Lancaster School of Tai Chi Chuan

"I Thought it appropriate to mention and review Maya Flo and the club I have recently joined. I have trained and practised under, with and instructed many great, instructors, teachers, or whatever they wanted to be called under a lot of different disciplines, martial arts, self defence protection, and other for over 25 years. Including being a C&R & DTI instructor for over 24 years, teaching different sectors, from semi to FULL ON CONTACT, And as a teacher, coach, mentor Maya is excellent, very patient, none judgemental, able to focus on different students at once and still teach a course at different levels with excellent outcomes. Explains the reasons for the applications and why we they do them. If anyone wants to learn new life long skills, at any level, I can't recommend this club enough. The club was recommended to me by, two different martial arts experts in their fields who I respect and I am thankful for this, its opened up a new chapter in my life, thank you, Dave Pattinson Stacey Vivian Pattinson"

Dave Pattinson

"Hi, my name is Andy Steele, Chief Instructor of Lancaster Grapplers Academy (Total Combat Jui-Jitsu). I have practiced martial arts for 43 years and have lots of experience. I have trained with Paul on and off for about 15 years and I still visit his class taking with me all the new and up to date techniques from the MMA circuits for the ground fighting.

I find that Paul's passion for Tai Chi, Karate and all martial arts, makes him not just an instructor but a willing instructor. The difference between Paul and most other instructors is the word willing. He is willing to share, willing to listen, willing to take time when required to get across the instruction - a rare instructor.

I am involved with Lancaster and Morecambe MMA and a corner man for them, and this club is second to none in the cage fighting world. As I am proud to be associated with them and also with Paul, who's teaching, attitude and honesty to martial arts is the highest it could be and I am proud to write this."

Andy Steele

There is a saying in Tai Chi that 'one can spend a lot of time training and achieve little'. This was true for me before I discovered the Lancaster School of Tai Chi Chuan.

I have been training in Tai Chi on and off since the age of 16. As a young martial artist Tai Chi was secondary to my external martial arts training, mainly Taekwondo, which I practised for 18 years and taught for 10.

As I got older (I'm now 53), I became more interested in the internal martial arts and particularly Tai Chi, along with an associated interest in Qi Gong and meditation.

I used Tai Chi to rehab from a serious spinal injury that ended my Taekwondo career, and after ankle surgery following a bike accident. Over the years I've had several very good Tai Chi instructors who I have the utmost respect for.

Whilst these instructors were very good, their Tai Chi had limits. They taught Tai Chi as a health exercise, supplementary to other Kung Fu styles. These instructors all taught a form of Tai Chi described as Yang Style, and used the popular, modern 24-Step form as the basis for their systems. Whilst some teachers incorporated pushing hands, none taught Tai Chi as a true martial art.

Eventually, I reached a point where I felt I had learned all I could and it was time to move on. After a lot of searching I discovered the Lancaster School of Tai Chi Chuan. I now travel regularly from Blackburn to attend classes.

In my experience, two types of Tai Chi are taught in the UK today. There is health based Tai Chi, which is quite common, and then there is true martial Tai Chi Chuan, which is extremely rare.

In health based Tai Chi you'll mainly learn a short Tai Chi form alongside Qi Gong, and perhaps some pushing hands practice. This is suitable for people of all ages and isn't too physically demanding.

True martial Tai Chi, such as that taught at the Lancaster School, is different. Here the Tai Chi is taught as a martial art. The forms remain a central element of training but are the original Yang Cheng Fu and Yang Lu Chan long forms that take years to perfect. There is varied and regular pushing hands practice. Martial applications are developed with pad work, partner exercises, and sparring. At an advanced level there is weapons training with sabre and long sword. Alongside all of this, there is also Qi Gong. This is a complete classical system of Tai Chi Chuan. The training is physically and mentally challenging. The practice is rich and deep. There are no gradings, no uniforms, and no competitions. Just a lifetime of learning that cannot be exhausted.

