Musings on the 26th TCHI Conference – Wollongong
Landed in Coimbatore, relaxed and stretched, despite the 48-plus hours journey home after the 26th Tai Chi for Health Institute - TCHI Conference in Wollongong. A couple of hours on the train and about twelve hours of flying, with stops and breaks in between, gave me time to ruminate and digest the multi-layered, dimensional learning infused by Tai Chi training.
Beginning at 9 am on Monday, the 8th of January '24, at Novotel Wollongong, the conference progressed steadily until 3.30 pm on the 12th . A plenary session every morning, led by a Senior Instructor of TCHI, brought all participants - about 60 of us - together. Announcements were followed by demonstrations of Tai Chi forms; the latter set the tone for our training, which commenced at 9.45 am daily. Every hour and a half of training was followed by tea breaks until the lunch break and the final session ending at 4pm. Daily, the following 6 parallel sessions went on:
- Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention, Levels 1 & 2,
- Yang 24 forms
- Sun 73 forms
- Depth of Sun 73
- Mixed 42 forms &
- Chen 36 forms
Five of us trained in Chen 36 with instructor Sybil Wong (2024). Pursuing her PhD in History, Sybil’s commitment to guide us to perfect the forms created an ambience of curiosity and interest. My first encounter with Chen 36 was in 2023, and the deep engagement this second time with each of the forms provided a sense of mastery and heightened awareness. The complexities of the forms dissolved, and appreciation of their nuances emerged.
Let me now move to the Tai Chi tips, which are in essence life tips embedded in the training.
- ‘Whole body movement, (in forms) for unified generation of power, where nothing is opposed’ Sybil
- ‘Evidence-based teaching is a science… Tai Chi training by TCHI is safe & effective. Safe because it attends to the physical, emotional, and environmental safety of participants’. Dr. Lam (2024).
- ‘the more we practice Tai Chi, the more we are able to face challenges’ Dr. Lam
I was deeply moved by The Innovative Excellence and Community Partnership Award presented to Master Trainer Mike Soric and Senior Trainer Denise Soric for their innovative and caring approach to training Kara as an instructor (2023). ‘Kara is autistic and non-verbal’ (Mike 2024), and is keen on becoming a Master Trainer, to teach Tai Chi to individuals like her. Here are some excerpts from Mike and Denise’s speech:
- ‘Focus on What is Possible,
- Everybody should be allowed to do Tai Chi, no matter what,
- Customise Tai Chi to suit capabilities,
- Interpret the feel of the movement,
- Helping one person may not change the world but will change the world for one person’.
The richness of my conference experiences may be glimpsed from the birds eye view of its structure and content. Let me now go to our unique experiences of Chen 36 classes.
Hillary, my fellow participant summarised our experience beautifully when she said: ‘ we have origins in different nations- Australia, India, Saudi Arabia, Spain and South Africa- our instructor is from Hongkong; yet there is a beautiful harmony amongst us’. Diago gallantly walked with me to my motel, after our dinner on the 12th at Novotel; I hesitated to go alone because of the darkness and the fighting on the street the previous night.
The tiredness, aches and pains from repeated practices faded with the camaraderie and the thirst for learning in our class.
Dipping in the Pacific ocean was a turning point for me. Gingerly I stepped in the shallow, sheltered waters at first; gradually progressed to wading knee deep and finally a full Pacific immersion. And I returned to India, resolving to begin swimming again.
Coming back to Coimbatore, I was in awe of the multi-pronged experiences from the trip to Australia. Jerry Lawson’s Tai Chi and Dance for building relationships captured my attention, and we will immediately begin its application in Nitya Gurukula.
Also, we intend to plan our International Tai Chi Conference 2024 in September based on Tai Chi principles. I had the opportunity to showcase ITCC Teaser at the plenary on the 11th and it generated curiosity, interest and appreciation. Coming to ITCC planning, the trend is to focus on the to do list. NG commitment is not to be driven, but to be drawn by the core goal of the conference, which is:
Wholeness and Wellness in Relationships: in Self, Others & Environment.
This musing is tempered with a gush of my experiences- looking forward to seeing you in the next SC Musings with the theme-
‘let’s yield, absorb, redirect and harmonise’.
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