Sport | An ancient physical practice finds its way from China to Leeds Uni

Have you ever thought about doing Lishi Tai-Chi? Here is a little bit about the history and more information about the traditional Chinese art.

Wei Hai is a small, Chinese city lying at the coastal tip of Shandong Province. Nestled under mountains and lapping up the waves, this beautiful place enjoys the most exquisite ‘feng shui’ and a perfectly temperate climate. Between 1898 and 1930, the seaport was a British colony and garrison town. The old people of Wai Hai can still greet us in English as we pass by their cute English-style houses that somehow blend in with the curved eaves of the surrounding Chinese temples and homes.

In the 1930s the last remaining Li family member to practice an ancient system of physical arts known in the West as Lishi, settled in London. This was how Chan Kam Li, who was an international jewel merchant, became one of the first people ever to teach a family system of Chinese physical arts outside China.

A Chinese man would have been quite a novelty, let alone one teaching ‘physical exercises and movements, that we know today as ‘Tai Ji’, ‘Qigong’ and ‘Gongfu’ (Kung fu) But it must have been fate indeed that a little Chinese boy in Hyde Park mis-kicked his football so that it landed on the head of Chan Li, the revered Chinese master! But this is exactly how the journey that brought Lishi to Leeds Uni began! The boy was Chee Soo and he devoted his life to making these esoteric arts accessible to Westerners, vastly improving the energy levels, reducing stress, and opening up latent talents in thousands of people.

Since then, Lishi has spread internationally, and nowadays the world centre of Lishi is right here in Leeds. In 1990 the first Lishi class opened at Leeds Uni. A small claim to fame within uni club circles must be that the club has continued, year in and year out since then, bringing Lishi to hundreds of students, many of whom have gone on to become teachers of Lishi, settled far and wide and continue to promote this ancient and wonderful practice right across the globe.

Here is a press release sharing some more information on Lishi:

Leeds College of Chinese Physical Culture  participated in the EU Lifelong Learning project funded by Grundtvig over the last two years; a project partnership between France, the Netherlands and Germany to deliver and promote good practice of the traditional Chinese art of Lishi; a form of Tai Chi, Chi Gong and Taoist Yoga.  Lishi practitioners took part in intensive teacher training courses across the participating countries enhancing the quality of teacher training and stimulating the teachers to further the outreach of their classes and encourage more people to experience the benefits of the traditional Chinese art.

The partners all use the practice of traditional Chinese performing arts to help adults acquire knowledge and skills which help them take responsibility for their own lives: a healthier lifestyle, a healthy and supple body, self-confidence, social skills and practical skills such as managing teams and resolving conflicts. The joint project had three main objectives: the exchange of training methods, to further enhance the quality of the teachers and to increase the number of adults who practice traditional Chinese performing arts.

Lishi Tai-Chi meet several times in the week during University times:

·         Monday – 19.00 – Wrangthorn Church Hall, Hyde Park Terrace

·         Tuesday – 19.30 – Riley Smith Hall or Meeting Room 2 in LUU

·         Friday – 14.30 – Meeting Room 6 in LUU

See the Lishi website for more information:

Wai-Yii Rogers


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