T'ien Ti Tao was officially established in Norfolk in 1975. The name means "The Way (Tao) of Heaven & Earth" which implies it to be a school of Taoist Life Skills: Long Life Diet, exercise and self-defence, in brief.
Our Syllabus Includes:
- Traditional Taoist Ch'uan-shu (Kung-fu)
- Traditional T'ai Chi Ch'uan (Taijiquan)
- Taoist - K'ai Men - Yoga (Very rare!)
- Taoist Ch'i Kung (Qigong)
- Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
- Practical Taoism - Philosophy in actions.
Professor Symonds Shi-Jo (Grandmaster) has been teaching for over 45 years, to 2018.
Practiced an unknown style since early childhood and in every school confronted school bullies with success, the first time being at just 4 years of age! In teenage years began studying "life", then psychology, social behaviour, diet, herbs, Indian Yoga, various Eastern Philosophies or beliefs, meditation and such. Then also during the late 60’s to early 70's, studied "External Styles" of Martial Arts, their foundation and history. These were then analysed by stance, blocks and other techniques, "reverse-engineered" and then rebuilt to form basics.
In 1974 he was privileged to be invited to attend Prof. Chee Soo's Teacher Training' classes, although not a student of that school at the time. At this point the basic syllabus of T'ien Ti Tao was already being built, step-by-step, but Grandmaster Soo understood the "life path project" and encouraged the learning of all things Taoist. In 1978 a teacher's grade was awarded and a school opened in Gt. Yarmouth with blessings. In 1979 he had to cease going to the Teacher's Training due to the birth of his first child. However, emissaries were sent in 1980 to check-up on his progress with the Taoist Arts. All was well. Not long after that Prof. Soo died and his school was split into 3-4 main groups across UK. The overseas branches of the Li "Lee" Family Arts seem to have just faded away. Shih-Jo also studied Hsing-I Ch’uan and the Five Elements Forms during this period.
By 1985 a move to Norwich was completed and the school saw much success, with two main venues in Norwich, one in Gt Yarmouth, one in Lowestoft and one in Ipswich. Unfortunately Shi-fu had to close these down due to misbehaviour of two Instructors with female members of their groups. The Ipswich one died due to lack of rooms to hire and family problems with the instructor, sadly, as she was a very good student. One other student-teacher was going to start a club in Kent but suffered from a severe car crash. This left just the two clubs in Norwich which later had to shut down due to Council sell-offs of the venues!
During this period Shi-fu Symonds was made East Anglia Representative for Chinese Martial Arts with the A.M.A.A. (Amateur Martial Arts Association) by Tom Hibbert and his boss, which gave him the right to use AMAA after his name. Events were organised in the Eastern Region and he attended as an Official in other areas, such as London and Kent.
In 1985 full testing began under the auspices of Master Raymond Goh of BKPA - British Kuoshu Promotion Association, a sub-branch of the Chinese I.C.K.F. based in R.o. China. Shi-fu Symonds was then made East Anglian Ambassador for Kuoshu and attended joint BKPA and AMAA events as Master Goh's right-hand man.
1987 saw the acceptance of T'ien Ti Tao by the I.C.K.F. in R.o. China. One other applicant that year was rejected. He was Chinese and had trained with Ip Man! This event was described as "a huge honour but a big surprise too" as it was tough for a non-Chinese person to get recognised by the I.C.K.F. It was more surprising when one of the respected Old Masters of the I.C.K.F. Testing Committee remarked about our training syllabus and methods, "It's probably more traditional than most traditional styles!"
!990's saw the first book published, the syllabus carefully expanded, new areas discovered with Dr Paul Lam's "T'ai Chi for Health" courses in the UK, plus changes in venues due to closures.
Between 1980 and 2000 various articles were published in British Magazines and even one in the American Kung-Fu magazine. These attracted much attention and respect for T'ien Ti Tao Internationally.
Today in mainland China traditional skills are hard to find. Many were destroyed or died with their creators. Modern Chinese Kung-fu is riddled with modern "Wu Shu" (Post Communist name) and much has been diluted if not lost. In T'ien Ti Tao students are assured of overwhelming detail, traditional "tried and true" methods which have all been "tested" in the street, so to speak, by students. However, the main benefits of our training are better health, longer life, peace of mind, calmness and foresight: all well know marks of traditional Chinese Taoist Arts for health, fitness and longevity.
Students train without pain and learn self-control. Generally the techniques use sophisticated methods of subduing attackers by using their own strength, like in T'ai Chi Ch'uan - as they are closely related - and in not only protecting oneself from injury but generally using non-violent techniques against assailants: although obviously more force has to be applied if someone is trying to stab or seriously harm you, but then we teach the Taoist Art of "Detachment" and technique without hatred or deliberate violence in attitude. All classes are suitable for male and female adults who are serious about training and want to dedicate themselves to these highly accoladed Arts.