I had some 9 years experience of Chinese Martial Arts study behind me including Taijiquan prior to working overseas. I returned to Scotland in 1981 and my first encounter with Ronnie was through his self published “Essence of Tai Chi Chuan” provided by his then Teacher Larry Butler who I sought out in Glasgow for further teaching.
Larry had spoke of him as a shrewd businessman who had organised health festivals throughout Glasgow and who also teaches Taiji. Eventually we met at a class Larry had organised and my first impressions of him were one of an abrupt pain in the butt that needs sorting out! This was to change however.
We met on several other occasions thereafter, mainly at workshops organised by Larry and “clicked” at one in particular – the Lawrence Galante workshop in Glasgow. Ronnie’s sardonic perspective of the chap had me in stitches after the event and I thought yep – this guy has a similar humour as I.
Years went past very quickly after this with much collaboration in events. Ronnie had certain a way of people in ways you don’t expect – he had me as a bloody detective come body guard at a few of his “Connections Festivals” – unpaid I may add! But that was Ronnie and I’m not even going into what some of you poor sods ate in the early years of Tai Chi Caledonia.
Tai Chi Caledonia came about after I had a meeting with old “moneybags” Robinson (He did have shrewd business sense). Both of us had accrued around 20 years experience together in the organisation of public events – Ronnie with Taiji / health workshops and Connections Festivals, and I with Taijiquan / Qigong workshops and Martial Arts Showcases.
Following talks with Serge Dryer in France regarding the influence of drawing together Taijiquan events through Europe, I had the idea of a similar type of event in Scotland utilising the collective experience of Ronnie and I with the format of our organisation skills. This I discussed with Ronnie – the financial backer (did I mention he was very shrewd?) as we had to invest in the hire of a venue and many other costly arrangements at that time. The first event was at a Military Camp in Aviemore that was very extreme in all aspects with four seasons appearing in one day,
Ronnie and I wondered where we could get the cheapest food to feed the participants, the cheapest beers and yet make it a success. It worked out however, but there times we had to ensure there were no artillery in the camp as the food for the whole week was vegetarian!
We had several other venues for Tai Chi Caledonia with many laughs at the predicaments we ended up in including organising on the wing, rushed excuses when there was something we had forgot to do (with the blame going to the venue), and what we had put our poor participants through who usually took it in their stride!
During this period I took Ronnie to Rencontres Jasnieres where I believe he really found his niche in the Taiji world in mixing and networking with other teachers. We also had Ronnie’s acceptance of joining the TCUGB, and the post of editor of the TCUGB Magazine following Robin Johnstone (the previous editor) moving to Canada. I should point out at this time; Ronnie already had the necessary skills in the writing and publication of articles and had close ties with Linda Chase Broda, Taiji Teacher and editor of “Cahoots” magazine.
Our travels to London in the early days of the TCUGB were an adventure. On one occasion, Ronnie had booked the Hilton hotel near the houses of Parliament. He taught Taiji in the Hilton hotels throughout Glasgow and got the rooms for 20% of the cost per night – he was a shrewd businessman. However, on our arrival, it was only one room with two single beds joined together!
Needless to say, Ronnie freaked out. He asked me to see reception downstairs to complain and be re-located to other rooms. Unfortunately, the hotel was fully booked and when I opened the door of our accommodation, I was met with the beds separated and all the furniture in the room carefully built up like a barricade between the two beds! Having arrived in London with over two hundred magazines for distribution at the Executive Committee Meeting, we carried them through the city from our hotel, stopping in Hyde Park for some practice on the way – I practiced, he watched the women joggers.
I handed my Tai Chi Caledonia reins over to Ronnie many years ago and watched it grow spectacularly under Ronnie’s management. Since then, Ronnie had always been a close friend and at times advisor.
Many people don’t realise he had an extensive knowledge on contemporary and folk music. He loved Van Morrison and Bob Dylan. But when we discussed music of the 70’s / early 80’s, I often stood corrected from his rapid recall and encyclopaedic knowledge of musicians, songs and lyrics of the time.
