November, 1996. Founding staff and members of the NQA, signing the Articles of Incorporation (from L to R): Hongfei Lin, Jessie Dammann, Russell DesMarais, Roger Jahnke, James MacRitchie,Mark Johnson, Damaris Jarboux, Richard Leirer, Berkley Freeman (legal counsel), Gunther Weil.
Liverpool, England, UK
The original idea for the Association came out of discussions in 1991 with a wide range of practitioners and teachers.
I was then living in Boulder, Colorado, and doing research for a ‘Useful Addresses’ section in my first book, ‘Chi Kung – Cultivating Personal Energy’. With my partner and wife at that time, Damaris Jarboux, we had created the Body-Energy Center - she practiced Chi Kung Healing at The Center Place, and I ran the Acupuncture Center of Boulder, and we jointly ran The Qigong School.
In 1993, when the book was published, we visited China with a group for a 3 week trip, including a qigong conference by The World Academic Society for Medical Qigong. I met Roger Jahnke and Russell DesMarais, who were also with the group. We thought it would be a good idea to create an American organization, and shook hands on it.
Back in the US, following the publication of my book, I was inundated with inquiries from people all over the country wanting to know ‘the nearest Chi Kung Master to me’ – there was a clear need to connect the teachers with the students, and the practitioners with the patients.
Over the next 1 1/2 years, as a separate but related project, I compiled and published the International Chi Kung/Qigong Directory, which included over 60 practitioners and centers in the US that I had been in contact with – and made this available free to the public. This also provided a means for the teachers to get to know about each other, and be connected. All in the days before the Internet really got going. But we had postage stamps and Fax!
In ‘95 and ‘96 I worked with Berkley Freeman, now NQA Legal Counsel, and drafted the required Incorporation Document, and created a set of Draft Bylaws to legally register the organization. It was based upon a northern England, blue collar, grass-roots, trade union – everyone welcome, and equal, and able to participate.
In November ‘96 I produced a weekend conference in Boulder, announced to our own students and the local Colorado community, and invited a number of teachers and practitioners. Eight teachers showed up – Damaris Jarboux, Gunther Weil, Roger Jahnke, Mark Johnson, Russell DesMarais, Richard Leirer, Jesse Dammann, Hong Fei Lin… with myself that made 9. It was well attended, starting on the Friday night and Saturday in the Masonic Lodge, and continuing on the Sunday at Boulder Community Hospital – symbolically intentional.
On the Saturday night we gathered in Berkley’s Law Office and all signed the legal document as an Interim Board. See accompanying picture.
Three others – Shantika Lammanno, Thompson Chen and Ellen Raskin later signed the document via mail, for a total of 12 Incorporators and Founding Board Members.
I was elected President, Gunther Weil Chairperson, and Russell DesMarais Secretary.
On the next Monday, Jesse filed the documents with the Colorado Secretary of State. The organization came into existence.
The next year’s conference, in Minneapolis MN, was produced by Russell, and nationally announced. Everyone told everyone else that they knew. People came from all over the country. It was a major gathering.
At that conference the Interim Board of Directors stepped down, in a demonstration of democracy, and the membership voted for a new Board.
The Chi Ball was rolling... and still is, towards its 25th Anniversary, manifesting its Tao.