The Tai Chi taught at the Lancaster school is first and foremost an internal martial art. It concentrates on developing the body's internal energy or Qi through proper body alignment, controlled breathing, correct mental intention, application of the principles of Yin and Yang, and development of the internal structure of the body. All of this leads to a soft but overwhelming power that is devastating when applied to to the body's vulnerable points.

Developing the body's Qi also provides a foundation for controlling and settling the emotions, which in turn calms the mind and opens up a path of spiritual development that students of the school are encouraged to follow.

I have been training with the Lancaster School for over 4 years, and my experience has been excellent.

The lead instructor, Paul Florkowski, is a fine teacher. He exemplifies what it is to fully commit to Tai Chi as a lifestyle and he inspires through example. As a teacher Paul is knowledgeable, supportive and patient. His style is to gradually expose students to deeper levels of the art as their skills develop and they become ready for the next step.

Students of the Lancaster schools of Tai Chi Chuan are very committed to the art, with most having many years of experience. Like me, it is common for students to have practised external martial arts to a high level, with Tai Chi providing a natural way to continue their martial arts careers. I would gauge most of the school's students to be at least comparable to black belts in other martial styles. Turnover is very low with few students leaving the school and a small intake of new students who are made welcome.

Given the school's high standards, I would thoroughly recommend it to sincere students interested in martial Tai Chi Chuan. I would particularly recommend the school to existing Tai Chi practitioners who wish to deepen their training and to experienced external martial artists who want to continue their martial arts practice for years to come.

John Livesey

"It was the purity of the teaching in the fighting skills that drew me into Paul's class. There is an insistence on accuracy and an uncanny understanding of how an inflection of the punch, a correct positioning of the foot, will optimise the strike.

Paul teaches with a precision and steers the student to the peak of his or her capabilities, constantly keeping us in tune with an authentic Tai Chi Chuan. And within this traditional style of teaching, Paul manages to maintain compassion towards the students limitations, be they physical or emotional, and is able to work with this while still pushing us just further than we thought capable.

I believe that the quality and understanding of Tai Chi as a martial art is what optimises the healing qualities of Tai Chi Chuan. Paul pushes the students to the absolute peak of our capabilities, maximising our potential for robust physical health and emotional well being. He works way beyond the call of duty, spending time visiting students who are low, providing a zen therapy for nothing but the well being of his student.

He is a rare teacher and if I didn't live in Lancaster I would move here just for this class."

Larry Jones

"I've been training with Paul Florkowski and the Lancaster School of Tai Chi Chuan for 3 and a half years, coming into the practice as a complete beginner to martial arts. When I first started, I worked closely with both Larry Jones and Steve Kidd in different classes, and began one on ones with Paul, before moving into Paul's classes to continue my training.

My journey has been exhilarating, challenging, and life-changing - both in my confidence with the martial arts and also my confidence as a mindful individual. The school is incredibly welcoming and caring; fellow students offer advice and guidance, whilst also challenging you to discover the art in your own way and on your own journey.

I originally came to Tai Chi because I was enamoured with the beauty of the long forms, but learned quickly that my interest grew both in martial application, pushing hands, and standing meditation, as well as the holistic and interconnected nature of the entire practice.

I'm still early in my journey, but I feel that I have developed considerably with the quality of teaching at the Lancaster School of Tai Chi Chuan. Not only has my physical fitness never been better, but my mind, mental health, and ability to calmly cope with the world around me has greatly improved.

I can see myself practicing Tai Chi for the rest of my life, and I am excited to continue that journey with Paul and all my peers at the school. It requires commitment and discipline, but the rewards are unfathomable for those that are willing."

Benni Hill

"Hello, my name is Dominick, and I would like to share my experience of my journey with Tai Chi at the Lancaster school of Tai Chi Chuan and express my gratitude to our teacher Paul who is a true friend and mentor to me.