We attended a number of concerts together and our last concert was Crosby, Stills and Nash in Glasgow in September of last year. At the end of a magnificent concert, Stephen Stills threw his plectrum across the stage floor, and the band went off stage.
Ronnie started shouting at the roadies on stage to pick up the plectrum for his son and continued to do so until he successfully acquired it with an accompanying beaming smile!
This little summation of our times does not give justice to the man as there are many more tales I could tell over our 35 years or so of camaraderie throughout which time, he taught me how and how not to tolerate certain individuals, to be less trusting, and how to swear appropriately with correct timing!
Watching him lose his battle with the insidious disease of Cancer has been heartbreaking and I was glad to have been asked to write this short synopsis of my time with him as I found it very therapeutic.
Overall, what has Ronnie brought to the Taijiquan and Internal Martial Arts Practitioners and Participants table?
From my perspective, he’s opened up a new world for a great many people.
Through his networking and editorials, he has exposed many new and upcoming Teachers to the world.
Through introductions, gatherings and organisation, he has introduced people of similar likes in the creation of long term friendships and relationships. He’s provided documents, references, and a myriad of publications in the proliferation of Taijiquan and related Arts academia.
He has also brought up a wonderful intelligent and talented son who he loved more than anything.
Conversely and in addition, my only fear is, what has he been scheming and with whom in the next world!!!
Ronnie Robinson, Caledonia’s wizard
Now that Ronnie Robinson is not any longer here with us, it strikes me even more evidently the importance of his contribution to the development of Taijiquan and Qigong in Europe. Caledonia has been an excellent vehicle for helping people meeting and sharing, for the promotion and the evolution of our arts, and for the social impact the event had. I would like to remember here Ronnie the way I knew him, the way I lived the Tai Chi Caledonia experience, starting from the first edition until the twentieth anniversary. And when I talk about Caledonia, I really mean Ronnie, since they were the same thing in the end.
We met twenty years ago somewhere in Europe. After having seen the “Rencontres Jasnieres” in France, organized by Serge Dreyer, Bob Lowey and Ronnie decided that they wanted to replicate such an event in Scotland. Ronnie was teaching Qigong at that time, he had just opened his own company, Chiron, and started his new career as a teacher in Qigong and Taijiquan and selling books. I remember still the genuine enthusiasm for this new adventure, they really wanted to start a new era in Scotland. And they made it.
When the Caledonia project started, we were in the mid ’90s, and the world was quite different from what we know today. Twenty years ago there was no common use of emails, only fax. Mails and telegrams were made of paper, and the global communication was one way: television. Mobile phones were few and expensive, and you could only talk or message, nothing more. Communication was much slower and more local then today. Time was slower. It was a much less connected world, no images and sounds in real time. To start a new business project like this, you had to be a real pioneer inside, investing youself, money and work, ready to go forward no matter what, against all odds.
In the beginning Caledonia had two souls, one yin and one yang: one was Bob Lowey, the man of music, of laugh, of confidence. The other was Ronnie, the man of numbers, organization and decisions. As it happens, at one point the Caledonia Brothers separated, Ronnie took the drive, but luckily enough Bob managed to remain somehow always present in Caledonia with his music, his classes and his jokes. To me the two of them have been always equally important for the balance of the event.
For Tai Chi Caledonia, Ronnie had clear goals: first, he wanted Taijiquan and Qigong to become spread and recognized; second, he wanted to enhance the technical quality via qualified teachers; third, he wanted to foster exchange of knowledge among practitioners, it means more choices for those who practiced. In order to do that, he started inviting a little group of teachers he had met in France, and this way the first edition of Tai Chi Caledonia was born. It was 1996, the location was Rothiemurchus Lodge, close to Aviemore, in the Highlands, in an old Royal Air Force refuge lost in a huge park, in wooden chalets.
