Origins of the Taijiquan and qi Gong Federation for Europe (Tcfe) by Dan Docherty
Before the TCFE
During the late 1980s and early 1990s there was a coming together of Tai Chi Chuan and Qi Gong practitioners in a number of Western European countries which subsequently produced organisations such as the Netzwerk in Germany, the French Federation of Traditional Tai Chi Chuan, the Tai Chi Union for Great Britain, the Stichting in Holland, the Swiss Federationetc. This process has continued and there are now also organisations in Israel, Denmark, Russia, Slovenia, Belgium etc., while many other countries are in the process of discussing the setting up of national organisations.
In Britain we began to run the British Open Tai Chi Championships from 1989 onwards, subsequently national competitions also started up in Switzerland and Holand and more recently in France, Russia and Denmark.
In 1991 Serge Dreyer from France called a meeting of instructors from various European countries at the Rencontres Jasnieres Tai Chi Camp in France, which at that time was the only open multi-style Chinese internal arts event in Europe. We agreed with much goodwill to exchange information, to support one another, to do many things. We failed. We did nothing. There was no structure only goodwill.
In 1995 Wilhelm Mertens from Germany and Franz Redl from Austria held the first European Tai Chi and Qi Gong Netzwerk Forum in Italy. This event differed from Rencontres Jasnieres in a number of ways. Firstly it lasted a complete week, not just three days; secondly there was an academic element in the form of daily lectures; thirdly there were open forums where instructors and participants could discuss the development of the internal arts in their individual countries. It was agreed that the Forum was a success and that it should become a movable feast, held every two years. I agreed to organise the 2nd Forum in Hungary with the help of Orsolya Alfoldy, to try to bring in participation from the old Eastern Europe.
PROPOSALS FOR TCFE
In 1996 The French Federation of Traditional Tai Chi Chuan announced the 1st European Tai Chi Congress in Strasbourg. There were participants from many countries, including Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Sweden and Britain (me). The event was held over a long weekend and included workshops and demonstrations as well as discussions on the need for a European Tai Chi Chuan and Qi Gong Federation. Prominent in these discussions were Antoine Li, Marianne Plouvier, Yves Blanc, Alex Cheniere, Anya Meot, Hugues Deriaz and Roger Mastini from the French Federation, Karen Amberger from Austria and Eric Caulier from Belgium. Most, but not all delegates agreed with our colleagues in the French Federation for the need for such an organisation and the need to have the 2nd Congress in 12 months time, so a Belgian delegate proposed marrying the Congress to the Forum in Hungary. This was agreed.
Subsequent to the Forum I had meetings with French Federation colleagues – in particular Hugues, Roger and Anya, to work out statutes which would be acceptable to our friends in other countries. We then met a number of times in Holland with colleagues from Holland and Germany and agreed on a set of statutes and Executive Committee candidates to put before the 1997 Congress Forum in Hungary. This was the official beginning of the TCFE.
This event drew participants from Israel, Hungary, Russia, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Greece and Slovenia as well as from Ireland, Finland and Denmark ö countries which had not up to that point been much involved in the European discussions. The Forum ran as before from Sunday to Friday while the Congress was held on the Saturday and Sunday. The Congress passed the statutes with minor amendments. It was agreed that although more than one organisation could join from any one country, there would be only one vote per country. It was agreed to hold the next Congress Forum in Hungary in 1999 to make Eastern European participation easier.
Subsequently we agreed to set up a website, work on which is ongoing and which will list Federation events and general events such as competitions and multi style camps etc. Discussions are still taking place on issues such as teacher qualifications, competitions etc. The TCFE was registered under Dutch law and its address was registered in Holland.
The 3rd Forum in 1999 ran as usual with workshops, discussion groups and lectures. At the Congress we had open meetings as well as a general meeting which adopted the amendments made to the statutes to bring them into line with Dutch law. A new Executive Committee was elected:- President Epi van de Pol (Holland), Chairman Anya Meot (France), Treasurer Luc Defago (Switzerland), Vice President Dan Docherty (UK), Vice Chairman Helmut Oberlack (Germany), EC Member Jani Osojnik (Slovenia). It was further agreed that there had to be an annual Congress.
From November 17-19, 2000, the STN on behalf of the TCFE staged the 1st TCFE internal arts competition and exhibition in Utrecht, a Congress was also held during the event. While the competition was under way in the main hall, seminars in Nei Jia Quan and Qi Gong were given in other halls. There were unexpected problems during the competition, but the Technical College, which also formed the Appeals Committee, proved useful in helping to defuse these situations. New members were attracted to the TCFE because of the event. The general standard of pushing hands and forms was high with a great variety of styles and countries represented. Naturally mistakes were made as this was the first major competition organised by the TCFE, but it proved a valuable experience for all who were involved.
Particular thanks go to Epi van de Pol, Rob and Eric Volke, Ellen Schoemaker and Pierre De Cat for all their work before during and after the competition. It was an immense undertaking.
The 4th Forum took place in Prague organised by Vit Vojta, Pavel Smola and friends. Some new faces were brought in as teachers including instructors from Poland, Russia, Germany Austria and the Czech Republic. The food was good, the beer even better and foreign guests were well looked after with various excursions and special events organised by the Czech team. A Congress was also held with a changing of the guard in the Executive Committee. Denmark, in the person of Torben Rif put forward a proposal to organise the next TCFE internal arts competition and exhibition in October 2002. Subsequently this proposal was accepted and the event will take place in Vejle.
(in Hanover) and the annual demonstrations and competitions organised by our individual member countries.
The TCFE hasn’t worked as well or as fast as many of us hoped, there are still many problems, but at least now there is a structure as well as goodwill. Our organisation is there to further the interests of all practitioners of the internal arts in Europe not just teachers. We need feedback from practitioners of the internal arts from all over Europe in the form of criticism and suggestions, but better still in the form of active participation at TCFE events such as the forthcoming VIII European Championship