Malcolm Droy is the principle instructor for South West Tai Chi. Malcolm has
been practicing Tai Chi for nearly 40 years and teaching full time for about 19 years.
Malcolm first studied Yang Style Tai Chi under Chu King Hung and before becoming a student of
Karel Koskuba at the CIAA. About 25 years ago Malcolm switched to Chen style Tai Chi and now follows the teaching methods of Grand Master Chen Xiao Wang. Malcolm has studied under the
guidance of Karel and Eva Koskuba and with Ben Milton at the Bristol School of Tai Chi.
Several of Malcolm's students now teach in their own right and in association with the school.
Their details can be found on the Links page
Below is some information on Malcolm's background in Tai Chi presented in the style of an interview.
How many years have you been practicing Tai Chi?
For nearly 40 years. I first studied under Chu King Hung after being introduced to Tai Chi by the
great Karate master Hirokazu Kanazawa.
What stimulated your interest?
It's difficult to remember specifically. I had been studying Karate for a while. I was immediately impressed with Tai Chi. I remember thinking that
Tai Chi seemed a more cerebral approach to the martial arts than Karate. Looking back I think I must have been rather uncoordinated and I was
struggling to understand how to move correctly in Karate. As soon as I started to study Tai Chi I felt I was on the right track.
What does Tai Chi mean to you?
Well, to put it in a nutshell (or two) 'the way to rejuvenation' through the 'art of whole body movement'. Tai Chi has many facets and underlying
connections to subjects like Taoist philosophy, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Health and Fitness, Self Defence and Martial Arts. All these parts
interest me and in turn, help to keep me interested in the art as a whole. I believe Tai Chi has kept me strong, flexible and in robust health. That's
something I appreciate more and more now I am in my 60's. 'Whole body movement' is for me the key to understanding Tai Chi. It's the root of the health giving aspects of the art. I wouldn't want to lose that feeling.
What is the most important aspect for you?
When I first started practising Tai Chi I was primarily interested in the martial aspects of the art. Over the years I have grown to appreciate the
health side more and more. When I look around at the general population, I can see there are many health conscious and fit young people out
there. I can also see that from middle age onwards people are often starting to see their health slip away. I'm quite evangelistic about Tai Chi as
the way of staying strong and young for longer and as an excellent exercise into later years.
Who or What inspired you?
First of all it has been the art itself. This is quite personal but my experience has been that Tai Chi has the effect of making deep and gradual
changes in the student. For me it began with growing strength and outward coordination, then deeper feelings inside. Over a longer period I
have become aware of an increasing calmness in my nature. I feel I'm still on the right road. I'd also like to say a few words about the teachers
who have guided me. Their skills and endeavours have set the standards to which I aspire. I owe thanks to them all.
Do you have any personal Goals in Tai Chi?
If I had no goals, I wouldn't be able to continue the journey. Life is about change. I continue to aspire to higher levels and skills in Tai Chi. I still
want to become stronger, calmer and more flexible. In particular I continue to aspire to deeper levels of relaxation on the inside whilst becoming stronger on the outside. (Or is it the other way round?)
What do you make of Tai Chi's current levels of popularity?
I think within the general population, there's a great increase in health consciousness, particularly amongst the well educated, that spills over into
more people trying Tai Chi. I'm especially excited about the number of students turning up to over 60's classes. The over 60's group seem to be
able to really appreciate the benefits Tai Chi exercise brings and they are a pleasure to teach.
As a teacher, how do you feel about the martial aspects of the art?
For me they are very important and I have always been interested in both studying and teaching the martial components of Tai Chi. I believe that
Tai Chi training can lay down a very solid martial foundation that goes hand in hand with the health aspects of the training. Failure to pay
attention to the martial aspects of Tai Chi may reduce the benefits in health improvement. (This may be particularly true for those students who
don't pay attention to Pushing Hands exercises). There is no doubt that most of my students come to me interested in Tai Chi primarily as a
health exercise system and I guess that is something to do with a perception in the general population about what Tai Chi is. Nevertheless,
students prepared to explore the martial aspects of the art will grow in their understanding of Tai Chi and will earn some self-defence skills to boot.
What are your views on competition?
I have mixed views about competitions. On the one hand they don't seem a very spiritually mature thing to do. Setting out to compare yourself to
others hardly reaches for the lofty plateaus of self-realisation. On the other hand if you want to get some hot martial practice against a real opponent then it's a relatively safe way to do it.
What direction would you like to see Tai Chi going in the future?
The one thing that concerns me about the future of Tai Chi is standards. There are a growing number of people practising and teaching Tai Chi
and already a very diverse group of opinions about what Tai Chi is. I think Tai Chi always faces the danger of being watered down into
ineffectual exercises. It's up to Tai Chi teachers to ensure they always aspire to high standards of teaching and continue to pay attention to the
martial aspects of the art. I hope the TCUGB will continue to battle for high standards and that it and others will encourage good connections
between teachers in the West and the true centres of excellence in China.