Gerda ‘Pytt’ Geddes
Catherine Robinson learnt T’ai Chi in Pytt Geddes’s classes at The Place (the studios of the London School of Contemporary Dance) in the early seventies. She remained in close contact with Pytt until her death in March 2006; they would frequently discuss and debate many aspects of the practice, the meaning and the symbolism of the T’ai Chi, and over thirty years Pytt made many guest appearances at Catherine’s courses and workshops.
Before she came across the T’ai Chi Pytt had originally trained as a dancer and as a psychotherapist, and as a teacher she was renowned for her clarity and her wisdom. For her, the essence of the T’ai Chi was to be found in its meditative and balancing qualities; she was always ready to acknowledge its roots in the martial arts but was not personally drawn to exploring the martial aspect. Her daughter Harriet said: “the guiding principle of her life was that everyone should find their own creative potential.” Pytt described what she saw in T’ai Chi as ‘body and mind in harmony’, opening channels and pathways to encourage the flow of energy. Many of the teachers who trained with her over the years have maintained a similar approach, and while some have gone on to study more combative or defensive forms with other masters, many more (including Catherine and Gudrun) are still teaching essentially the same form they learnt from Pytt.
Pytt Geddes’s legacy can be found in many a T’ai Chi class in England and Scotland, in four or five states in the USA, in Holland and Austria and Sweden and several other parts of the world. Nowhere will it be felt more strongly than at our annual Summer T’ai Chi Holidays, where many of the participants will remember her with warmth and affection, and those who never met her will know her through her reputation and her writing.
Pytt is author of Looking for the Golden Needle.