I started Tai Chi with Paul when I was 30 years of age and have now been training for 6 years, I knew it would require commitment and that I had to be ready to commit myself fully to the school if I was truly wanting to learn. During the beginning stages of my training, I was going through challenging times my mother had passed from cancer and had break up in a relationship. I was really struggling with my mentality and emotions. Paul helped me through with one-to-one counselling conversations and gave me the tools I needed to centre my emotions and regain mental and physical balance for which I will always be grateful.

Paul teaches authentic tai chi, which is something very rare to find, during the beginning stages we develop the tai chi body through specific stretching and physical exercises that focus on stretching the facia of the body, it also includes qi gong exercises that encourages blood and energy flow giving you the feeling of fluidity and lightness. The classes are always challenging and Pauls high standard for everything to be correct pushes your body to its limits and beyond, he always wants you to be at your best correcting posture and foot placements.

We learn form sequences such as the cheng fu form and lu chan form that has an endless depth to understanding and is hard work on the legs but also can be done in a relaxing way that helps circulate the blood around your body and also encourages fluidity. I find these forms to not only be physically challenging but extremely rewarding as it brings you deeper into your own nature and being and can leave you feeling reenergised afterwards. The students in the class are some of the best people I've met in my life they are down to earth, friendly and feel like family to me.

Paul sometimes uses me to help demonstrate techniques and applications he is unlike anyone I have ever met in the sense he has effortless power beyond belief you feel powerless when on the receiving end of the applications. I think Paul is a very fair and understanding teacher he can be strict, but it's done in a calm way teaching greater values of love and respect for others and that's what he wants us all to take away into the world, which seems paradoxical learning to fight with a greater sense to not fight.

Learning Tai Chi for me is the best thing I've ever done its so rewarding working on yourself I've spent years working for all sorts of external reasons such as money, security and what I thought was happiness, I always worked really hard for these reasons and never seemed to be satisfied, just run down with no energy to enjoy life and fed up of chasing an impossible dream and expectation that I had of myself and others. Learning Tai Chi with Paul has helped me find myself and although I still consider myself to have a long way to go I'm continuously excited about the next steps of the journey of self-discovery, sometimes I feel like I'm getting nowhere but when I look back and see how far I've come it reminds me of the saying that this isn't a race but a marathon and I remind myself to keep enjoying what I'm doing and to stay present.

If anyone is thinking of doing Tai Chi I strongly recommend it to everyone and you wont get anything better than the Lancaster school of Tai Chi Chuan!"


"I have been a student of Paul's now for almost 2 years, and I intend on remaining so for many years to come.

Paul is an excellent teacher with a true passion for martial arts, Tai Chi Chuan in particular. He has an in-depth knowledge of Tai Chi and the martial principles and applications that go with it. Even when demonstrating a basic technique you can see Paul's skills as a martial artist shine through, along with the many hours of practice needed to attain that level of skill. The beauty of training with Paul is that he truly cares about his students and their progress as martial artists and also in their personal and spiritual development.

Paul is warm and approachable yet still embodies the discipline and high standards he expects from his students. He has frequently lent me books and DVDs on Tai Chi to further my understanding and development. He is always willing to talk and help or advise you with any questions or problems both in and out of class. I have found Paul to be a true teacher and trusted friend.

Through Paul's classes I have not only learned to fight, punch and kick, I have overcome a chronic illness which I had suffered for 5 years previously. I have become stronger both physically and mentally. I have grown spiritually. I have become much more confident in my own abilities yet humble at the same time. I have found Tai Chi to be a whole new way of life. I am content and happy. No longer restlessly looking for something else to do. I have found myself, or as my wife so truly said "When I see an old photo of you I just see half of you. Now you are the full you." For this I cannot thank Paul enough.

I would fully recommend Paul's Tai Chi classes to anybody with a desire to learn this beautiful art as it was meant to be taught."

Steven Kidd

"I have trained in Tai Chi with Paul Florkowski for the past three years having attended his Martial Arts: Principles and Applications class over the last twelve years.

I feel very committed to Paul as a teacher as he absolutely embodies what he teaches. He is a highly disciplined and focussed person. As a teacher he demands high standards in terms of commitment and practice. In return he is 100% there for his students, supportive and encouraging, fully knowing the benefits that this practice brings.