The following year the event took place in Castle Toward, in Dunoon, where we had a complete Caste at our disposal, big greens and an amazing sea sight. After a third edition in a different place, we finally landed in Stirling, in the prestigious frame of Stirling University Campus, which really worked fine for Caledonia (by the way, we were hosted again in wooden chalets, like the first edition). In Stirling premises, Caledonia progressively took value and found the right address for Taijiquan, the Sport University of Scotland indeed. Being directly under the Braveheart Memorial contributed to the magical fascination of the venue, and the european martial community started to ask for his stage, loved to be there, wanted to come back again. As soon as money was there, Ronnie invited famous teachers from the States and abroad, and Callie (as “veterans” call Caledonia) became even more international.
Years passed quickly, and the 2008 edition was one of the most brilliant: the mayor of Stirling asked Caledonia’s teachers to perform in the external courtyard of Stirling’s Castle, for the joy of tourists. Taijiquan is becoming famous, and even the economical crisis that burst in 2009 does not affect relatively the figures of Caledonia. People like and supports the event, and numbers grow. In 2015 twenty years are gone, and Ronnie knows that he has to play his best: this edition must be top notch, there must be investments, a real theatre gala, a professional organization behind. The project goes on stage, small details do not work in the last minute, but the spirit of Caledonia brings the atmosphere beyond expectations. Everybody was very excited to be there, to meet people again they had met 15, 20 years before, and still the same genuine feeling of happiness and gratitude for all we exchanged. And then… fish and chips for everybody!
Ronnie knew by experience that this event was a mix of three basic elements: common sense approach in the organization (“make it easy”, relaxed style), taking care of the social aspect, make the best out of staying together, and the best possible quality in the tuition offer, from Qigong to Tuishou and weapons. But the secret component of the soup, which gave taste and flavor to every very day, was invariably the “third time”, the spontaneous Tuishou sessions in the evening, the nights in the chalets, beer in a hand and chatting for the whole night, making new friends, discovering. The sweet, “vintage” portrait of lady Gerda Geddes, pioneer of Taijiquan in UK, who studied in China, when China was closed and far away, was another good choice to create good mood and add value to the event. If you consider dances, music, Chinese dinners, ceilidh, pipes, highlands and whisky, then you have the whole picture.
Tai Chi Caledonia has been an incredible laboratory for interpersonal alchemy, where everyone could express himself. It was a protected ambience, where relationships could develop and barriers could be removed easily. People arrived alone and isolated, but often shared tears one week later leaving Stirling, and every year was like a “who is gonna missing this year?”. Even if it sound like a commonplace, in Caledonia we could witness the birth of new families, new professionals started their careers, todays known teachers had a chance to introduce themselves. Taijiquan in Callie has literally saved lives in subtle ways, often giving people a meaning of life when they had lost theirs. Of course not everybody in Martial Arts appreciate this social aspect of the event, but this has become the trade mark, the beauty of Caledonia for many of us.
I owe Ronnie the possibility of teaching in Scotland, but also – even more important – to meet some of the best teachers I could reach in my martial growth at that time, to make new friends, to know and share time with great persons that made my life richer. Strange as it may sound, Ronnie has been generous to me many times. In 2001, just after the Twin Towers, I had no job and was looking for alternatives, but with no results. Ronnie decided to organize a two days event in Glasgow for me, and the result allowed me to keep on going. Years later, Ronnie rung me up in Italy and asked: “do you like Leonard Cohen?”. As a matter of fact, during Caledonia that year I was in Edinburgh castle in a fantastic concert, I would never been able to see. When Ronnie was exhausted, he took the plane and spent a week with us, a bike to ride the country side of Vicenza, or in the Alps, walking through forests. It was nice to have him here.
As Ronnie said jokingly, I’m the only person that has participated to Callie “more then him”. In these days of uncertainty and goodbyes, I discovered something I didn’t know: that Ronnie was born in a fisherman family. Now I understand his passion for Venice, since he started teaching at “Aquavenice” years ago. There he found again the right place for his melancholic sea spirit, which makes Venice unique. Also his determination, that often bordered on stubbornness, was typical of a fisherman that never loses his prey, until the end. And he never lost the grip, even in the last days. In the end, Ronnie has carried out and washed ashore the biggest fish of his life, a little bit like Hemingway’s old man of the sea. In my mind, his two fishes are Tai Chi Caledonia on one side, and his son, Paul Robinson.
