MEET THE MASTER …
Join us on a remarkable, never-ending journey on the ancient path of traditional Chinese and Japanese martial arts up to the present moment. Your guide is internationally-renowned Tai Chi and Yuishinkai & Ryukyu Kobujutsu Master Edward “Eddie” Jardine.
The focus of his teaching and training is as much about improving health and strength in body and mind as about learning effective self-defence techniques.
The Chinese have a saying that the best form of self-defence is against ill health. In Eddie’s dojo, you will improve your health in body and mind. You will also train to face, overcome – and make friends with – the most important opponent you ever have to face in life: the self.
Along the way, you will train to turn your weaknesses into strengths. You will begin to understand why truly traditional martial arts are about much more than just training in a dojo. As Eddie teaches martial arts in his schools, the training is for all of life, in and outside the dojo.
You will also appreciate why Eddie, as Headmaster of our Tai Chi South Africa School, is a gift. He is the most skillful, knowledgeable and compassionate guide you could wish for on a martial arts journey.
Eddie has been studying martial arts for more than 60 years and teaching for more than 50 years. He trained at source. His journey began in townships outside Johannesburg on the East Rand of the Gauteng province, formerly called the Transvaal. That was during the apartheid era – a time when South Africa was a global pariah.
Eddie started out in the late 1960s training in the hard martial art of karate (JKA – Japan Karate Association). He struggled with his own practice, which he says has made him a better teacher. He was soon in demand as an instructor. He always felt like something elemental was missing and began travelling extensively in the East. Thus began his decades-long ongoing global journey during which he trained under many different teachers in Japan, China and Taiwan.
In Taiwan in 1976, Eddie met a remarkable old man in New Park who was to change his life and martial arts path forever. He had serendipitously crossed paths with one of Taiwan’s most well-known and highly respected Tai Chi Masters, Duan You-zhang Shifu.
Duan Shifu traces his lineage back 700 years to the founders of the Yang Style Tai Chi that Eddie teaches. The two men made eye contact that day in the park. It was a connection both later recalled as electric. As Duan Shifu later put it, the moment their eyes met both knew instantly that they had a “yuan fen” (destiny) together. And so it proved to be.
Duan Sifu, sadly now deceased, became one of Eddie’s most influential and beloved figures in his life. He guided Eddie to pioneer Tai Chi in South Africa and later to establish the first non-racial martial arts school in South Africa, an achievement all on its own during the apartheid era.
Eddie has also pioneered the teaching of the unique, traditional Japanese art of Yuishinkai & Ryukyu Kobujutsu in South Africa. He did so after meeting the founder of Yuishinkai, Inoue Gansho (Motokatsu) O’Sensei, in Shimizu, Japan. Like Duan Shifu, O’Sensei and Eddie were drawn to each other soon after meeting.
In Yuishinkai & Ryukyu Kobujutsu, Eddie soon felt that he had found the balance of hard and soft that he was seeking, the perfect companion with Tai Chi on the path.
In South Africa, he has built Yuishinkai & Ryukyu Kobujutsu into the biggest school outside Japan. After being graded to 6th Dan by O’Sensei, before his untimely passing in 1996, Eddie also became the highest ranked foreigner outside Japan to hold the title of Shihan.
All the detail of Eddie’s multi-faceted martial arts journey is documented in a unique, illustrated biography. It is titled One Moment, One Lifetime, The Story Of Martial Artist Eddie Jardine. It is co-authored by Paul Weinberg, Cape Town-based South African photojournalist and author, and Marika Sboros, a health/medical journalist and author.
WHAT IS TAI CHI?
Tai Chi Chuan or Tai Ji Quan (pinyin spelling), literally translated means the Supreme Ultimate Fist. It is an ancient martial art that is also an intricate system of health exercises to boost wellbeing in body and mind.
In our school, Headmaster Eddie Jardine teaches Yang Style Tai Chi and a variety of sword forms. He also teaches an exquisite fan form that is not strictly Tai Chi but fits in well with the ethos of his philosophical approach to martial arts. Few people would associate the feminine fan with deadly weaponry, but the reality is that just about any object that you can grasp can be used as a weapon. All it requires is appropriate training and awareness of what you are doing and why.
The origins and history of Yang Style Tai Chi are lost in the mists and myths of time. Some historians say that it dates back at least 700 years. One legend has it that an itinerant monk created Tai Chi after watching a stork fighting a snake.
What is not in dispute is that Yang Style Tai Chi has stood the test of time. It is one of the most popular styles that millions across the globe practise to this day.
Fans of Tai Chi like to claim that it can improve or even cure more than 640 ailments, from heart disease to kidney and liver problems, mood disorders, such as depression, insomnia, concentration problems and sexual dysfunction. There is compelling research to suggest that regular practise of Tai Chi is beneficial for cardiovascular health.
Eddie Jardine Shifu takes a more pragmatic approach. He says that Tai Chi doesn’t cure anyone of anything. It simply balances the body and mind, creating the conditions under which the body can do what it is naturally designed to do: heal itself.
There’s good reason that knowledgeable teachers often refer to Tai Chi as a “moving meditation” or “invisible acupuncture”. Regular practise promotes deep, natural breathing that is relaxing and de-stressing. Coupled with its characteristic slow, gentle, twisting, spiralling, stretching and relaxing movements, training Tai Chi becomes a method of internal massage of all bodily organs and systems. That makes it a powerful way of aligning and balancing the body’s energies.
Tai Chi is also an effective form of Chi Kung or Qi Gong (pinyin Spelling), as Chinese energy exercises are known. In China, Tai Chi is often referred to as a “safe form of Chi Kung”. Remember – energy can be used for good or for bad.
For all these reasons and more, Tai Chi Chuan is known as an “internal martial art”. It can also be seen as “softer” when compared with harder, modern martial arts styles, such as Shotokan, Shaolin and Goju Ryu. However, as Jardine Shifu regularly explains to his students during classes, no martial art is either 100% internal or external in application and technique. It is also a mistake to confuse the softness of Tai Chi with weakness .
Training involves not meeting force with force, learning to use your opponent’s energy against them, training awareness to spot conflict and avoid it wherever and whenever possible. After all, if there’s no conflict, then no-one gets hurt. But if you have to defend yourself, Tai Chi teaches techniques that allow you to do so efficiently with focused effort, minimal harm to your opponent or yourself.
To those ends, training Yang Style Tai Chi in Jardine Shifu’s school is as much premised on the practical self-defence techniques and applications as on improving physical and mental health.
To summarise, the benefits of Tai Chi are:
- A form of training that cultivates mind and body
- Stress reduction
- Deep relaxation
- Improved body suppleness, strength and mind focus
- Improved blood circulation
- Improved mind and body balance
– Marika Sboros