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Student Spotlight


Every couple of months we are going to focus on one of the people who have been training with me at Three Treasures. We’ll find out a little about who they are and what they have experienced while training in Tai Chi, Xing Yi and the other arts covered in the school. 

Through this, perhaps we’ll get an idea of their personal journey, how it has affected them and perhaps see what has changed. 

Everyone's path before and during these arts are different. We come into to them with a different outlook, character and life experiences. The Internal Arts, like any art will take us on a path that is all our own.  

But at our core, we will be similar.

Susan Dye from Hitchin, age 60  

What is your training history and why did you try Tai Chi, Xing Yi & Qi Gong? 

I studied long fist kung fu with Chet Alexander in Hitchin in the 1990s more or less by accident. I joined a women's self defence class in Letchworth and I enjoyed his teaching so much that I soon joined his Rainbow Warrior School in Hitchin. We practised meditation, form and full contact sparring. The practice enabled me to cope physically and mentally with chemotherapy for lymphoma. 

Chet moved to the USA and I stopped training for many years. 

I had a friend who practiced Chi Gung seriously, another who had trained in shiatsu and a work colleague in his 70s who swore by tai chi to keep him active and well.  

This made me curious about Tai Chi and I joined a class locally with a remarkable teacher, Richard Lang, when I was home hospicing my mother in 2012. This was incredibly helpful bringing me focus and calm which I could draw on in crisis situations with Mum.  

What got you to try Three Treasures? 

In early 2020 Chris started a new class in Tai Chi at the Letchworth Centre for Healthy Living. This was at a time when I had set a goal to get back to some form of exercise. Covid meant we soon moved to online classes, but these worked well for me, and it was the best thing about the lockdowns having so few distractions from training.  

What is it about the Chinese Internal Arts that you find appealing? Why do they work for you? 

One of my favourite books is Tao The Watercourse Way by Alan Watts. I love the sense of flow inherent in the Chinese internal arts. I have tried Yoga and Pilates and they didn't feel so good somehow. I found the exercises Chris gave us were a delight. Getting stronger didn't feel as if I was fighting my body or mind.  

What’s your job or lifestyle. How easy is it for you to train?  

I am self-employed and my work routine can change from day to day or week to week. Part of what I do is teach people how to grow and use traditional dye plants which is a mix of physical and sedentary work. I'm always taking on new challenges so sometimes work does mean I miss class. I also travel to Norfolk several times a month to help care for my elderly Dad.  

Do you have lots of time or is it about fitting in the training around other tasks when you can?


The only barrier to training is my own self-discipline. It seems to be an eternal challenge to develop a regular practice. I'm not a morning person so I can't leap out of bed and do one of the early online classes. I sometimes do some exercises to wake up fully in the mornings (though I find this very hard) and some leg strengthening exercises at the end of the day. Being able to join regular online live classes is brilliant. It helps keep me focussed between in face to face classes. 

Which classes do you normally choose and why? How often do you go to classes, and do you train outside of class? 

I usually attend a Tuesday lunchtime online class and a Friday daytime in person class every week. I sometimes drop into other 'in person' classes if I can't manage to attend the Friday class. I would like more online live classes at lunchtimes like we had during Covid but I have the recorded classes to use if only I could have the discipline to use them!  

I used to train outside twice a week with a fellow student in a local park but her job changed and I haven't been able to keep going on my own. When I am caring for Dad we do a gentle 9 circles together every day and I do some standing exercises while he watches the TV. When I am in Norfolk I can join Online classes easily and this is really valuable. 


What do you enjoy most about the classes and what are the main benefits you see from the practice? 

I enjoy so many aspects! Chris and all the students are such lovely people and we have a real sense of community. Learning to perceive subtle inner changes is like rock climbing - you become so focussed that all other concerns and thoughts fall away and you finish class completely refreshed mentally and physically. I also feel stronger than I have ever been and can lift things safely now. It's done wonders for my manual handling skills lifting heavy dye pots of water. 

I think that the training has also brought me a sense of calm in my work and I have been able to be more confident to take on new opportunities and be less anxious about how they will turn out. I think the training has made me more patient with my 94 year old Dad and better able to appreciate the world from his viewpoint physically.  

What things do you practice most when training alone? 

Warmup Swings, Nine Circles Qi Gong, Standing (Zhan Zhuang) and if I have time, Cloud Hands.  

What are the most common things that get in the way of training? 

My unfocussed mind and giving other people and other things priority. 


What are the things you find hardest in Tai Chi and Xing Yi? 

The Xing Yi stance is harder than Tai Chi. I would like more practice with the new form as I missed some of the key classes due to injury (playing football!)  

What do you hope to achieve with your practice, where do you see it going?  

I hope to be able to keep learning with Chris via the Monkey Temple in the years ahead. I would love to learn the form and be able to do it well.  

I would like to keep training for as long as possible to keep my health and mobility as I get older.  Developing a daily practice would be a great achievement for me. 


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