"Hi”, said Alan, "Good to meet you".
It was the autumn of 1988 and I had arrived the previous week, seconded to Bristol for a month to work with Colleagues in order to bid to access funding for a 5 year research programme.
My reason for spending a month in Bristol was not entirely work motivated however. I had by then studied T'ai Chi for two years with John Kells at the British T'ai Chi Chuan association in Upper Wimpole street London and with another one of his students Keith Graham for some years before that. It was during my time with John in London that I heard several people talk about Alan Peck, a gifted senior student and teacher who had move to Bristol to start a school some years before.
I was curious, and I started trying to make contact with Alan shortly after I arrived in Bristol. It wasn't easy however. I didn't have contact details (there were no Internet in them days) and Alan didn't seem to be advertising widely! However, I remember walking down a dark street one damp evening in late autumn, glancing in shop windows for any of Alan's adverts (it had become my habit by now) and suddenly there it was, a small flyer for The "Natural Way School of T'ai Chi". I jotted down the telephone number, rang him and arranged to attend the next available class in Redland.
Looking back on my T'ai Chi notes from that time, I remember thinking that I had learned more about the internal aspects of T'ai Chi in that one month than I had in my previous six years of study.
Meanwhile at work the bid was successful, and the opportunity of an interesting Job arose in Bristol. It was a natural decision for me to move to Bristol, and so began my full time study with Alan the following year at the Lam Rim Centre in Bedminster. The first years were very intense, being personally free then to study with him on almost every possible opportunity.
I remember one early event particularly clearly; it was very much one of those "pivotal points" in my life and it occurred the first time I was invited to push hands with Alan. There he was, directly in front of me, quite a substantial fellow with an affable smile and I was invited to push towards his chest. What happened after that was quite, quite extraordinary. I simply felt absolutely nothing.
My eyes told me there was someone very substantial to push directly in front of me, but however I tried to push, fast, slow, strongly, weakly, directly, or with sneaky curves, I simply felt nothing.
I couldn’t understand why I felt nothing. If there was no resistance and no running away, why couldn’t I feel anything? Why couldn’t I understand what was happening? It was an intense emotional experience; as if a ghost was in front of me. Imagine, someone just inches in front of you who you could not feel, could not reach out and touch!
It was only over the following years of practice that I began to learn a little about the listening, joining, sticking, neutralising, turning, leading and following energies in which Alan was so deeply interested, and which he had developed to such an accomplished level.