar black and white circle, gracefully depicting the balance of opposites, with each half containing the seed of its opposite. Ultimately, we see how our individual sense of balance and harmony expands to our interaction with others and the world around us.

There are different ideas on the origin of Tai Chi. One of the most common is that of a monk who, in observing the attacking and defending movements of a bird and a snake, conceived of a method of self defence that was based on relaxation, timing and balance rather than muscular strength.

Tai Chi was taught at first within families, developing into 4 or 5 family styles. As a martial art it was kept in the family, withheld for the master and his few disciples. In the past century it was made available to more of the Chinese populace at large, and then to the Western world. Perhaps the most popular style of Tai Chi today is the Yang style (from the Yang family) short form (37 postures, rather than 150 or so), through the teaching of Prof. Cheng Man-Ch’ing (sometimes called Cheng Man-Ch’ing style).

Roots & Branches © 5 Element Qi Gong

Qi Gong literally means “exercises for strengthening qi”. It is a generic term that is used to describe a considerable variety of schools of thought and approaches to the practice of developing the Qi. Like much of traditional Chinese culture, it’s origins are shrouded in mystery. There are traditions of practice and cultivation which emphasise quiet sitting and / or standing exercise postures. There are also traditional practices which develop the movements of Qi and use them to animate the entire body.

In the School of T’ai Chi Chuan (sometimes written Tai Ji Quan) that I am apprenticed to as a teacher we enjoy a unique “5 Element Qi Gong” as part of our “Roots and Branches” work. This practice is both energetic and healing as it condenses T’ai Chi into standing postures, walks and shifting movements.  By integrating principle, breath and focus in the “tan tien” with awareness of the Chinese Five Elements, this work generates, circulates and unblocks “qi” or “chi” (vital energy) allowing it to nourish us at the very deepest level, proving a valuable work for students of all experience levels, and open to both complete beginners and non Tai Chi practitioners.

Roots & Branches is both the simplest and deepest work in our tradition. Accessible to the athlete as well as the bedridden, to those who wish to study deeply, and those with no time at all. It can restore health and strength, emotional equilibrium, mental clarity and spiritual awareness.

Patrick Watson was intitiated into this work when Prof. Cheng Man-Ching gave him postures and movements for his health. In the mid1970s Patrick decided the School of Tai Chi Chuan should preserve this work and asked Pat Gorman to interview everyone Prof. Cheng Man-Ching had worked with in this way: their illness, Chinese diagnosis, assigned work and results. A Five Elements acupuncturist and one of the School of Tai Chi Chuan’s legacy holders, Patty Gorman has worked with fellow legacy holder Gerrie Sporken to transform this information into the Roots & Branches Qi Gong program.

In Qi Gong the three levels of Jing, Qi and Shen are all present. The flowering of Shen – spiritual work, meditation – needs a strong foundation, a grounding in body awareness and emotional balance. Work on a Qi and Jing Level – physical and energetic practice, is incomplete without the spark of Shen.

In an ongoing natural process, Jing is refined into Qi and Qi is refined into Shen. The process can be called the “nourishing line”. Jing nourishes Qi and Qi nourishes Shen. Refinement and nourishment are supported by an appropriate lifestyle and the practice of Qi Gong. The Shen can then become a guiding light for Qi and Jing.

In other words if you take care of your Jing, your essential store of energy, and if you cultivate a good flow of Qi, you have created the potential for the flowering of spirit. Once spirit has flowered, it can use its beauty in a return journey, leading Qi, which then reinforces Jing. (Refer also to the “Cultivating Qi section”).

© T’ai Chi Foundation, Pat Gorman, Gerrie Sporken