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 and San Shou. We also study a wide range of practices to develop rooting, uprooting, connectedness, sticking, sensitivity and silk-reeling, as well as much else.
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. 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 2015 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 have remained in tough with him over the following years. 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 and was asked to take over a long-running class in Hackney by T'ai Chi Master Steven Moore, when he emigrated to Israel. Since then I started teaching 121 sessions with private students and small groups. My senior students took over instructing beginners' classes in Aberdeenshire and I visit them monthly to teach them and to run workshops. In 2016 I passed my Hackney class on to my senior London student, Carmen Saccone, who has assisted me for many years, and also studies with my teacher.
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, 2008, 2009, 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 partnerwork of all kinds. I have not found an end to the wonders of this art and after over 18 years of study, still feel as much excitement about what I'm learning as I did as a beginner
Instructors for Great River T'ai Chi
Scott Allan has been studying with Caroline Ross since 2003 and has completed many workshops with Mark Raudva. Scott is a great communicator and helps teach at all classes as well as running his own class at Oldmeldrum and Kintore. He assisted Caroline at Inverurie classes in 2006 and at workshops in Sweden. firstname.lastname@example.org
Davina Gray has been studying with Caroline since 2003 and has completed many workshops with Mark. She studied with John Kells at workshops in 2006. Davina teaches the Turriff and Inverurie classes and organises Caroline's sessions as well as the day-to-day running of the School in Aberdeenshire. She has assisted Caroline regularly, runs summer T'ai Chi workshops in Sweden and teaches beginners and intermediates with sensitivity and insight. Email Davina
Paolo Marioni has been studying with Caroline since 2003 and has completed many workshops with Mark. He studied with John Kells at a workshop in 2006. He teaches the Monymusk class and has assisted Caroline on many occasions, often being the 'test model' for demonstrating applications with great humour. Email Paolo
Anneke Stolte has been studying with Caroline since 2008 with real energy and great softness. She is also a qualified Tara Approach teacher and Shiatsu practitioner. She will be returning to instructing again in the Deeside area in 2016. Email Anneke
Carmen Saccone has studied with Caroline since 2008 and goes to weekly classes and all workshops of the T'ai Chi Centre. She assisted Caroline with great energy and skill at Hackney each week for many years and since January 2016 took over teaching at Hackney. She teaches private sessions for students in North London and runs workshops for businesses and groups.
Alistair Bain first studied with Neil Dey and now studies with Caroline each month and Mark at workshops. He has previous experience in a range of martial arts and teaches in the Deeside area with sensitivity and enthusiasm.
Jonathan Monks has been studying intensively with Caroline and Mark for a long time, as well as being an inspiring singing teacher, a renowned teacher of Yoga and originator of Yogamonks. Jonathan teaches T'ai Chi 121 in London and Sweden, and may soon start a class in Gothenburg. Details at lotuslectures.com.
David Knight is Caroline's T'ai Chi brother and has been a fellow student at The T'ai Chi Centre since 2001. He helped run Great River for six months in 2005/6 and generously stepped in to teach London classes (and an Aberdeenshire weekend) when Caroline was unavailable. David teaches T'ai Chi privately and for groups in London. He is also a Free Scholler of the 1595 Club.
Neil Dey passed away in October 2015 and is greatly missed by all. He was a hugely experienced and subtle practitioner and teacher of Shiatsu at Aberdeen College of Shiatsu and a T'ai Chi teacher in the Deeside area of Aberdeenshire. He studied Yang Style T'ai Chi Form for some time before joining us, including with Gerda 'Pytt' Geddes, the first teacher of T'ai Chi Ch'uan in the UK. He began studying with Caroline and Mark in 2005 and attended all the workshops held since then until 2015. Neil ran classes in Deeside and Cults, and assisted at many Great River classes with a special passion for partner work. He was a true 'gentle warrior' in his way of life and also in how he approached his death. It was an honour and a pleasure to have spent time doing T'ai Chi with him, and to have been his friend.
Caroline Ross has been a student of Mark Raudva since 2001.
Mark Raudva studied with Dr. John Kells at the British T'ai Chi Ch'uan Association for nine years. Mark began teaching in 1989, he founded The T'ai Chi Centre in 1995.
Dr. John Kells founded the B.T.C.C.A. in 1968 - it is the oldest T'ai Chi organisation in Europe. In 1976 Dr. Kells was the first Westerner to become an internationally recognised Master of T'ai Chi Ch'uan, he has had many notable teachers, one of the most important being Dr. Chi Chiang Tao who was Professor Cheng Man-ch'ing's top student.