What could I now wish to you, my dear friend? A serene transition for your soul to your next life, perhaps a lot of chitchat over there with Chan Sanfeng, Lao Tsu and all old wise Qigong masters. Sure, they will too find amazing to know what you have been able to realize here with Taijiquan and Qigong, for the good of so many people, which will never forget you. Yes, a nice daoist way to become an Immortal, by the way.
Thanks Ronnie, from heart.
Ronnie – a friend.
Without Taiji or Qigong I would probably never have met Ronnie, I guess the same applies to most of us. We met at a large pan-European Taiji and Qigong convention in Hungary, just before the end of the last millennium. I was there to represent the German Taijiquan and Qigong Network, he was there because he was involved in the Tai Chi Union. It didn’t take long for us to click. Ronnie had the gift of getting on well with people, and people warmed to him quickly. It probably took me a little longer – but only because I struggled with his Scottish accent at first…
In 2000 I invited him to a convention hosted by the Taijiquan and Qigong Network in Germany. Gabi was working in the Network’s office at the time, and this is where she met Ronnie. – And not long after, the Taijiquan and Qigong Network had to find a new person to run the office
Thus Ronnie acquired two stepchildren, and a little later he and Gabi also had a child together. He loved being a stepdad and a dad, and he put a lot of energy into these roles.
Ronnie and I kept in touch as we were both editors of a magazine about Taijiquan and Qigong – Ronnie in the UK, me in Germany. He was always extremely helpful. I can’t tell you how many photos he contributed for printing from his massive archive, some of which even made it to the magazine’s cover. Whenever there was anything I needed, he would help me, even when time was short. That was just what he did.
We became very good friends. I have fond memories of his stays with Tamara and me. One winter he brought Paul with him to our house. It was a proper winter, and the two had a wonderful time building a snowman in our garden. He thought we had more snow than he had ever seen in Scotland!
Of course Tamara and I also went on several trips to Tai Chi Caledonia. For us it was always the best type of Taiji meetings: the great instructors, the relaxed atmosphere, the lovely Scots, and it was also always a great opportunity to catch up with Ronnie.
Fortunately we also managed to attend the last one, the 20th anniversary convention. He had put so much work into preparing this convention, and had planned everything in great detail. We had also never seen him this tense before – not really surprising under the circumstances. And still, despite the stressful situation and the minor
glitches that occurred, his sense of humour, his warmth and his empathy for everyone were evident throughout. The thing that impressed me most was the gala. Ronnie in a kilt on the big stage! Everything was brilliantly arranged and choreographed. Only the video clips didn’t quite work as intended, but he just took it in his stride, with his typical Scottish humour. In a way the glitches made the event even more memorable. Maybe he actually put them in intentionally? This particular Caledonia, planned with so much passion (as of course were all the previous ones), was his masterpiece.
With Ronnie’s passing the Taiji and Qigong community in Europe has lost the person who held us all together. And I personally have lost a good friend. I am sure I’m not alone in this. Ronnie, rest in peace, you’ll always stay in our hearts
FAYE & TARY YIP:
A small tribute to our friend Ronnie:
We are greatly saddened to hear that our good friend, Ronnie Robinson has passed away. We are still in disbelief that only last year Ronnie was full of life and we talked, laughed and joked in Tai Chi Caledonia when we were celebrating it’s 20th anniversary. Life is so precious and yet so fragile!
We have known Ronnie for more than 20 years, through the years his dedication and tireless effort in promoting Tai Chi and Qigong in the UK and Europe inspired many Tai Chi Teachers and practitioners.
Tai Chi Caledonia has provided a fantastic platform for world famous Tai Chi Teachers and rising talents in the field to reach out to Tai Chi and Qigong enthusiasts all over the world, bringing Tai Chi & Qigong family together without borders. This could not have been achieved without Ronnie’s fantastic organising acumen, great people skill and sheer dedication.
