After ten years of practicing tai chi in my local school in Finland, I decided to find out what’s out there in the world. I googled for a while for tai chi events in Europe with the special aim at potential pushing hands seminars. That’s when I found it: International push hands meeting in Hannover. After reading through the web page of the event, I made the decision to give it a try within two hours. No sleeping overnight needed.
So, there I was, in Linden Hannover on a sunny Tuesday evening in April. The street where the school was situated was really something special with the paintings on the walls. Something that I have never seen in Finland – or anywhere else, for that matter. Feeling excited, terrified and hilarious at the same time I decided to think about my situation by a glass of beer since I was early, anyway. So, there I was, a small-sized young(ish) woman all alone in Hannover, not exactly knowing what would happen within the next five days with people I have never met before. Couldn’t help but laugh at myself and wonder how I ended up here!
After gathering enough courage to enter the building I found an exceptionally beautiful dojo and Nils came to say hi. He invited me for the dinner, where I met some of the teachers and a few other seminar participants. Everyone was so friendly to me and I started to relax a little bit.
On the first morning, I was excited and nervous, not knowing what would happen. There were three workshops and the teachers briefly introduced themselves. Everything was interesting, but I decided to go with Frederick Behar, and I attended his workshops for three days. The Way of Non-force was fascinating topic and difficult to master. I gained so much insight from this and learned some things from him that almost seemed like magic to me!
In the afternoon, it was the turn for free pushing hands session. I was somewhat concerned how would it go. Would it get too rough or unpleasant? However, this was not the case at all! Before beginning the free push hands session, Nils made the rules very clear and I immediately felt comfortable. It was apparent that Nils wanted everybody to feel safe and comfortable during the whole meeting, and if you didn’t feel good with your partner, you were just free to stop and change the partner. I never had to do this, though.
The second day started with qigong session by Barry McGinlay. He was so excited about it that on consecutive days we started at 8 o’clock, even after the party night! I truly enjoyed his qigong sessions which were both physically demanding at some points, but oh so tranquilizing! Besides of tai chi, I also practice karate and I will adopt his mobility exercises in my own training.
For the last two days, I attended Barry’s workshops. I was so impressed by his presence. So full of life, all aspects of it, I think. Demanding and humorous at the same time, willing to give all that he got for us. I wish that I could absorb at least a bit of his energy and bring it back home.
During the five days, I met so many wonderful friendly souls and touched so many people. In fact, I don’t think I have ever touched so many people. I found the experience very empowering and learned new things about myself along the way. I think it was amazing that with some people you immediately felt some kind of familiarity without saying a word. The atmosphere during the whole meeting was very warm, friendly and relaxing. I think it changed my perception of many aspects of life, not just my tai chi.
I’m so happy, and also proud of myself, that I had enough courage to come to Hannover all the way from Finland all by myself. I sincerely want to thank Nils and other organizers Gabi and Birgit for all their efforts! See you next year!
Video “Push Hands Meeting 2018 – Thank you!”
Author: Marja Heiskanen
Images: Push Hands Meeting Hannover