Paul has a deep understanding of Tai Chi as a martial art. The movements of the form are learnt and understood as forms of attack and defence. The essence of Paul's teaching however is to come to know the power that resides in softness, presence, focus and inner stillness. Watching Paul's mastery of the Tai Chi form is to witness this power in action.

Paul's classes are not for the faint hearted - they can be physically demanding and may involve a certain amount of pain! But to anyone committed to a path of self development and healing I would whole heartedly recommend them."

Helen Fry

"I took up martial arts in my early 50's, my main aims being to improve my fitness, flexibility and balance. In time I was awarded a black belt in kung fu and a brown belt in jujitsu although I haven't chosen to grade for several years. Now in my 60's, I still train regularly with Garstang Martial Arts but I wondered whether tai chi would allow me to continue to train into my 70's and beyond. I joined Lancaster School of Tai Chi Chuan in about October 2016 to find out more.

Mention tai chi and most people will have a mental image of large groups of elderly Asian people in a park carrying out slow exercises. If nothing else this implies that there are no age barriers to tai chi and the practitioners must believe it is doing them some good. Like most exercise, however, the benefits are not immediate and it can be hard to persist with apparently random movements of the arms, legs and body. Tai chi is a martial art too and when these movements are performed quickly but accurately, it can be seen as the potent self-defence system it really is. It is this combination of practising slow and fast techniques plus the undoubted mental benefits that I find so engaging.

In my professional life I was a doctor having retired earlier this year. I was a specialist in anaesthetics and pain management and frequently encountered patients with spinal pain especially low back pain. Physical deconditioning and psychological distress are major factors in persistent LBP and I believe the martial arts have much to offer in managing these problems. Physical exercise can also aid the control of high blood pressure and diabetes, other common medical problems, as well as delay the onset of dementia. There is increasing recognition that the practice of mindfulness meditation can help not only mental well-being but, also, our physical state. My experiences both as a doctor and as a student of the martial arts convince me that they offer significant health benefits.

Lancaster School of Tai Chi Chuan is run by Paul Florkowski who has been practising and teaching tai chi since 1995. Paul's attention to detail can be unsettling and even intimidating at first. There is no hiding from his gaze as he points out errors and issues corrections from across the room. He knows, however, that it is easier to get things right from the outset rather than trying to rectify bad habits later on. He exemplifies his own teachings; his sub-70kg frame is like a rock when he's rooted himself in a stance, for instance, but he also exhibits the fluidity and softness in movement that typifies tai chi. It is very clear that Paul seeks to help all his students achieve their best.

Students range from 16 to their 60s, come from widely differing backgrounds and have varying fitness levels. Some have a background in other martial arts whereas others are complete beginners. All seek to improve themselves and to help the other students to do likewise. Classes combine a warm-up and stretching, pushing hands, application of techniques, chi gung exercises and form practice so there is plenty of variety and the 2-hour session seems to fly by.

Is Lancaster Tai Chi for you? Well, if you want to grade every 3 months and be awarded a black belt after 2½ years, then no; go elsewhere but consider returning if you realise that it's the journey and not the destination that is important. If you want to get the best out of yourself, both physically and mentally, then give it a try but be prepared to work hard and to stick with it. It's well worth it."

Andrew Vickers

"I have trained at Paul's Martial Arts - Principles & Applications class for 8 years. I can honestly say that it has been an influential and life changing experience. I had previously had some experience in Shukokai Karate and I joined Paul's group in order to understand more about how to apply the techniques that I had learnt, to become more confident and to improve my level of fitness. After 8 years of training with Paul I have gained everything that I set out to achieve and more!

I now feel so much more confident in myself, both physically and mentally. I am far more grounded, calm, believing in my own abilities. I have realised that size isn't everything, being a petite female; I had previously felt weak and incapable of defending myself. Now I realise that being small can have its advantages and that you should never underestimate anyone's abilities regardless of their sex, size and stature.