He might not have been a smooth talker or great diplomat, but his earnestness, love and passion for Tai Chi has touched us all. Not only did Ronnie promoted Tai Chi & Qigong tirelessly throughout Europe, we also worked together so he could provide Tai Chi enthusiasts the real opportunity of travelling to China, the land of Tai Chi to learn and exchange Tai Chi.
Ronnie’s contribution to Tai Chi & Qigong is immense and invaluable and we are sure, like us, Tai Chi teachers, enthusiasts and players, who have known him, worked with him or taken part in activities he organised are grateful for the platform he provided and his achievement in making Tai Chi and Tai Chi Caledonia a great place for friendship and enjoyment.
We sincerely hope his legacy will live on through Tai Chi Caledonia and Tai Chi Magazine. May you rest in peace, our friend and enjoy a happy afterlife in the Garden of Eden and in the arms of God.
Greatest respects from our hearts
Ronnie, The Friend I Knew
It is my great privilege to contribute some words about my very good friend Ronnie Robinson.
I first met Ronnie at the third Tai Chi Caledonia, the first one to be held on the Stirling University campus. I remember on the last night I bought him and Bob Lowey a drink. It was nothing personal, I just wanted to say thanks to them for providing the chance to attend such an awesome week which had opened my eyes to how much was out there in the world of internal arts.
From what I have seen and heard over the years I am not alone in having such an experience and to have been able to not only maintain, but continuously improve, that initial standard speaks volumes for the man and his commitment, Bob having had to step back some years ago as a result of work priorities. As the years went on I got to know Ronnie extremely well and in recent years we often travelled together to events in Europe. As well as having the privilege of meeting some of the many wonderful friends in various countries he had made on his travels, this has given me an insight into how he worked.
The original idea for Cally, as it’s affectionately known, arose from Ronnie and Bob’s attendance, not at a single workshop in Italy or somewhere, but from Serge Dreyer’s annual Rencontres Jasnieres gathering at Marcon in France. The first Caledonia was in a glorified hut in the highlands and the second in a castle in Argyll! Improvements already! However, having settled on the more accessible and comfortable base in Stirling Yoonie Ronnie and Bob focused on bringing to Scotland instructors of a high standard.
It was always important to Ronnie that the quality of the teachers was high. Equally important was their ability to fit into the ethos of Caledonia: to be accessible and sharing outwith their own workshops. As the years went on and his taiji family grew Ronnie succeeded in introducing new highly-skilled teachers to taiji players in Europe. Ronnie was keenly aware that there was something special about his event. Klaus Engelaender, a regular participant in many European events for many years, agreed and, when asked what it was, he replied “You care”. This is very true and is due to Ronnie having created this caring atmosphere through his meticulous attention to detail: from his choice of teachers to his attentive Cally team who strive to make people feel welcome.
Ronnie was never standing still, always seeking to improve. When travelling we would discuss the events we had just attended to identify any ideas that might benefit Cally. Ronnie’s flight time was equally divided between this, editing photos and videos he had taken during the event and, with his outgoing personality, speaking to the passenger in the seat next to him. Especially if this happened to be an attractive female. We would often land with him having spoken more to that person than me and knowing their background, where they were going and why. That was Ronnie.
For Ronnie the peak of Tai Chi Caledonia was last year’s 20th anniversary event with its Saturday night gala. His idea was to combine Scottish and Chinese culture in illustrating the progression of taiji and internal arts: from warmups through to applications and involving all styles with participants of the highest calibre. Going by the feedback and the participants involved he achieved this spectacularly. Perhaps even more significant than the success of the evening was the goodwill exhibited by many of these participants from various parts of Europe, who were happy to give of their time to support both the event and Ronnie (not necessarily in that order!). Also very telling was the financial backing received from ordinary taiji players and some unexpected sources who knew what Tai Chi Caledonia was all about. Disappointingly (though this word doesn’t quite cut it, it will have to do) from these people’s perspective, as well as all involved, no such support was forthcoming from the most obvious source.
