LOTUS PEACE ARTS WORKSHOPS with Shinshii Janet Aalfs
By arrangement at VWMA and at any location. Please inquire.

Love to Move: For movers of all kinds, youth and adult. Using basic forms and principles of Tai Chi, Qigong, Shuri-ryu, Arnis, and improvisation techniques, this workshop will assist participants in finding the next level of balance, flexibility, creativity, enjoyment, and ease.

Poetry & Curiosity: In this workshop, age 18+, no particular experience required, we'll write and share poetry aloud, and experience brief and simple moving meditations that are gestural poems. Fan Chun, a poet in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) said: “For writing a poem, there are 4 steps: Qi the introduction  direct; Cheng the elucidation tender; Zhuan the transaction changeable; and He the summary meaningful." In moving meditation, such as Tai Chi and Qigong, we practice integrating the same elements. These steps are not linear, but rather spiral throughout the process of making a poem, a dance, or any work of art.​

For women & girls  (Introductory and all levels)

Mon. 6-7:15pm (age 16+)   Instructor: Sensei Regina Kaufman
Tues. 5-6pm (age 6-9+)   Instructors: Sensei Sally Johnson Van Wright & Sensei Deb Friedman
Wed. 4:30-5:30pm (age 10-15+)   Instructor: Shinshii Janet Aalfs
Thurs. 6:30-7:30pm (age 9+)   Instructors: Sensei Sally Johnson Van Wright & Sensei Pam Westgate

Taken individually or in combination, these classes provide short-term and ongoing practice for women and girls in the basic principles, forms, and techniques of Shuri-ryu Okinawan Karate and everyday self-protecton skills. The coordinated curriculum (including material offered by guest instructors) offers both consistency in structure and variety in approach for all types of learning. From traditional roots to current methods, Shuri-ryu continues to be developed through the work of many women teachers and leaders. This art emphasizes movement from the hips, and its forms are designed to celebrate and protect all life. Classes incorporate Liangong (Chinese healing and strengthening exercises) as part of warmups and stretching. Instruction at every level involves working in ways that are fun and sustainable through each stage of life - from younger to elder! It's never too late to begin!

All classes are held at the Heron's Bridge dojo at

1 Cottage Street, Easthampton unless otherwise specified.

Workshops for children age 6+ and families, by arrangement at VWMA and at any location.

Please inquire.  Instructor: Shinshii Janet Aalfs

Designed to be fun, to build confidence, to encourage empathy, and to support and promote self-protection/ self-care skills and strategies. Following the movements of animals, the elements, imagination, and creativity of all kinds, we create a space in which everyone can excel in her/his own special ways. Karate and self-protection skills help to develop and strengthen social-emotional-physical competency in areas such as limit-setting and personal boundaries, calming down, speaking up, trusting your feelings and instincts, being an effective ally, dealing with a safety emergency, setting a positive example for others, etc.

All classes are at the Heron's Bridge dojo at

1 Cottage Street, Easthampton unless otherwise specified.

Shuri-ryu Okinawan Karate: "Beautiful & Graceful" Open-Hand Arts

Originates in methods developed to celebrate life, to honor the ancestors, and to focus energy in healthy ways. The name of this style means "beautiful and graceful." Women called Noro have been the civic and spiritual leaders in the Ryukyu Islands for centuries.

Modern Arnis: Filipino Stick-Rhythm Arts

A system from the Philippines, uses techniques practiced with rattan canes and empty hands. Rhythmic, dynamic, and fluid movements are based on the figure-8 symbol of infinity.

Tai chi/ Qigong/ Liangong/ Poetry

Forms are practiced for healing, strengthening, flexibility, balance, and flow. Awareness of breathing, as in all of the martial arts, deepens and expands the connections to one's center of energy.

Empowerment and Self-Protection Skills

Focus on the practical everyday applications of martial arts principles and exercises. The "Five Fingers" of Self-Protection, Self-Care, Peace, and Transformation include:

1. Breath, Presence, Awareness, Intuition
2. Voice, Expression, Communication
3. Escape, Aspiration, Renewal
4. Safety Emergency Techniques, Commitment, Right Action, Working for Good
5. Telling Someone You Trust, Empathy, Community Connections

VWMA and LOTUS PEACE ARTS programs are held at our One Cottage St. Studio #319 and by arrangement for women, men, and children at other community organizations including schools, clubs, social service agencies, health centers, etc. Sessions are designed to be fun, empowering, encouraging and safe.


Tues. 5:00-6:00pm: Power Girls 1, age 6-9+ (introductory and all levels) 
Wed. 4:30-5:30pm: Power Girls 2, age 10-15+ (introductory and all levels)
Teaching Team:  Sally Johnson Van Wright, Janet Aalfs, Deb Friedman

These movement arts classes (short-term and ongoing) focus on what is fun, empowering, and creatively inspiring for girls and teens. In all aspects of the curriculum, students are encouraged to discover and share more about their own and others' special gifts and strengths. Age-appropriate exercises, games, movement meditation, group/ partner/ individual activities, special performances, and community service events all support girls and teens in making healthy everyday choices and connections. The program offers ongoing opportunities for students of all abilities and learning styles to deepen and expand confidence, self-esteem, and social justice awareness. Self-protection skills strengthen mind-heart-body-voice integration in areas such as limit-setting and personal boundaries, calming down, being an effective ally, dealing with a safety emergency, etc. Certified, award-winning teachers have many years of experience working with youth locally, nationally and internationally.

MODERN ARNIS (introductory and all levels)

Wed. 4:30-5:30pm, Power Girls 2, age 10-15+
Instructor: Shinshii Janet Aalfs 

Thurs. 5:30-6:30pm, for women & girls, age 9+  
Instructor: Gura Sally Johnson Van Wright 
with Gura Meg Brown and Gura Deb Friedman

Sat. 10:15-11:15am, for youth & adults (weekly sign-up required)
Instructor: Shinshii Janet Aalfs

for adults and youth (introductory and all levels)

Instruction includes Liangong, Wild Goose Qigong, Wu Style Tai Chi, Arnis Filipino Stick Arts,
Okinawan Karate, everyday self-protection applications, interpretive movement, and poetry

Classes with Shinshii Janet Aalfs:

Mon. noon-1:30pm, Tai Chi & Qigong, YMCA, Northampton
Mon. 6:00-7:00pm, Tai Chi & Qigong for Healing & Pain Relief, Valley Medical Group, Easthampton
Tues. 6:30-8pm, LGBTQ+ & Women's Empowerment Self-Protection (ESP), Oct. 2 & 23, Nov. 6 & 20 at VWMA, Easthampton.
Wed. 6:00-7:00pm, Wild Goose Qigong, VWMA, Easthampton.
Thurs. 6:00-7:00pm, Tai Chi & Qigong for Healing & Pain Relief, Valley Medical Group, Amherst
Sat. 9:00-10:15am, Wu Style Tai Chi, VWMA, Easthampton.
Sat. 10:15-11:15am, Modern Arnis (weekly sign-up required), VWMA, Easthampton.
Karate Peacemakers for children and families, workshops by arrangement at any venue.

Classes with Sifu Makani Freitas:
Tues. 3:15-4:15pm, Qigong & Tai Chi, Hampshire Athletic Club (HAC), Amherst.
Wed. 11:30am-12:30pm, Qigong, YMCA Northampton.
Thurs. 7:00-8:00pm, Liangong, HAC.
Fri. 6:00-7:00am, Liangong, Northampton Athletic Club (NAC).
Sun. 9:00-10:00am, Qigong & Tai Chi, NAC.