Mountain River

Imagine educating your mind & body while  integrating postural, cardiovascular, aerobic, relaxing, rejuvenating, philosophical & meditative workouts.
Rolled up inside a tranquil, stress busting & fun self defence system.

Tai Chi Chuan or TaiJi
© Keith Robertson 2018

Tai Chi, also written as TaiJi, is a Chinese Martial Art (That's the Chuan bit). This Martial Art;, for the past 100 years has become an exercise system based on the Taoist philosophy of Yin & Yang. Natural forces that oppose each other, but are considered necessary and in fact so important that they are the building blocks upon which everyting within the Universe acts upon & within.

Tai Chi has everything is circles or cyclitic , but to grow or at least avoid decline we should expand our horizons, keep our body moving and to balance better our stressful lives, look for calmness within.  Within this embodiment of quietude, balancing upon our very central core; improving our stature, posture, suppleness, flexibility, dynamism.

Working our core muscles, reviewing how we stand, walk and use / missuse our bodies, from a Traditional Chinese Medicine idea, and ancient Chinese practices, that help us heal and rejuvenate on a cellular basis, rather than replicate as is fitting for us as we grow into adulthood. Thus Tai Chi is more suited to adults rather than children. As such Mountain River Tai Chi, teaches adults to realign their bodies (we all often get out of kilter / have injuries that have lasting effects). 

Relearning how to move, we make up for the lack of training we had as babies & children. Where we copied falling forwards (and falling over), until we taught ourselves to throw our bodies forward to make what we call a step. As a result we have  our heads sticking forwards, and since we failed to stand upright before we started using our forelegs as hands; we depend upon over using muscles to hold us in check. Instead of being stable and using less effort, thus conserving our energy sources and allowing us to live for as long as possible without dementia nor  "the aches pains of growing old". 

Whilst the Martial side of Tai Chi is hopefully less needed in our civilised society, proving that the actions we take are firmly routed in ancient traditional training, means we can rest assured that we are not being sold the latest craze, that eventually we will be advised to steer clear of.

Mountain River Tai Chi has been running for 25 years and has helped many to prove to themselves the value of the Tai Chi  taught. This is important as many gyms, have Tai Chi classes, but just like many corner shops advertise ballet, dance, guitar and or piano lessons etc.; that is no guarantee that you will become a famous musical celebrity. The Tai Chi taught, has come directly from Disciples of the Yeung Family. Further since 2000 direct instructions in English have come third and first hand. Yeung Sau Chung, first son of Yang Cheng Fu had three daughters and his middle daughter Yeung Ma Lee teaches a few people. 

Keith Robertson founded Mountain River in 1993, giving up a career in the City to teach full time in 1998. Keith continues to train with information direct from the Yeung Family, in Hong Kong. One of the few full time teachers and one of only four people to have trained with Ip Tai Tak 1st Disciple, Chu Gin Soon 2nd Disciple, Chu King Hung 3rd Disciple of Yeung Sau Chung and most importantly Yeung Ma Lee and her Husband James, under the umbrella of the Yeung Ma Lee Student Association established by John Conroy, Joe Balthazhar & Jim Uglow.

Chi Kung (Qi Gong)

For many years Chi Kung has been seen as separate from, but integral with Martial Art training. Since 2006 the Yeung Family in Hong Kong has through Yeung Ma Lee's husband James, been teaching a select few Americans and Eurpoeans. Previous to this, only one disciple of Yeung Sau Chung was taught any Qi Gong. 

There are many branches of Qi Gong. Each system has it's own roots. The basic idea is to try to enhance one's natural endowment of vital energy, removing toxins and so healing oneself. There is a hymn called 'fight the good fight' and that would sum up the idea quite well. Self healing or detoxing is important as our sources of energy are constantly being degraded and polluted. Healing others is best left to Doctors and Nurses. Reducing your reliance on them as much as possible, and hopefully not needing carers, should be a goal. If we can die with our boots on, far better than slipping into the alternatives.

Qi Gong, aims to help us restore our natural ability to defend ourselves from illness. Provides us with a Quest to be upon; ridding the body of harmful cells and repairing and building our stamina, inner strength and well being.

Qi Gong from the Yeung Family (often written as Yang, but not to be confused with those outside of HongKong), compliments and works with the Tai Chi skills, interweaving and cross fertilising both. thus Nurturing and Nourish each other, just as Yin and Yang do in all aspects of ancient Chinese thought.

What is Tai Chi?

An Ancient Martial Art, originally designed for and excelling at winning any fight. The Yeung (Yang) family had and have an incredible achievement in the fighting arts, never beaten. This in a world far from ours, where challenges and attempts to better another school of Martial art brought great prestige, fame and fortune. Today we are assailed by other battles, stress being perhaps one of the biggest disruptions of our inner peace. Of course then as now, health is the greatest battle we face. We all shall pass on at some stage and whilst we cannot stop the inevitable, slowly down the rate & speed we lose is of vital importance to us as we progress from growth into decline. The early Martial Artist had to be healthy to fight and the Chinese Shaolin tradition of getting up out of meditative pose and putting some life back into their limbs, kicked off the Martial Arts. Nowadays, there is huge interest and investment in Healthy Lifestyle and most have been to the gym and attended one class after another in the hope of training. However this training is often solely for the benefit of being seen to do training like running, jogging, cycling, box-a-cise, etc. else in the case of Yoga, Pilates, Alexandra Technique etc., the training is more internal but can still be aimless.  Mindfulness as an empty mantra. Martial Arts also has fallen into disrepair and often has become either mainstream sport like Karate, Judo, TaiKwanDo or agressive violence like Special Ops training, e.g. JuJitsu, Ninja, Mixed Martial Arts. All have benefits, but few have as rounded gains as traditional Chinese Kung Fu.

