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April, 2005, Vol. 05, Issue 04

AOBTA National Convention "Fires Up" San Francisco

By Debra Howard, AOBTA

Nearly 200 members and friends gathered "round the fire" for a "cracklin' good time" at the American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia (AOBTA®) National Convention at the Radisson Miyako Hotel in Japantown, San Francisco.

AOBTA represents Asian Bodywork Therapy (ABT) and Asian Bodywork Therapists (ABTs) and is the largest membership organization of Asian medicine practitioners in the U.S. The convention theme, "Healing with Fire: Love, Laughter, Heart," echoed throughout the Shen*-inspiring presentation, Jan 14-17, 2005. Many reported feeling the glow long after the party ended!

Pre-convention events included board and committee meetings, as well as an Item Writing Workshop presented by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Cherie Sohnen-Moe gave AOBTA Council of Schools and Programs (COSP) members many helpful hints in her course, "Does Anyone Know You're There?", and held another great class for ABTs titled, "Marketing From Your Heart."

The Welcome Breakfast and National Member Meeting were even more lively with the attendance of NCCAOM representatives, including new CEO Kory Ward-Cook. NCCAOM surprised AOBTA members with a donation in recognition of the support that AOBTA has had for them through the years. Other special guests included several board members of the National Qigong Association (NQA), including new President Michael DeMolina.

A selection of outstanding instructors from California to the United Kingdom helped bring the global ABT community together. Swami Beyondananda offered his particular brand of humor as keynote speaker; his alter ego, Steve Bhaerman, gave a class titled "The Art of Fun Shui: Comedy as a Healing Art" that had everyone grinning from ear to ear. Instructors from the U.K. were Carola Beresford-Cooke, author of Shiatsu Theory and Practice, and Suzanne Yates, author of Shiatsu for Midwives. Cooke offered awesome courses in "Shiatsu for Joints and Structure" and "Menopause: Gateway of Change," while Yates gave amazing courses in "The Uterus and the Extraordinary Vessels in Pregnancy" and "The Demystification of Pregnancy - Practical Techniques and Common Conditions."

Swami Beyondananda - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Keynote speaker Swami Beyondananda. Drs. Harriet Beinfeld, Efrem Korngold, Michael Reed Gach, Richard Gold, Roger Jahnke, Jerry Alan Johnson and DoAnn Kaneko, and Junji Mitzutani, Tina Sohn and Iona Marsaa Teeguarden rounded out the presenter list. Each taught from their hearts and added their own incredible and special touch to the convention.

Pamela Ferguson spearheaded the wonderful CI (Certified Instructor) Sandbox, a chance for experienced instructors to share some of their helpful hints with colleagues. Pam and I, along with Barbra Esher, John f. [sic] Johnston, Gayl Hubatch, Deborah Valentine Smith and Jan Ste Germaine presented 10 minutes each to share various innovations we use in our classes and programs. This, followed by a lively question and answer session, made for a great "sandbox" experience.

Banquet attendees were treated to a special tai chi demonstration by Roger Jahnke, and the national awards presentations, which included a birthday celebration honoring Toshiko Phipps, longtime AOBTA supporter and honorary board member, who had the foresight to turn 85 at just the right time. The President's Award went to Barbra Esher for her many years of outstanding service to AOBTA and the ABT profession. She gave another rousing post-convention workshop of her famous exam review for those preparing to take the NCCAOM ABT Exam.

Attendees were wowed by the entire event. You could start with qigong in the morning, have two amazing classes throughout the day, shop a bit in the exhibit hall, eat incredible food, hang out with some awesome folks, get your books signed, and wind it all up with dinner and dancing with great friends.

The next AOBTA convention will be held late summer 2006, so start planning now!

*Shen, from Chinese Medicine, is similar to the American ideas of consciousness and self-awareness, and is often translated as "spirit." The Heart, which is related to the Shen, laughter, and love, is related to the Fire Phase, the convention's theme.


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