"If you choose to put your valuable time into learning, make sure you have the best instructor you can find..."
This will give you some background of who we are and why Open Palm Taiji can give you expertise in the art...and we don't mind if you call it Tai Chi or Taiji or T'ai Ch'i...
Luke Shepherd (1961–) is the principal instructor and founder of Open Palm Taiji and has been a Director of Tai Chi Nation. He is a student of Patrick Kelly and Week Kee Jin and has been practicing Tai Chi since 1981.
“I started Tai Chi training in the year Prince Charles and Lady Di tied the knot, MTV was launched with “Video Killed the Radio Star” and Ronald Reagan took oath as 40th President. I must have needed something with more meaning! The truth was I hadn’t even heard of Tai Chi when I was offered a course of classes as a gift. I was totally hooked from the first class.
My first teacher was Jay Jones. She was centered and had a quiet calmness. Whatever Tai Chi was I wanted to be like this. Through practicing Tai Chi I began to see that what I needed was to be was myself...and that only this would give me the qualities I sought.
Moving to London a year later, I studied with Adrian Murray a lively and enthusiastic teacher who inspired me to look at the mechanics with accuracy and fine tuning. Returning to Cardiff, my 3rd year of Tai Chi was with Jay’s teacher, Richard Farmer of Rising Dragon Tai Chi. I remained with Richard for the next 13 years. Rising Dragon’s teachings emphasised meditation and personal development with a strong focus on connecting Tai Chi principles to everyday life. Richard was a maverick with a strong Buddhist practice. He took risks and pared Tai Chi down to its essential essence of letting go and remaining centered, His interest was guided by the spiritual aspect of the art.
Luke first started teaching in New Zealand in 1991 and also studied under the guidance of HWL Poonja in India over a 7 year period including during 2 years of living in India.
Between 1995 and 1999 Luke ran the Rising Dragon Cardiff Branch becoming one of the schools senior teachers holding 12 classes a week with over 150 students. During that period he studied Qigong and BuQi with the late Dr Shen Hong Xun for 4 years.
In 1996 Luke met Patrick Kelly. Everything changed.
“When I met Patrick within 20 minutes, he had answered 5 questions that had been burning in me for many years. I was impressed. I was all ready to embark upon a world tour to find a teacher that could show me the true nature of Tai Chi – a spiritual Martial Art that combined deeper wisdom whilst being martially functional. That teacher had come to the UK! I put everything I had learned with Richard on hold and started from scratch. A renewed investigation of all principles and all movements ensued as I saw a new model of what was possible. Patrick turned a 2-D model into a 3-D model and beyond. This was the insight from a truly inspiring and lineage-based teacher I had been looking for”.
At that time I also traveled to Germany to met Wee Kee Jin also a student of Master Huang Shen Shyan.
Luke left Rising Dragon and moved to Devon where he set up Open Palm Taiji in 1999. Since that time he has trained the internal aspects of body and mind, under the guidance of Patrick. He formed Open Palm Taiji to further his own development and share his passion for Tai Chi with those keen to also gain from this art form.
He has taught at Tai Chi Caledonia and continues to instruct sharing his 38 years of practice.
He currently studies with Wee Kee Jin in his continuing exploration of the Huang Shen Shyan Lineage.
Advice from Luke's 38 years training...
"Enjoy your practice and aim to re-aquaint with your quiet place inside. Taiji can be complex, but it's essence is to help us to become simple. That simplicity is always available, but often we cover it over with our preoccupations and the fears we all have and that we take for granted. As a Martial Art, Taiji training helps us to know ourselves, not fight others or fight ourselves. "
Luke divides his time between teaching Tai Chi, his personal training and his work as a sculptor and bronze caster. His hobby is playing guitar and gardening. His current project is i-Chi, through which he offers an authentic online Tai Chi training course. He runs weekend workshops throughout the year.
In lockdown he is also offering 1-2-1 Zoom sessions and Video Commentary.
Luke Shepherd is a student of Patrick Kelly and Wee Kee Jin both of whom he met in 1996. Both are students of the late Master Huang Xiangxian (1910–1992) who he didn't meet.
Patrick spent 20 years studying under Master Huang and Wee Kee Jin lived with Master Huang for 5 years as an in-house student.
From the age of 14 Master Huang practiced the internal Daoist arts and Fujian White Crane. Between 1949 and 1959 he studied with Grand Master Zheng Manqian himself the famous student of Yang Cheng Fu. Huang refined his Taiji for a further 43 years, completing nearly 70 years of intense internal study.
Master Huang headed one of the largest Taiji schools in SE Asia based in Malaysia and is sometimes referred to as Master Huang of Malaysia.
Patrick has systemized Master Huang’s teachings and offers his wealth of experience to perpetuate the internal aspects of Taiji.
Wee Kee Jin's teaching offers a direct approach to experiencing and refining taiji principles.