My physical fitness has improved greatly. At first I struggled to do one regular press up. After years of doing them as part of the warm up I can do many of them, on my fingers, knuckles, with claps in the middle! I never would have expected that I would have been capable! I am so much more flexible, I feel fitter in every way.

Paul's classes have become a part of me. I am sometimes surprised at how naturally I can perform techniques and movements as if they were a reflex action. They have been built into me and I hope that will be the case for many more years to come.

Most of all, I have made a really good friend in Paul. He is open and giving. Willing to help you whatever the situation, not just as an instructor but as a loyal friend. Paul has high expectations of his students but in return you get so much back.

I will look back on my time training with Paul with fondness and nostalgia; it has been a huge part of my life and a massive influence in making me the person I am. Thank you Paul!"

Carrie Vale

"I have been practicing Tai Chi for about fifteen years. The first form that I learned was the Yang Cheng-fu long form which kept me poised on a tight rope somewhere between elation and frustration during my steep 'learning curve'. I am still learning!

Since the early days I have added the Chen Man Ching form and am currently teaching the short 24 step Yang Style from to an enthusiastic group at my local over 55s club in my home town of Morecambe. About two years ago I felt I wanted to refresh my knowledge of the long form and joined Paul as the Lancaster School of Tai Chi Chuan at that time. I was a little apprehensive at first, being a pensioner amongst a group of younger and fitter class members. However, I was made to feel very welcome and Paul reassured me that I could progress at my own pace.

As I teach and practice Tai Chi principally for the health benefits I don't possess an extensive knowledge of pushing hands and the martial application. It was a bit daunting at first but everyone was very encouraging and supportive. There was plenty of one-to-one coaching and Paul was always approachable, patiently reinforcing and explaining the various elements.

I feel that I gained a greater understanding of the importance of 'intent' during the practice. The opportunities for partner work enhanced my 'listening skills', reinforcing anticipation and appropriate response. Form practice produced new challenges as Paul introduced subtle nuances and corrections and certainly helped me to achieve an enhanced level of focus and concentration.

From beginner to advanced practitioner, whether your interest is in the internal or external form of martial arts you will find an appropriate standard of teaching to match your requirements in a safe and friendly environment. I thoroughly recommend it for improved balance, greater flexibility and stress reduction.

Gill Steven

"My name is Tim Swarbrick and i've been at the Lancaster School of Tai Chi Chuan for about a year and a half now. My background is in Black Tiger Claw Kung Fu and Jiu Jitsu in which I still train.

A friend had recommended Paul's club to me as a good place to train in Lancaster and on meeting Paul by chance, I decided to go down and give it a go although i'd no knowledge of Tai Chi.

I realise looking back that for some time due to some changes in my martial arts system, i'd been looking for something else to add to my general training, something deeper. A lot of the way i'd been used to training relied on me going all out. It wasn't necessarily how i'd been trained, my teachers previously had been highly regarded, skilled instructors in their systems, it's just that "crash, bang, wallop" had worked for me and I still think sometimes there's a place for that.

On starting the first class at Paul's I found it was just what i'd been looking for: great warm up, then on to applications of techniques and forms with lots of emphasis on correct balance, footwork, body mechanics and above all, basics. Doing slow, deliberate practice showed up faults i'd probably had for years and helped to address them. I found from week to week something more to work on, particularly in the bouncy, elastic energy Paul referred to as "peng".

It's hard to describe but during martial arts practice, or real life come to that, there's a way of doing a block or strike just right while staying relaxed with no brute strength involved. Suddenly your training partner goes spinning off or crashes to the mat and you seem to have done next to nothing! That's the use of "peng". This is central to the training in Tai Chi at Paul's club.

We all have days when no matter how we try a particular technique it doesn't go right. The harder you try the worse it gets. Then on another lesson you almost seem to disengage your brain, relax and... "pow" it works! "Peng" again.

