The Great River School of T’ai Chi teaches the Yang style syllabus of the British T’ai Chi Ch’uan Association, including Short Form, the warm up set, Chi Kung, pushing hands, Ta Lu, Wabu, Sabre, Sword and Staff Forms and Long Form, Left side special form and San Shou (The Dance). We also study a wide range of practices to develop rooting, uprooting, connectedness, sticking, sensitivity and silk-reeling, as well as much else.
Inclusivity: All people are welcome to our classes, whatever your background, nationality, race, gender, sexuality, age, fitness, size, livelihood, beliefs, or any other signifying quality. We teach under 16s separately from adults, to conform to UK safeguarding laws. If you have any questions as to your ability to join in our classes you are warmly invited to get in touch.
About the teacher
About Caroline: I began T’ai Chi at my local Adult Education Centre in Boscombe, Bournemouth when I was about 14 years old. The class was run by a great Yang Style teacher called Richard Siwiak, who is still teaching and working with T’ai Chi in York. Sadly I have no pictures from those days. His classes were very friendly and it was easy to learn well in the supportive, calm atmosphere. That year, and for a further six yearly retreats during the following 15 years, I studied Yang Style T’ai Chi and meditation at Newbold House (part of the Findhorn Foundation) with Kajedo Wanderer, a student of Petra and Toyo Kobayashi, students of Dr Chi. Kajedo’s ‘Gentle Warrior’ courses were excellent, and I am still in touch with him and am grateful for his breadth of teaching, especially for emphasising T’ai Chi principles in action in everyday life.
I have been studying T’ai Chi with Mark Raudva at The T’ai Chi Centre since 2001. I attend his classes, workshops and intensives and assist whenever needed. The syllabus of Great River is based on what I have learned, and continue to study, with Master Raudva. I am deeply indebted to my teacher for his patience and understanding in teaching me this wonderful art.
I moved to Scotland for five years to build a recording studio, record and tour with my band. Whilst there, I started a beginners class, mainly so I had folks to do T’ai Chi with. I had looked around for a class to join, but found nothing to compare with The T’ai Chi Centre. Slowly my classes grew and I continued studying by travelling the 1200 mile round trip to London for 121s every 2 months or so. After a while I began to organise workshops for my students with my teacher, at my home. After I left Scotland we continued these workshops at other student’s homes, and then at local halls, when we outgrew the houses. I continue to organise these events, and the 5th Annual Intensive was held in July 2010 at Fetternear Hall, with 27 attendees. I now organise these workshops annually, and in 2019 we had over 50 students attend for a week of great T’ai Chi beside the river Thames at our new venue in Kingston.
During 2006-7 I attended the BTCCA weekend workshops with several of my Scottish students, as well as a term of evening classes with Grandmaster John Kells along with some of my colleagues from The T’ai Chi Centre. I attended a further transformative workshop with him in 2010, and remained in touch with him over the following years. John Kells died in 2018. With permission from my teacher, and purely for my own interest and research, I attended a year of regular London workshops with the Chen Style Master Wang Hai-Jun, with whom I learned the Chen Short Form at Taichi Caledonia in 2007. At these monthly classes we studied the Lao-Jia (Old Frame), a little push hands and silk-reeling. I moved back to London in 2007 until 2016 I taught in Hackney, after being asked to take over a long-running class at the round Chapel by T’ai Chi Master Steven Moore, when he emigrated to Israel. I started teaching 121 sessions with private students and small groups and regular classes in London and Sweden. My senior students took over instructing beginners’ classes in Aberdeenshire and I visited them monthly to teach them and to run workshops until 2020 when Covid-19 interrupted us, and I passed my Scottish teaching to my T’ai Chi Master, so that I could take a sabbatical during 2020-21 and so that my excellent students could study further.
I was invited to teach T’ai Chi to the physical theatre students at Central School of Speech and Drama from January – March 2009. Great River also ran a lunchtime class at Amnesty International for 3 years as well as providing occasional demonstrations and special classes for local schools and other organisations, groups, and firms. I attended four weekend UK workshops held by Canadian T’ai Chi Master Sam Masich as well as Hanover Push Hands Meet 2008 and Taichi Caledonia in 2007-2010. Among the notable teachers with whom I studied for the four-day sessions are Fernando Chedel, Faye Li Yip, Luigi Zanini and Henk Janssen.
For the last few years I have continued to study and deepen my T’ai Chi, working particularly on San Shou, Heart Work, Sword and partner work of all kinds. I have not found an end to the wonders of this art and after over 24 years of study, still feel as intrigued about what I’m learning as I did as a beginner. It is still fun, too.