20 June 2018

Sabre workshop Sunday 24th June

2-5pm near Hampton Court at the usual riverside place. Might be hot so bring a hat and perhaps long sleeved light clothes, as we won't have our usual shady tree area.

17 June 2018

Monday Class

Next class is Tuesday 16th July at the studio, 7-9pm. Short Form study. All welcome.

T'ai Chi at the V&A with Caro this Saturday

There are still places left on the 1 hour intro to T'ai Chi session in the wonderful tapestry galleries of the V&A on Saturday 20th October. The price includes the class with me, a tour for one hour with an expert and a cup of tea or coffee in the café, plus entry to the building all day. Please let friends know who may be interested. This will be the forth time I will have run this class, and it is always a wonderful atmosphere doing T'ai Chi amongst such wonderful art, in the museum before the general public are let in.

Here is a photo from yesterday's class, thanks to Michael Parsons for assisting.

Summer T'ai Chi Intensive

The workshop is going ahead as planned and have just had final confirmation from the Sea Scouts that everything is fine and dandy. Details are here on the blog just to the right of these posts. Any issues, please call me or email any time. See you there!

12 June 2018

Next Short Form Study Class

It will be Monday 18th June, at the studio, £10, all welcome. Warm ups, Form x 2, questions, new postures week by week with applications.

10 June 2018

Kirsty said such a great thing today, when we were passing the damson trees which are normally full of fruit this time of year, but which are having a year off...

'Trees know how to rest.'

09 June 2018

Art blog

Here is my art blog.
It has lovely pictures of the materials I use and things I make, I am adding to it most days now. Feel free to peruse it and the art website, full of things like this...

Cherry tree exuding gum.

Eagle feathers, deer antlers and cherry tree gum, all will be used in my work over the coming months. Thanks to Anneke for feathers and antlers!

Kingswells Class

The Tuesday morning class that ran recently in Kingswells is no longer running, however, we have started a Wednesday evening class which is going well.  This runs in the community centre from 7:30pm to 9:00pm.  If you would like more information, please contact Alistair.

T'ai Chi this month

Sword workshop

Tea break with swords and biscuits

Sword applications

Sabre at Fetternear

Short form at Finzean, traditional each June

Pax kept an eye on everything

Long Form at Balvack

Mark teaching Sabre at Tooting class

Thanks to all class mates and students who have come along and made all these events so great. Summer is a wonderful time to practice with good friends and colleagues. Have a great weekend.

Upcoming workshops

Sabre: 2-5pm Sunday 24th June, either at usual Church Hall venue or at the Hampton Court venue, tbc. Please let us know if you intend to come, as venue depends on numbers. £22.

Short Form study class: continues this Monday at The HC Studio with Caroline, 7-9pm, all students welcome. £10

Wild Twins ride again...

May the forth be with you! I have just heard from Paul Kingsnorth that Wild Twins will run again from May 4th-10th 2019, as it went so well this May. All are welcome, no matter what experience of art or writing you have, from beginner to advanced. You can talk to Anja in Scotland or Sarah in London about their experiences, as we were lucky enough to have these two excellent T'ai Chi sisters join us. If you want to spend time writing or making art, or both in conviviality such as we usually only find at The T'ai Chi Centre and Great River, then come along and let friends know. I will have more online soon, hopefully launching next week, and will post it here.

Wild Twins 1 posse

Rainbow over Baltimore Bay

Making paints from madder, ochres and chalk, mixed with cherry tree gum from Davina's garden. Teaching in a buckskin skirt is such fun, but will not be coming to a T'ai Chi class near you any time soon as kicks could be a challenge.

Paul tells the old European tale 'The Lindwurm'

Just a small part of the materials we use.

View right outside the classroom, the wild Atlantic.

02 June 2018


June, Summer, Litha.
Greetings to all from the northern outpost of the schools, where the sun barely sets this time of year and the weather is amazing. I have never seen Aberdeen look as sunny and bright as I did on arrival yesterday, in all the years I lived up here. Last night we did Sabre, Sword and Staff, which was great fun, pictures soon. Today we will be at Anneke's for our usual June outdoor sessions. Tomorrow will be back at Balvack, hopefully also outdoors.

When outdoors at Fetternear, here at Balvack or over at Finzean, we often get to practice amongst fine old trees, mountains on the horizon and soft grassy earth under our feet. This is a great privilege, and cause for celebration. Doing T'ai Chi in a nice room with your classmates is a great thing, but being free to do so outside is a fine blessing. Where ever you are today, sneak outside for a bit of practice somehow, even if your day looks like it will be very busy. Even if it's just while the tea brews, go outside. Midsummer approaches and the time is perfect for some concerted practice, of whatever kind: Form, partnerwork, meditation, Heartwork.

Time for me to go and get ready to teach.

Our local swans last week they are much bigger than this already!

30 May 2018

Aberdeenshire Thursdays May to July

Here's the rota for the next block of Thursday sessions. As usual we'll be in the Small Hall 7-9pm and Large Hall 9-10pm at Monymusk. The price is £20 for 7 weeks or £5/week. We'll restart again on 9th August.

