Meet James Shaw
A New Kind of Riding Teacher
James Shaw is a new kind of riding teacher dedicated to helping people transform themselves and their riding by bringing forth a new paradigm in our physical connection to the horse which is a door way into complete connection, mind, body and spirit. This is a path to Mastery, the elusive harmonious, fluid connection we all dream of but for centuries has remained in the hands of a select few.
Removing the Mystery
James’ unique ‘Ride from Within’ system has been developed over 20 years of observing and teaching riders of all levels and disciplines. It has evolved into a complete body of work that helps the rider on every level; physical, emotional, mental and spiritual, stripping away the mystery of ancient and almost forgotten knowledge so that it can be learned and applied by everyone today.
This system is based on James' unique perspective of how the human body can best and most efficiently deal with the greater forces of nature and the horse physically, by using the body differently to how we have been taught and on all other levels, by developing internal awareness to develop ‘feel’ and sensitivity and the ability to be conscious in our riding. This powerful and transformative knowledge dissolves personal blocks to our Mastery of riding physically, mentally and emotionally.
How did James become a transformational and unique riding teacher?
An unlikely leading edge riding teacher, James Shaw started out life as a passionate surfer and martial arts student in Long Beach, California.
From 1983 he studied hard style Kung Fu, weapons forms and Tai Chi.
"You can be strong and in good shape but use your body out of balance and therefore outside the laws of nature," he explains.
"Almost all riders and many other professional athletes do this, too many of them come out of a career prematurely with painful chronic and disabling injuries as a result."
Three things shaped James’ experience that make him the incredibly gifted teacher he is today:
1. Chronic Injury
By the time he was aged just 30 James suffered from knee injuries and chronic lower back pain. Determined to avoid surgery James learned how to heal his body through the healing arts of Ba Gua, Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Laing Gong and how to prevent re-injury by using his body in a completely different way.
2. Bigger, faster, stronger can be beaten (by old ladies!)
In 1996 James met a teacher that would change his life forever. Wen Mei Yu, a 68 year old petite Chinese woman showed him that no matter how fit, strong and well trained he was, none of that mattered if the body was out of balance and the mind is run by the ego. At the peak of his physical fitness and training in Kung Fu, this small and apparently frail woman put him on the floor effortlessly.
James understands the same principles which allowed Wen Mei Yu to topple him effortlessly can be applied to horse and rider. Meaning, a horse will always be bigger, faster and stronger than the rider and using strength to ride is a losing battle which results in disharmony, lack of connection and in the long term, injury to both parties.
Using strength and leverage, no matter how refined or invisible to the eye, is the traditional and accepted way to ride in every discipline.
“this small and apparently frail woman put him on the floor effortlessly”
3. Gifted Perception
James always knew he was ‘different’ but did not have a label to describe his special gifts until relatively recently. Without an explanation for his profound gift, he did not speak about it publicly for many years. James has the unusual ability to ‘see’ from many angles simultaneously. He sees this in pictures, 30 - 36 per second which gives him an incredible ability to assess the horse and rider almost in slow motion. James is also highly physically empathic, which means he feels rider tension and blocks in his own body. This gives him accurate knowledge of what is going on for each individual rider in real time and the fixes they need to release the tension. This is James’ secret to what appears to be miraculous changes in horse and rider that previously were thought of as unfixable.
“James teaches a new and different way to use the human body that receives and re-directs the force of the horse.”
Coupled with his highly developed sense of ‘knowing’ imbalance and tension in movement through years of observing martial opponents, James’ unique perception means he has profoundly accurate inner and outer vision for detecting blocks in the rider that directly affect the fluid and balanced movement of the horse.
Discovering the riding community
It was James’ sister, an accomplished dressage rider and trainer that introduced James to the horse world. In 1996, James was asked to do a weekend workshop at his sister’s barn to apply the healing, breathing and balance training techniques of Tai Chi and Ba Gua to riders which was an immediate profound success and the rest as they say, is history. 20 years later, James is a full time world-wide clinician whose body of work has grown way beyond the basics of breathing and balance.
Progressive paradigm shifting discoveries
Little was James to know, the application of his knowledge to riding reaches far beyond his own wildest imagination. Far from just helpful for relaxation and improved balance, James has worked out the application of the principles that govern powerful, connected and fluid movement bringing a whole new paradigm to the riding world.
Almost all riding techniques and training systems are based on leverage, using the spine and sometimes the leg, as a lever. The pelvis becomes the fulcrum through which force is applied to the horse’s spine to engage the haunches. In the long term, this causes damage to the lumbar region of the spine of horse and rider.
James teaches a new and different way to use the human body that receives and re-directs the force of the horse. This way the horse can lift his spine and engage the haunches in a more natural, free and healthy manner, which in and of itself is groundbreaking. However James’ major breakthrough came in 2009 when he realised the 3rd dimension to the movement of the pelvis. When applied to riding it takes the rider’s experience of an independent seat, fluidity, connection and power into territory that was previously only in their wildest dreams.
Despite the incredible depth of his work so far, James still feels like he has only scratched the surface of the application of the principles of Ride From Within. It is his intention for the rest of his life to spread this work to as many people as possible in every equestrian discipline and to provide every training and riding method that relies on the use of force or yield to pressure with an alternative option, which is ultimately more powerful, healthy and harmonious for both horse and human.