Vanessa Costigan & Gerrie Sporken
This year’s winter training in Amsterdam brought 37 tai chi apprentices together to both teach and learn from each other.
The 8th level apprentices gathered a day or so earlier practicing tai chi, push hands, and especially taking time to talk and process together.
As the evenings drew dark quite early, we engaged in three evening sessions starting around 6 PM. The early evening timing was welcomed in the depths of winter as the temperature took a dive into minus numbers.
As all the apprentices arrived from many different countries, the energy rose. Training was ready to go as the teaching teams introduced the apprenticeship they would teach to the whole group and shared a little snippet of what was to come.
The new B1 apprentices, Doris Haderer, Ken Hobson, Sas Vassie, and Gerard Kotte, received a big welcome cheer.
Five other apprenticeships took place — B3, Fundamentals, PH1, IF, and IFC.
In addition to this, we also had the opportunity to have Kids’ Tai Chi Games as an experienceship. We attracted a large group of 23 participants. Therefore, we are hoping for another opportunity to deepen our awareness and further engage with children.
We had the big hall for four days where sword form and fencing was well received, and apprentices reported many new insights.
All classes included the following focuses:
- Dantian awareness
- Connect between heaven and earth
- Connect with a partner for mutual support
- Push hands for all levels, including PH4A seminar and class, as well as PH5A, PH6, and PH7.
Lastly, a group of 10 apprentices participated in Winter Form Work (WFW).
As is evident, the training offered a full and varied experience. We closed the training with those who took apprenticeships presenting what they learnt to the group.
Some fun activities included pizza night, which was, of course, yummy!
At the pizza party, all the apprentices gathered for our annual Winter Training Report from each location. The group represented our apprentices who teach online and in-person from their varied locations. Where are they from? Netherlands, United Kingdom, Ireland, Portugal, Switzerland, France, Austria. From the United States, we welcomed apprentices and senior teachers from Chicago and New York. Thank you all for making this journey!
During our party night, we enjoyed delicious catered Indonesian food. Peter Kennedy guided the night’s festivities with well-timed jokes and haikus. Our theatre entertainment included poetry by Hal Caswell and Patrick Wooldridge. The B1 theatre was super fun, including the creation of noodle soup!
Unlike in years gone by, we didn’t party until the early hours. Yet we all left feeling quietly joyful and content. Many of us felt sad to have the training end, yet we left feeling well-supported by the group on our continued journey with tai chi.
In 2025, the Winter Training will be in a new location, Götzens, Austria. The dates are set for the 17th to 25th of January 2025, with many more details to follow from Maria Gandler and team. How exciting it will be to experience the fresh, clear air of the Austrian snow-covered Alps!
The Winter Training was organized by Stichting, the School of T’ai Chi Chuan Amsterdam (STTC). Koen Krikhaar took care of the coordination and client contact. Johanna Koelman managed the website, uploaded the schedule, and ordered all the food. Shao Lin guided the volunteers with their jobs in exchange for part of the tuition.
Thank you to everyone else we did not name but who were part of making the eight days a deeply meaningful gathering for us all. Finally thank you to our families and friends who remained at home and encouraged our attendance.
With love from Vanessa and Gerrie.
Click here for a slide show of the training by Patrice Wooldridge:
The Tai Chi Foundation (TCF) provides many ways to study tai chi including live online courses, which allow you to participate in guided sessions from the comfort of your home. These virtual classes offer the unique opportunity to connect with experienced instructors, ensuring that you receive personalized guidance and feedback. Additionally, TCF offers Teachable on-demand classes, providing a flexible and accessible way to learn at your own pace.
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Featured photo by Patrice Wooldridge.