Training at Paul's isn't easy but it's very rewarding. Practicing Tai Chi forms without training in the full on application would be hollow practice. You get the full deal at this club. The attention to detail he shows his students is second to none. As a result your improved balance and well rooted stances help you achieve, or get closer to, the correct use of peng energy. This i'm sure is a lifetime journey and you find the practice at Tai Chi seeps into your everyday life.

Finally I would recommend anyone from any school of martial arts to train with Paul. I'm sure you would find it improves the practice of your own style and your quality of life."

Tim Swarbrick

"I enjoyed training with Paul from 2003 to 2008 several times each week, both privately and in classes, before relocating elsewhere in the UK. When I started, I already had some experience in a variety of martial art styles and other body-mind disciplines, but have always been impressed by the generous and precise instruction I received from Paul.

At the heart of his teaching approach are a careful attention to detail and a concern with every student's personal progress
, whether or not they are interested in taichichuan for relaxation, health & fitness, martial and/or other reasons. The mixture of qigong, form training and partner work during classes works well and I particularly enjoyed the push-hands drills and martial applications. These feed back increasingly new perspectives into one's form practice, and the gradual realisation of how important - and enjoyable - a relaxed mental, physical and emotional awareness is, both during class and in other areas of one's life.

I also had the opportunity to train with Spencer on numerous occasions, testing and refining our skills in push-hand drills and principle-based application work, from which I always gained some refreshing insights. So if you are interested in tachichuan and want to find out more, or merely want to deepen your other health & martial practices, then this is definitely a great place to help you on your way!"

Ron Peek

"As I had no prior martial art experience when I started my Tai Chi study three years ago, I had no particular expectation. I envisaged a little exercise and stress reduction, only to find that and so much more - a total voyage of discovery.

I have learned so much about myself, faced personal challenges and have certainly grown as a person. My Tai Chi practice has become central to my life and I thoroughly enjoy the the class training environment.
I find the teaching style has integrity, quality and depth, providing the student with a detailed knowledge of the forms, martial applications and the history of the art.

I cannot recommend it highly enough - try it out for yourself and see where your Tai Chi takes you!"

Carol Henery

"For the past twelve months I have had the privilege of training under the tutelage of Paul Florkowski. During this time Paul has demonstrated himself to be an adept martial artist and a talented teacher/coach.

He is highly skilled in the hard external art of Shotokan Karate as well as the softer internal arts of Chi-Kung and Tai Chi. I have come to know Paul as a friendly and responsible person with a very approachable teaching style and a professional attitude. I wish him every success in future prospects."

Gavin Holden, 3rd Dan W.T.F Taekwondo

"Tai Chi is a living art of the mind and body. It is remarkable for its health benefits but also as a means of self protection. That is not to say it's a tool that is used but rather it is an all-encompassing way of thinking, moving and doing.

I came to Tai Chi already with a martial background and am constantly impressed with how effective, practical, powerful, efficient and logical it is. I discovered that previous experience of any other style is not required as it is unique and - although certainly potentially devastating - it emphasises calm, clarity and a gentleness designed to maintain focus and wellbeing.

This is not an "angry" offensive style nor is it a fanciful one of flying leaps and jumping spinning roundhouse kicks etc. It teaches you to breathe properly, to walk correctly, to listen attentively, to expand awareness, to be calm and to be kind to those you encounter.

It aids with co-ordination and confidence, perspective and posture, stress and stamina and is an intrinsic reward which is difficult to express unless experienced. It can be viewed simply as a form of exercise or as a means of meditation or as a style of self-defence but it is so much more and I found it to be all and more than I was expecting.

I've been privileged to train with a myriad of highly competent martial artists through the years and count myself very lucky to be in Paul's class under his tutelage and proud to call him an exceptional teacher and friend.

There is no generic syllabus or colourful grading system and each class is tailored differently. Paul recognises the potential in all of his students and commits a huge amount of himself and time to bring out the best in all those willing to practice and learn. This is not a disposable skill, it is a way of thinking, doing and being (I find the breathing especially useful when stuck in traffic, for example!)