Ronnie always sought to promote taiji and qigong as widely as possible. In doing so he recognised that most practitioners do not involve themselves in competition. Consequently, the successful promotion and support for these arts as a whole, rather than just one, albeit important, aspect of them, was required. It concerned him greatly that this was ignored in certain quarters. He saw it as imperative for the future of the art that all players should be afforded equal support and opportunity by their representative body.
Through all these years one constant subject in discourse with Ronnie was his son, Paul. The Boy. I received regular updates on his latest achievement or stupid idea with equal enthusiasm! This culminated a couple of years ago in The Road Trip To Jasnieres when Ronnie and I shared the driving and Paul tried to get shotgun before whichever driver was off duty. We all stayed in one of the mobile homes on the campsite. Paul did some growing up that week, coping very well with Ronnie’s idea that the couple in the home opposite probably thought we were a gay couple with our surrogate son. He even joined in, complaining to his dad and his “other dad” that, amongst other things, he was getting bullied at school because he had two dads and no mum! As well as Jasnieres, Paul attended the last three Callies and it is evident that he has continued to grow as a person and why his dad (his real one) was so proud of him. It is just so sad that Ronnie’s wish to at least see Paul become eighteen did not come true. Mind you, knowing Ronnie, that was probably just so he could get The Boy to buy him a drink to celebrate.
Much has been written elsewhere about what Ronnie has contributed to international taiji, both through his direct involvement and in bringing other teachers to a wider audience. From this it is clear that his absence will leave a big hole in the European taiji community.
I think we all will have our own special memory of Ronnie. I know I have a number, but I’m sure many will be of him standing before a crowd of us, crumpled Rohan trousers often seeming just about half an inch too long, making one of his famous announcements. I was very proud when he introduced me at last year’s Cally as his “very good friend”. He was certainly mine and his absence leaves a big hole in my life.
Ronnie and I have been crossing paths all over Europe since the late nineties . He has been one of my joys that come with family meetings, be it at the occasion of a forum, of a competition or of any taichi/qigong gathering. At all of those meetings Ronnie was always full of ideas and intiatives feeding into the European Taichi scene. His total committment to the art and the way he expressed it through the careful editing of the Tai Chi magazine and the fabulous organisation of Tai Chi Caledonia as well as his
very important input in the TCFE make him a key figure in the European Tai Chi and Qigong circle. I only have one regret with regards to this, and that is the fact that we do not have an extensive interview with Ronnie to add to all the important interviews he did with contemporary Tai Chi celebrities! Because his rightful place is right up there with the stars of the Tai Chi / Qigong community.
Besides the tremendous work he did for the art he also impressed me again and again with his very strong character and the way he just was himself at all times. Ronnie was always Ronnie – no playing phony games. He was true to himself in his fights as well as in his love – he dedicated to each a proper time. I was one of his fighting partners on more than one occasion and everytime we found our way back to our underlying loving friendship in a short time. His heart was such that he could easy turn to positive thinking when things went the wrong way.
I’ll miss his swearing as much as his jokes – sometimes those two things were interchangeable in Ronnies words.
I am so happy to know that his last years have been rewarding to Ronnie and compensating his dedicated work and also his spiritual practice. Many of his dreamshave come through – even such trivial ones as his fancy TAO mobile in the form of a Mercedes, the success of an unforgettable celebration of 20 years Tai Chi Caledonia, his election to the position of Chairman in the TCFE.
In the last few days of his life I had a visit at the hospital with a very tired Ronnie, aware of his terminal condition and still: he was himself with a joke, with a smile on the photos we took together but also with a very transparent tenderness. It is that tenderness of his that touched me deeply.
Thank you, Ronnie, for your friendship.
When I visited Ronnie in January 2016, I felt that I would never meet him again in this body. To say goodbye is one thing, the goodbye forever another.
When leaving the hospital feelings arise like being lonely, letting go, to let it be, but also thoughts about dying, death and what happens afterwards. All the material things suddenly fade in the face of death. The present moment is big, the veil to the other side transparent. Love remains … and memories.