31-May   Paolo
07-Jun     Sandy
14-Jun     Scott
21-Jun     Davina
28-Jun     Marie
05-Jul      Janet
12-Jul      Paolo
19-Jul no class
26-Jul no class
02-Aug no class

If you can't make the session that you're due to lead then please contact someone on the list to arrange a swap.

29 May 2018

Buddhist and Taoist Terminology Fantasy Football Laegue

The Buddhists beat us Taoists hands down in the Terminology Fantasy Football League. They have such great words for all useful ideas, states and feelings. I realise that Tao and Zen are just two fingers pointing at the same moon, but humour me here, I have a joke to tell.

Line up: Buddhist end, Flat-back four - Grasping, Aversion, Ignorance, Oblivion, with Enlightenment in goal. Down the Taoist end it's just Emptiness and Form, Yin and Yang, not really defending anything, with Nothingness in goal, and so we always lose. 

It's a good thing we invest in loss.

28 May 2018

June workshops

The Aberdeenshire workshops with Caroline are this weekend, 1st-3rd June.
The Friday session is at Fetternear Hall (7pm start), Saturday is at Anneke's place, and Sunday sessions are at Balvack. Great River students of any level are particularly welcome to the Saturday sessions.

Friday 7-10pm: Weapons
Saturday 1-4pm: Short Form, and related study
Saturday 5:30-8:30pm: Partnerwork
Sunday 1-4pm: Long Form
Sunday 5.30-8.30pm: Advanced Studies and Dance

The price is £18 (concessions £12) per 3 hr session. Please bring food to share on Saturday and Sunday. Get in touch with your instructor if you need travel directions or feel free to contact me with any other questions.

25 May 2018

Open Space Technology

The five principles of Open Space Technology:
  1. Whoever comes are the right people
  2. Whenever it starts is the right time
  3. Wherever it happens is the right place
  4. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
  5. When it’s over, it’s over 

& the one law:
  • The law of Two Feet (aka the law of mobility aka the law of passion and responsibility)
If you find yourself somewhere where you are not learning, or not contributing, use the technology available to you (your two feet - if that’s what you use) and take yourself where your time is better spent. Only you know where that is. You are responsible for the quality of your own experience.

Thanks to Sarah from Tuesday class for this. I love it. It applies to our T'ai Chi, to art and to relationship. I wish I had applied it to my earlier art and music lives, I might have saved myself and others much trouble.

From Sarah: 'Open Space Technology was invented by Harrison Owen who gave it to the world and doesn’t require anyone to pay him for it, so it’s nice to credit him where possible. We/I use it to work on all sorts of issues for arts practitioners, as well as to make shows. It’s both a "business” and creative tool and it is awesome. If anyone wants more info, here ’tis: https://www.devotedanddisgruntled.com/about-open-space-technology '

The T'ai Chi Centre 13th Annual Summer Weeklong Intensive

Leander Sea Scouts, Kingston, near London.The 13th Annual Week Long Intensive will run from 21st-27th July 2018.
Friday 7-10pm. The regular Ta Lu, Wabu, knocking, San Shou practice session.
Workshop: Saturday 2pm - Friday 9.30pm (2-5pm and 6.30-9.30pm daily). Come on the first day and then for as many days as you can come to subsequently. £44 / £24 per day. We all bring food to share at the dinner break. There are spaces for Mark's or Caroline's students as well as other people to stay in the hall at no extra cost. Details of local B&B and self catering accommodation are available from Caroline. These weeks are wonderful times to work deeply in a friendly group with exceptional teaching in a beautiful and historic stretch of the river Thames.
All students are welcome to these workshops, including those from different schools or styles by arrangement. Please enquire by email or call 07732 659104 for availability and suitability.


Mark has been rereading some of John Kells' writings and sharing them on Tuesday this week as we worked deeply on push hands. 'Outreach, enter, join, accompany, linger'.

Very different from 'get out of the way', 'do whatever works' and 'deflect to maintain ward-off', which I have also heard for 'roll-back' on my T'ai Chi travels...

All of the above can be made to work, by which I mean, you will not get pushed over at that precise moment. Does that constitute success? Is a young birch sapling the same as a telegraph pole or a rotary clothes dryer?

More importantly, what does your regular practice cultivate? When you are old and not so strong and  fast, what will you have left to rely on? For a woman, of average height and build, such as myself, it was never worth investing in getting to be the very strongest or very fastest, as it would have been impossible. Of course I aim to be fit, have good posture, and I do attend to my physicality. The T'ai Chi Classics exhort us to be softer, more responsive and more aware every day. This we can do until we are old and venerable. It improves all of life vastly, and makes us more likely to evade life's blows and flourish even in hard times. Also, if you want to be walking and living freely in your old age, and not having falls, then T'ai Chi is proven to aid this.

En route, the practice of T'ai Chi Ch'uan is rich, interesting, relaxing and wonderful, means you meet superb folks, make good friends and have some exercise each week. These alone would be worth the effort. You may, incidentally, attain the pearl of great price.