Tai Chi, and associated Chi Kung training, has at their core the intent to build ones own character, learning respect for ancestral knowledge while repairing the body to fight the degeneration of aging. Rolled into a Martial Art, which allows for an in-depth feeling of the body and energy. This understanding of our place in the Universe, coupled with strengthening the systems and removing the reliance on muscles alone to move. The Martial side allows proof of concept testing, and if performed in a safety first manner, learnt over decades not minutes, provides the path for us to follow. 

Why is it of value today?

We are all on a journey, a journey through life, how we go about that journey now may well dictate how we end it later.

This path is known as the Tao in Chinese ancient thought, which can be called the middle way or balanced approach. The dualistic nature of Yin and Yang as demonstrated by Sun and Moon, Night & Day, Him & Her, Work & Play, Stress and Rest, Up & Down, Left & Right, Forward & Back etc.etc. In Britain we do not have the European advantage of Masculine & Feminine in our Language. Whilst it is silly to think of tables and doors being in a relationship with other inanimate objects; the relationship of coupled ideas bring about a straightening of curves and breaking of continuous lines. This softening, or smoothing of the edges, helps to bring about peacefulness. Tranquility, and the ability to retain your temper and keep calm, are how we fight the daily stresses of life. A racing car driver, has trained to react quickly and accurately with their feet and hands as they hurtle themselves around a concrete & tarmac track with others vying for the same race lines. 

Tai Chi, has many ideas, each can be honed into a skill. Multi-skills allows us to retain brain activity and is proven to improve our chances of staying active for longer, and fighting dementia and other degenerative issues. Moving the body, gently stretching our tendons helps us to use it or lose it. Anyone over 27 years in rowing terms was considered a veteran; at least that was in my day years ago when I rowed on the Thames. Now at age 27 one races as an A Master all the way up to K Master (for 83 year olds). This is because the body ceases to grow and starts to wane between 27-35, after which it is all pretty much down hill. However just as they have rowers in the Master category K, we can; if we invest in ourselves, post training to grow; train to retain. Tai Chi is one of the best vehicles for this transformation from Yang to Yin training. 

Who is it for


Quite simply this is not for kids, they need to grow. So Adults in the age range 27-83, broadened out to say 21-85 (see previous page above) as some plan for their pensions earlier & others start late. Provided you have commitment, or at least are prepared to spend a considerable amount of your life, looking after what you have. Tai Chi & / or Chi Kung training with Mountain River offers many benefits. 

You must be of sound mind, and appreciate that learning a new discipline is not swift nor particularly easy. Neither is becoming a Formula 1 racing driver! You must be able to stand for an hour, but we can build to that and further goals if need be. As I only teach in English, you will need to hear, the instructions, follow the movements and to get any real benefits repeat them regularly until they are coded in. 

Part of learning with Mountain River involves paying for the lessons, thus you will need a job and or pension to draw upon! As my first teacher said, "first family therefore need to work, then can do other things". He also famously said "One Way One Way". If you ask me a direct question I may provide an indirect answer. You can ask me what you like provided I can answer as I like.

When are the classes

Mountain River is a one man band. As such I teach each class and after 25 years of running Mountain River, I have to look after my current students. So due to COVID  new beginners are only accepted:-

1-2-1 basis at £60phr

Private tuition can lead to joining a class earlier.

For details see below and or use the email contact address shown at the bottom of this site.

Where are the classes

Following hall closures due to COVID, space is difficult to organise. so at the moment the only options are:-

Wednesday evenings 5:30pm on a a pre booked 1-2-1 bass are held in the Friendship Club, (behind Carfax Court block of flats) Oxford Road North, W4 4DN

please see the maps below:-

Alternatively at my home in Hampton which is a TW12 postcode

How to join

Please decide if you wish to await the next entry point (first Wednesday of either February, May or October) and contact via the email link below closer to the date, to register your interest. If you email earlier, and circumstances change I will revert with those changes. alternatively consider starting with Private Tuition. This allows for you to learn at your own pace, and can be the gateway to joining the group classes when most useful to you.

If you wish to start earlier, then the options are Private Tuition possibly in your own home / garden, mine (Hampton TW12) or at the Friednship club, where I may occasionally  have a slot (late afternoons). Private Tuition is on an agreed time frame basis generally during the week during the day. Private Tuition does not have to be on any regular basis, & can lead to joining a weekly group.

Private tuition is also the best route for those interested solely in Chi Kung (Qi Gong).

How Much

Current fees are £60 per hour or £75 if shared with another friend or partner.

Contact Mountain River