I met Ronnie in August 2011 at North Sea Taichi Festival. From this time on he was a very good friend of mine. We both love Qigong and Taiji Quan, so there was always something to speak about. His „Scottish character“, to say things forthright and straight forward was not always easy to handle. He got very bothered about unjust and unbalanced situations which led to many discussions between us.
In his circle of friends, we often laughed about his habit of forgetting important things everywhere. On one of his travels he forgot his passport on the train, he forgot his laptop on the plane, leaving his camera on the shore of a mountain lake … and then he laughed at himself.
I remember the 20th Tai Chi Caledonia in summer 2015. For this organization he gave everything. It was a fantastic festival – unforgettable. That it was his last, makes it even more memorable. In the same year he was also elected as Chairman of the TCFE, and began with enthusiasm and idealism to fill this position.
The announcement of his illness reached me before Christmas 2015. Ronnie is gone his last way very upright – with a Scottish braveheart. May he be free.
In silent remembrance.
If it weren’t for John Johnstone, Ronnie and T’ai Chi who knows what I would be doing now. They boosted my confidence when it was rock-bottom and helped my life and career to take a completely different path. There are so many places I’ve been, things I’ve done and wonderful people I’ve met, both through T’ai Chi and the charities I’ve ended up working for over the past thirteen years that wouldn’t be in my life without Ronnie in particular.
Yes he could be grumpy, yes his propensity for changing arrangements at the last minute at T’ai Chi Caledonia drove me nuts sometimes but he was also funny, caring, generous, sensitive and, dare I say it really rather humble. When he was in hospital he expressed amazement at all the cards and good wishes he was receiving. I think he would be totally overwhelmed at the feelings of love and admiration for him that have been expressed by students and friends old and new over the last few weeks.
One of the things I admired most in Ronnie as a teacher was his enthusiasm for his students working with other people. I have heard of some instructors for whom it was “it’s my way or the highway”. That was so not Ronnie. T’ai Chi Caledonia is the perfect example of this. He was always looking to develop his own skills and actively encouraged us to do the same. He had an uncanny knack for identifying the most skilled and approachable practitioners from not only Europe, but beyond and so many T’ai Chi players have benefitted from him bringing them to Scotland over the last twenty years.
Ronnie’s energy and enthusiasm for T’ai Chi has been truly inspiring and the T’ai Chi community owes him a great debt for all that he has done over the past thirty plus years. His legacy will live on, however, not only in the form of his beloved son Paul and step-daughters Hannah and Nellie, but also in his students and their students and in the many deep friendships that have been made in his classes and at Caledonia.
Rest easy Ronnie and thank you for being you.
When I met Ronnie for the first time in the Rencontres Jasnières I didn’t realize he was a factory of energy walking on two legs. I’ve have met all kind of people by organizing the RJ but few have been so dedicated to make people of all walk of life get together in Europe around their common passion, taiji quan and qigong. I don’t think any federation has granted him a diploma certifying him as a “master”, a title which make so many teachers of taiji quan and qigong desperately panting. Anyway, he will not need this diploma where he is now but he got something much more precious, our recognition and affection.
Some of you probably know this joke: “Ever wonder why there’s a stairway to heaven but a highway to hell. More traffic on hell”. We’ll, I’m pretty sure that Ronnie is not bothered by traffic.
With Ronnie, the communication was not so easy, because as he told me once “sorry I forgot you don’t speak Scottish !”
Nevertheless, we share the same passions, so many good memories, so many Jasnières, Caledonia, Tai-Chi Tcho, competitions…
Despite his high level of practice, he never behaved like a proud master, but rather like joker child, and I appreciate the most his sense of humor (Scottish humor !).
Cornelia said he’s still making jokes. I’m not surprised !
I wish him farewell, and wait for us. I hope we’ll do some tuishou in paradise !
