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James Shaw's
Tai Chi For The Equestrian

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About James:

James Shaw has been a student of the Martial Arts for over twenty years.  Combining the structural balance of Tai Chi, the energy work of Chi Gong, and the healing aspects of Laing Gong, James has created his unique "Tai Chi for the Equestrian".  James first works with the rider on the ground to discover and change imbalances in the rider's body.  Then, through mounted work, the rider is able to take this new understanding into the saddle and see dramatic changes in their connection with their horse.  James' technique works for all types of riders.  He has worked with professional and Olympic riders.  He has presented successful clinics throughout the United States and in the United Kingdom. His first book is scheduled for release in the Spring of 2005.

See details of James's UK Tour 2004

Some testimonials for James Shaw and his Tai Chi for the Equestrian:

  • "The Wisdom and dedication that is demonstrated by James Shaw will help one's awareness of the body, in whatever task you choose to get accomplished.  Thank you.  You have helped me and in doing so my patients as well."

Dr Paul Carlson, Chiropractor
Long Beach, CA

  • "As a trainer and coach I find riders are constantly in search of ways to be at the top of the equestrian sport. James, a dedicated Tai Chi Instructor, offers these athletes, valuable training techniques, of body control and focus.  I have found James' instruction clear and inspiring.  I highly recommend getting in touch with your Chi!"

Betsy Steiner, Competitive Rider, Trainer,Coach 1990 U.S. Team Member World Equestrian Games, Stockholm, Sweden; riding "Unanimous". Coach of medal-winning Young Riders and Olympians.

  • "I have been taking classes with James Shaw for almost three years.  In that time my entire concept of the art of riding has totally changed.  Through the practice of Tai Chi and Qi Gong, James gifts his students with his teachings of inner balance, he teaches us how to use energy and the economy of motion of martial art, in relation to the horse. James' work is amazing and his dedication to, and love for, what he brings becomes a joyful series of "enlightenment's" for his students."

Dian Dunsay, Rider and Student
Los Angeles, CA

  • "Thank you so much for the "Tai Chi for the Equestrian Clinic in Marin.  I did have dramatic results that same day. I've noticed a continued relaxed and calm oneness with my horse since the clinic. My jumping instructors noticed that I was riding much better (better grounded).  I went to my first Hunter Show this last week and have never been so calm and relaxed to really enjoy the show.

Karen Buke, Rider and clinic participant
Davis, CA

And Now for Something Completely Different:

Tai Chi Presents a Paradigm Shift for the Dressage Rider
Laura Shunk

I can't tell you how cool it was!  I had an epiphany.  My body fell into place just as James Shaw, the T'ai Chi instructor told me it would, and I was riding an awesome canter half-pass. Even better, as my body assimilated the information, I found that I had a plan for the next three months as to how to provide groundwork for this supple and willing little horse and his very talented rider.

I have had the honor and pleasure of riding in front of many wonderful and insightful riding instructors, both local and from the greater area.  Consequently, I never expected that my next enlightenment would happen under the tutelage of a martial artist on a borrowed horse.  However, I found that Jamie Shaw had plenty of brand new material to teach the group of nearly twenty of us that assembled for the NODA sponsored weekend seminar at the Andrews School.  We started with ground exercises and explanation of theory with respect to Tai Chi.  This is a soft style of Chinese martial art that focuses on slow and controlled movement using the internal muscles.  Further, the art incorporates breath control and proper skeletal alignment to allow a minimum amount of effort to achieve the movement.  The art avoids unnecessary tension in the external muscles, which can act to inhibit movement.  The student works to develop harmony between mind, body and spirit to keep focus and energy flowing.

Shaw has studied and trained in the martial arts for over twenty years, the last ten of which have been focused on the internal arts.  He uses these concepts and his ability to see balance and tension that he has so developed to help horseback riders improve their art.  He has worked with numerous riders in the Southern California area, including Betsy Steiner.  He also has established national clients in this area. While he begins his exercises on the ground, he is also adroit at teaching in the arena.  He integrates the body mechanics that he initiates off horse to give the rider a unique vision of their riding.  He is able to express the images in a way that are accessible to the rider and call forth the muscle memory that he has established on the ground. However, his lessons are fresh and thought provoking. He remarked to us "You are going to have a difficult time improving counterproductive riding habits by simply riding more.  These habits are more easily changed by properly cross-training."

Beyond the benefits to our riding, which were evident for each of the students who was able to ride for him, he also addressed the long-term health benefits of eliminating energy blockages, of stretching, and of proper alignment.  James has even developed a set of exercises to help alleviate carpal tunnel syndrome. He has clearly developed his message as it applies to the riding community, through his own riding (although he freely admits that this is not his area of mastery), through years of teaching, and through the development of a video and a book.

James was comfortable giving instruction to the broad variety of levels of riding that we presented to him.  I heartily recommend his seminar to any rider as a supplement to their regular instructor and clinician.