Paul has a deep knowledge and understanding of the history and philosophy of that which he perpetually practices and a true respect of the tradition and benefits of the art. He has an approachable manner and not only can he demonstrate what should be done but can articulate the "how" and "why" in a clear and concise fashion.

I fully recommend his classes no matter what size, shape, age you may be as you'll always come away having improved a little."

Andy Lewis

"I attend Paul's Karate classes and during the time I have been training with him I have found him to be a knowledgeable and dedicated practitioner of the martial arts who directs his students with a combination of disciplined training, patient and instructive attention to detail, maintaining the traditional essence and spirit of the arts in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. He conveys his message with clear and precise instruction well explained and demonstrated, guiding the class as a whole whilst addressing each individuals level of competence.

Paul is an articulate and communicative instructor whose enthusiasm, encouragement and support for his students is in evidence both inside and outside the class in equal measure, readily available at any time to offer assistance with ones training development, or just a simple chat, making the experience of knowing and training with Paul a most enjoyable one. I cannot commend him highly enough and count myself fortunate to be able to attend his classes.

Andy Culkin

"I have been training with Paul for nearly ten years now, both in his Martial Arts: Principles and Applications classes and in his Tai Chi classes. I recognised immediately that Paul's practical martial skills were of a very high quality. He has a great grasp of form and body mechanics but also practical first hand experience of real life combat. I was also impressed by his dedication. He trains hard every day and is always reading, researching and learning more and more when at home. In addition to his own training he teaches five classes a week and various private one-to-ones. I have never known one cancelled in 10 years due to any fault of Paul.

For a student however, the best thing is his approachability and his willingness to give. Many times after training we will sit and talk about techniques or principles. He has loaned me untold books and dvds and training equipment over the years and many times has rung me out of the blue when a thought occured to him that might help me grasp a concept we have been working on in class.

Despite Paul's many caring, giving qualities, do not mistake that for a laissez faire or overly soft attitude. Classes are highly disciplined and strict. Paul demands very regular attendance, effort and dedication. I have known him ask several people to leave over the years for either poor attendance and poor conduct. Paul is committed to keeping the integrity of his classes second to none.

I would highly recommend these classes to anyone who wants to train traditional martial arts as they have really helped improve my understanding. These classes have been of the highest importance in my development over the last decade and I continue to train with Paul five times a week."

Spencer Garry

"Anyone who has trained in karate may recognise this scenario - a syllabus comprising basic techniques, formalised 2 person drills, kata and sparring. This is basically the route I followed through 2 different karate styles before I became disillusioned and gave it up. Why? Well mainly because I came to question my ability to actually defend myself in a situation outside of a karate dojo. Undoubtedly karate brings great benefits in terms of fast and powerful techniques, fitness and reaction etc, however the basic techniques as they were trained and the pre-arranged attack and defence drills were mostly over formalised and did not reflect the reality of an actual fight often leaving the karateka 'stuck' in a stance after using a punch or using a 'block' that would be too slow to use anywhere outside of a dojo. At the other extreme, the sparring taught was quick and mobile, but was geared towards scoring points rather than finishing a fight and of course there was always a referee to step in and stop the fight after every point scored. Kata was learnt mainly for passing gradings and for competitions and so looked good but the techniques they were supposed to encompass were rarely taught and even when they were, some of the explanations seemed less than convincing. In effect, though I thoroughly enjoyed it, as I progressed through the system I began to feel that I had something that looked and felt good but which was somehow lacking in depth and substance.

That is where Paul's class Martial Arts - Principles and Applications comes in. Having initially looked at the website, I did wonder if it was a bit 'hardcore' and whether i would want to commit to such a class. Yes it can be physically challenging, both in terms of stamina and because we are, after all, learning to fight. from which may come some accidental knocks and bruises. However, I have found the class to be disciplined and supportive rather than competitive, and inclusive rather than elitist, with students of both sexes and a variety of sizes, levels of skill and previous experience. This is to Paul's credit.

