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Heron has been studying ancient Chinese meditative arts and the philosophical teachings of the Far East since his late teens. His work and research span over thirty years in six different countries: Britain, the United States, Canada, Hong Kong, Mainland China, and Taiwan where he lived for seventeen years. Amid an odyssey of teachers and teachings, he trained closely for years at a time with high level practitioners in a variety of art forms. His key interests are in C’hi Kung for core health, self cultivation through classical Taoist teachings, and the practice of internal martial arts as a form of living philosophy.
C’hi Kung, which literally means energy work, is the cultivation of intrinsic energy, an impalpable essence that forms the fabric of life as viewed by the philosophers and priest-physicians of ancient China. Pooling from this energy within and around us, we are able to renew and revitalise ourselves. The forms and styles of C’hi Kung are myriad and beyond the scope of this brief introduction, but there are essentially four main categories of C’hi Kung practice: nei kung; wai kung; dao yin nei kung; and dao yin wai kung, terms that describe different configurations of movement and stillness. A selection of some of the C’hi Kung methods that Heron teaches are as follows:
Taoist philosophy’s two most pivotal works are the Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing) and the Book of Chuangtzu (Zhuangzi). The teachings in these two seminal texts pervade all of the Chinese arts in one fashion or another and influence Chinese thought in general. Composed during periods of political turmoil in ancient China, they serve as guides for survival in harsh times and provide blueprints for coping with the difficulties in daily life. The principles when applied do not change that reality; they simply show us how to transcend the struggles of existence without cutting off from the splendour of life itself.
Centred around Lao Tzu’s teaching that softness overcomes hardness, T’ai Chi Ch’uan is a training of body, mind and spirit conducted through a martial framework. Early practitioners began with individual martial applications that were in time joined together to become a long flowing chain of interlinking postures. This, they discovered, served as a potent method of cultivating energy. The art draws from areas of Han Chinese culture as diverse as classical Taoism, Chinese medicine, C’hi Kung, shamanism, and the Chinese martial arts. Greater than the sum of its parts, T’ai Chi Ch’uan is a tool for self cultivation, physical protection, health preservation, and the capacity to free the mind from the anxieties of modern living.
Based conceptually on the metaphysics of the Chinese Book of Changes (I Ching), Pa Kua Chang (lit. eight trigram palm) is a late 19th Century martial art that develops vigour, energy, and lightness. Renowned for its use by Ch’ing dynasty era bodyguards, some of its earliest roots can be found in the Taoist religious practice of circle walking, an activity in which priests would tread circles with quiet focus while reciting sacred religious texts. Pa Kua practitioners employ nimble, flowing postures that operate out of circles and spirals. At its heart, the training is a form of Ch’i Kung and Taoist cultivation.
Hsing I Ch’uan is the oldest of the internal styles attributed to the Song dynasty general Yue Fei. Its structure and style were developed from the core training of Chinese lancers – the constrains of which allowed only a limited range of movement. The art hones a purity and conciseness that concentrates the power of the practitioner. It applies this through hand movements based on five element theory and the movements of animals – 10, 11 or 12 depending on the specific system. Not only is Hsing I Ch’uan a martial art, it is also the training of mind and energy, a natural form of C’hi Kung and a way of being effective in all of our pursuits.
Seated meditation isolates and focuses the cultivation of mind and allows us to understand the nature of our own consciousness. There are many forms of meditation, the highest of which has no form. Examples of the methods taught are Chan Buddhist clearing meditation, Taoist water wheel meditation, and quiet sitting.
Heron began his studies with his father,
Paul Beecham, who introduced esoteric teachings and martial concepts to him during childhood. In the mid 1980s, through a family friend, he encountered
Dr John Kells, the founder of the British T’ai Chi Ch’uan Association. Heron studied at the BTTCA for ten years where he underwent teacher training and eventually taught advanced classes for Dr Kells. In 1997 he began exploring other areas of the martial arts throughout the UK and over in the United States to broaden his understanding. And then, in 1998, he moved to Taiwan where he researched ancient Chinese art forms and the traditional Chinese culture on the island for the best part of two decades. During this time Heron also made trips over to the Chinese mainland where he explored martial arts and religious Taoism. This was combined with further research in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and other parts of Asia. From 1999 onwards, after a fortuitous meeting in North America, Heron began making regular visits to Vancouver, Canada to study privately with the renowned Shaolin and Internal martial arts master,
In Taiwan, Heron’s most influential teachers have been:
Professor Lin Chang Li, a disciple of Wang Shu Jin with whom he learnt C’hi Kung, meditation, Pa Kua Zhang, T’ai Chi Ch’uan, and Hsing I Ch’uan.
Professor Tang Yi Nan, his teacher in Lao-Chuang philosophy — the philosophical Taoism of the Warring States period. Professor Tang was mentored by the famed Chinese philosopher Mo Zong San, and she is a world class specialist in the writings and teachings of Chuang Tzu.
Master Wang Chin Shi, a disciple of Cheng Man Ching with whom he studied privately in Cheng style T’ai Chi. He also received further teacher training through Master Wang’s Taiwan, Republic of China T’ai Chi association.
Master Shi Kong Ming, a healer and Chan meditation master who teaches a system known as Hsuan Kung (lit. mystery work) from whom Heron learnt both Hsuan Kung teachings and Chan Buddhist meditation.
Master Zhao Fu Lin, with whom Heron studied Shaolin C’hi Kung and a rare style of T’ai Chi called Pa Kua T’ai Chi Ch’uan, a form devised at the famed Nanjing Academy in the 1930s.
Master Guan Feng Zheng, the youngest disciple of Chiang Kai Shek’s famed bodyguard, Liu Yun Chiao, with whom he studied the Yin Style of Pa Kua Chang.
Dr. Wu Wen Hsien, with whom Heron studied C’hi Kung, Tai Chi, Shaolin Ch’uan, meditation, and traditional Chinese medical theory.
During his studies in the East, Heron has published, translated and/or edited works on the Chinese martial arts as well as texts on Buddhist sutras and Chan meditation. He is currently writing about his experiences researching and living on the island of Taiwan.
Heron teaches privately and for charity on behalf of Treat Me UK. Classes are tailored to suit the interests and needs of individual groups. If you would like to know more about private study, or if you are involved with a registered charity and feel that these arts would benefit others, then please contact Heron by email or use the contact form below.