In Linda’s own words…
My Tai Chi training began in Edinburgh in 1974 with Sandy Cuthbert, an architect who had been living in Arizona and had learned Yang Style Tai Chi from a man who had learned it San Francisco from a Chinese master in a park. That was the story. I studied with Sandy for five years and when he left for Hong Kong, I worked with several other Yang style teachers and also with Ian Cameron from Wu style.
When our family moved to Manchester in 1980, I began to teach. I set up my own school, Village Hall Tai Chi, and also started classes at Withington Hospital on the psychiatric ward. Then I taught for many years at Burton House, a geriatric ward. These special classes marked the beginning of my interest in making Tai Chi available to all students, regardless of disability or health needs. Twenty years later, this work culminated in the formation of the Tai Chi Forum for Health which trains Tai Chi teachers to work with students who have various kinds of special health needs.
I loved the years when Tai Chi came first in my life. At the peak, I was teaching 4 to 5 classes a week (one or two being special classes in hospitals), attending one or two classes for my own pleasure and doing my own daily practice. Several times a year I also attended seminars given by visiting masters. This meant I was spending up to 20 hours a week doing Tai Chi! I helped set up the Tai Chi Union for Great Britain, wrote many articles for Tai Chi magazines and also wrote lots of poems based on Tai Chi experiences.
The partner work of Tai Chi, called pushing hands, is another great love of mine. It ranges from sensitivity exercises to actual sparring. Mostly, I practised and taught the softer range of pushing hands and often worked with groups of women to develop grounding skills and confidence. Over the years, I adapted many pushing hands techniques to use with my special students.
Throughout my Tai Chi training I have worked with wonderful teachers, attempting to learn at least one thing from each of them. Some of my teachers are: Sandy Cuthbert, Elizabeth Smith, Richard Farmer, Ian Cameron, Linda Lehrhaupt, Nigel Sutton, Aarvo Tucker, Lawrence Galante, Ben Lo, William Chen, Yang Jwing Ming.
My other mode of learning and enjoying Tai Chi has come through practice with my many Tai Chi brothers and sisters over thirty years. I have probably learned more than one thing from each of them. My Tai Chi family includes: Oli Senior, Chris Davies, John Meyers, Juliet Vincon, Christine Perardel, David Welsh, Brian Cookman, Libi Welthy, Mike Tabrett, Ronnie Robinson, Bob Lowey, John Bolwell, Doris Hofton, John Wilson, Dan Aris, Tamsin Carr, Sharon Warden, Neville Roland, Claus Albermann, Helmut Oberlak, Michael Ploetz, Derek May, Jack Everett, Larry Butler, Cary Outis, Adrian Murray, Sheila Aimson and Trevor Taylor as well as many others.
I have been active in the Tai Chi Union, the European Federation of Tai Chi and, of course, my beloved Tai Chi Forum for Health. Due to my specialist interests in pushing hands and Tai Chi for students with various disabilities, I was invited to teach throughout Europe and the UK. Through these workshops and seminars I met so many dedicated and highly skilled students and teachers and feel immensely grateful for having had these opportunities.
In 1998 I closed my school, Village Hall Tai Chi, in order to concentrate on studying, writing and teaching poetry. In 2003 I stopped teaching Tai Chi altogether, though of course I continue to enjoy my own practice. If anyone asks what happened to my Tai Chi, I say, ‘Now I do Tai Chi like a normal person—just a little every day.’