Perhaps the most important point to make is that Paul has that naturalised ability and confidence in demonstrating techniques that gives you the confidence that the man knows what he is doing, not because he has read a book about it (although by all accounts he probably has) but because he's put the time in and has the practical experience to know what works and what doesn't in 'real' situations as well as the how and the why. The sessions are always well planned to train both technical ability (e.g. body movement to improve speed and power) as well as the more practical self defence applications. The techniques he teaches relate to a variety of situations and what is taught one week will reappear maybe the next week or a couple of weeks later ad then again a little later on, so that a repertoire of techniques can be gradually built up by the student and applied with increasing confidence and ability.

Paul as a teacher has a mix of easy going humour matched with a more formal 'dojo' discipline. His wide knowledge of the subject as a whole is obvious and he is more than willing and able to impart that knowledge.
All that Paul requires is the commitment to turn up regularly and to put the effort in when you are there, which after all benefits the student much more than it does Paul.

Anyway to get back to the main point, what does this class give me that I wasn't getting before? Well basically it is filling in the gaps, giving the depth and substance that was lacking. Techniques such as low kicks which were rarely touched upon previously, moves that would be against the rules in competition so were never practiced, various locks and escapes that are supposedly 'hidden' in the katas but which were never taught, fighting on and from the ground, again never covered in any karate class I attended. Although I have been attending only 4/5 months and am far from having mastered the elements that are taught, am I learning and improving? Yes. Am I feeling more confident in my ability to defend myself? Yes. Is it hard work? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes."

Mike Sanders

"I've been training under the tutelage of Paul Florkowski for approaching a year now; he is the first teacher of martial art who has been able to inspire my faith and trust as a student. I come from a sporting background of amateur boxing as a teen and later, a full time racing cyclist until stopping due to injury.

After being recommended Paul by a friend I initially began Tai Chi hoping it may aid my rehabilitation. Immediately I realised that this class was different and certainly not what one would expect considering Tai Chi's image in the general public. Paul's teachings emphasise fluidity and are all very intuitive, the type of things our bodies naturally would do if only we were to let them. As a result there is no forcing the body, no holding of tension and an absence of the rigidity that is all too present in some other Martial Arts.

What I find particularly refreshing about Paul is the lack of arrogance frequently associated with Martial Arts instructors instead he encourages questions and welcomes suggestions, accepting that there may be more effective alternatives. Paul's Tai Chi has not let go of the fact that ultimately it is a Martial Art and the application of learned techniques is critical to the understanding of the forms.
For me Tai Chi has gone from a tool to reach an objective to an important part of my life in its own right and I wholeheartedly recommend it and particularly Paul."

Kieren Banlin

"Paul offers something that I have found to be rare, a Tai Chi class that manages to be both grounded and practical. I have been training with Paul for almost three years, and have found his class to be an enormous support in my life during this time. Paul and his class, which includes the fabulous group of people who attend it, have helped me to become more grounded in my life, improved my health and helped me to gain greater confidence to deal with life's challenges. I feel that the style in which Paul teaches Tai Chi enables his students to develop practical and effective self defence skills in a timely manner, which is something I have found less prevailing in the other Tai Chi classes I have attended.

His class incorporates meditative elements, including practice of breathing and Qi Gong, but delivers it in a grounded and non airy fairy manner. Paul also teaches an applications class for those who wish to train at a higher intensity, which includes practice of both hard (Karate style) and soft (Tai Chi) applications.

People that have a genuine interest in the study of martial arts will be hard pressed not to benefit from time spent training with Paul; his deep commitment to his martial practice and to his students learning makes him a rare treasure to those seeking tuition in Tai Chi.

Since moving away from Lancaster, I continue to travel to his class due to the value I feel it contributes to my life. I have witnessed a wide range of personality types, including people new to learning martial arts to those that have committed many years of their life to its study benefit from attending Paul's class and am grateful for the rich culture this brings to the class. I am also appreciative of the benefits I have reaped from having Paul as a teacher and the continued opportunities this offers me in my life."

Peter Ball

• Established in 2002 by •
Paul Florkowski
☎ 07708 896334