There was a time when there were very few tai chi practitioners training in Europe and the opportunities for meeting, working, and sharing skills with fellow players was almost non-existent. Today there are Internal Arts gatherings in most European countries (Push Hands Meetings: Germany, Czech Republic, Italy, Multi-Style Gatherings: Switzerland, Scotland, Italy, Netherlands & Spain) where players of all styles and approaches to these arts meet, congregate and exchange. It all started 26 years ago with Recontres Jasnieres (RJ) set in a campsite near the quiet sleepy village of Marcon, Loire Valley in France. The brainchild of long-term practitioner Serge Dreyer, who has for some considerable time been resident in Taiwan, and now organised is by a team of his long-term students through their ARAMIS organisation.
For various reasons (economic situation, plethora of other events?) RJ 2013 was somewhat quieter than usual with barely 200 participants, which would still be a very busy time for any of the other events. As ever they provided a good range of instructors from various locations: Alibert Thierry (Fr), Avivi Saar (Sweden), Benetti Roberto (I), Condamine Luce (Fr), Dreyer Serge (Fr), Du Feu Martin (Jer.), Dornelly Godfrey (GB), Gianfranco Pace (I), Heckert Andrews (USA), Huynh Chieu Dong (Be), Kocica Daishi Chu (USA), Kramstova Tatiana (Rus), Menaged Nathan (USA), Othman Vigl (I), Paul Andrews (GB), Plewniak Frédéric (Fr), Robinson Ronnie (Scot.), Smith Lauren (Ger), Sokolovitch Philippe (Fr), van Drooge Judith (NL).
The event runs over three days, always on the last weekend in July, and consists of two workshops in the morning and three hours free push hands exchange in the afternoon. Taking place outdoors, in a lovely fresh, open environment, close to a large lake, the environment is well suited to the practice of tai chi and qigong and being in the high summer it is seldom affected by long periods of rain and the isolated showers don’t seem to be too troublesome. This year most of us were fortunate that the storms arrived in the late hours of the night, leaving the daytime fresh and dry, although one or two had tent-flooding problems.
For many the highlight of the event is the opportunity to push hands with people of varying abilities and styles. The organisers try to ensure a healthy open spirit to the exchange and in the main everything is good-natured, if not it won’t be long until you can change partners. As a prequel to the open push hands teachers or students are able to demonstrate their skills which allows us to see a range of disciplines, both popular systems and rarely seen material. Again the spirit of openness is prevalent with the presentation of skills and perhaps a little consideration of time and variety might allow a more varied and dynamic presentation.
One of the main reasons for the ongoing success of RJ is that there is a relaxed atmosphere and for those who are camping, the opportunity to eat, drink and spend time with fellow players, old and new. Many long-term friendships have resulted from such gatherings together with an continued development in the practice of these arts.
Recontres Jasnieres takes place over the last weekend in July every year.
Visit their website at http://aramis72.taichi.free.fr
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Author: Ronnie Robinson