I met Ronnie in 2008, of course at a Tai Chi meeting. Since that dayand during the many years of our friendship and collaboration, I have come to learn that he was not only a great professional and lover of our discipline, but also and mostly a great person. And even if we are
all moved by his loss, we can find comfort in thinking that his strength and his passion will always remain in our memories and in our hearts, as well as in all his important and remarkable work.
I first met and got to know Ronnie at Rencontres Jasnieres, playing tai chi on the grass, singing along with Bob, and trading stories and jokes. His knowledge of tai chi and amazing networking skills for the tai chi community will be missed. Indeed, he will be missed in many ways because he developed meaningful relationships with people, and I feel luck to have stumbled into the web. But he has left much of himself and will remain with us in many ways.
Ronnie is and will always be one of the Three Scottish Treasures in my tai chi and qiqong landscape.
I had the honour to meet him many times in Jasnières and to be introduced to Qigong by him with the Wild Goose in Denmark during the European Tai Chi competion.
I remember how hard it was to understand Ronnie’s accent when I first met him but he was always prone to repeat with his great sense of humour, having the R rolling in his mouth. How many giggles we had in his joking company during the camps’ evenings!
His high experience in pushing hands and his graceful practice of qigong was so enjoyable. His last performance in Jasnières was just fantastic.
Last time I’ve seen Ronnie I discovered what a great cooker he was too. It was just before Chrismas 2014 in Glasgow, I could not imagine it was last time I would have seen him.
We’ll all miss you Mr Robinson. I feel blessed I could meet you in this life.
With gratitude and love.
A Tribute to Ronnie Robinson: a man who forged his own niche, and lived life.
Whenever he looked at me, I always felt like a rabbit in the headlights. Transfixed to the spot, the thoughts would race through my mind. “Am I standing properly? Are my shoulders down? Where is my weight? Am I looking in the right direction?”
Am I relaxed? Few students would answer ‘yes’ to the last question when this teacher of such stature, caught you in his gaze.
I had been a pupil of Ronnie Robinson’s for about a year before attending my first Tai Chi Caledonia. I joined a 45 minute class of novices run by Bob Lowey. To get an idea of everyone’s level, Bob asked us to begin by just doing a little bit of the form we were learning. At one point, he pulled me out in front of the class saying, “That’s good. Do that move again.” I obliged. “Who’s your teacher?” he asked. “Ronnie.” I squeaked.
“Oh, Christ! That explains it.” He said.
Ronnie had an inner spirituality that loved nature and the outdoors. His quick sharp mind was lucid, analytical, inventive and intuitive. A man of many eclectic interests from cooking to photography, technology, music and current affairs, his impressive knowledge and constant interest and appetite for continual learning, along with a wonderful, Aberdonian grown,
sense of humour in all things, made him good company, a vibrant conversationalist and an impassioned writer.
Of course, we all know of the huge achievements Ronnie’s advanced expertise, deep understanding and endless endeavours have made in the Tai Chi world. He was also a modest, highly respected teacher and, rather like Chen Man-Ching, taught Tai Chi as a Tao, a way of life, but in a realistic, modern, very practical and down to earth fashion. A consummate professional and good judge of character who did not suffer fools, he could be patient and understanding with plenty of amusing anecdotes. However, he did not lavish praise. If you didn’t hear from him you knew you were doing ok, because you certainly heard if you were not reproducing the form to the best of your current level of ability, with such phrases as “Well, it’s not entirely mince” when observing ones attempts. I am not sure that all his students understood this trait
intended as humour, but in my opinion, it is simply that he worked hard for his art, and expected the same of others, because the better it’s done the stronger the benefit. When praise was given, it felt rewarding because you knew you had earned it.
Ronnie was also an excellent father and step-dad, always loving and so proud of his son. Never happy if they were apart, and always spending as much time as possible with him. From the American film “It’s a Wonderful Life” (Ronnie’s Christmas Favourite) we learn that one life touches so many others. Never truer than with regard to Ronnie Robinson, who influenced, inspired and gave a new, healthier lease of life to a multitude of students, myself included.
The Tai Chi night will be long and dark without him, we must use our many happy memories to pull us through.