First tai chi tournament
It was a long week. Trying to close partnerships and/or sales at the end of the year is work I would wish on no friend and only on a few enemies (you know who you are). Add a little last minute Christmas shopping, and you got the makings of a world class cranial migraine nee stoke.
What better way to put it all behind you that with a nice little martial arts tournament.
As I’ve noted here before, I studied Karate (Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan) for five years, earning my Ee Dan (2nd degree). I would really like to do the athletic Karate or Wushu style, but there are several reasons I do not:
- the knee swells;
- ain’t enough hours in the day;
- I wanted to really study taichi and I found an excellent Sifu;
Sifu scheduled our school tournament today, 5pm on a Friday, the only time when most folks wouldn’t be busy or out of town. It was shorter than the tourneys I am used to (only about two and a half hours), but I enjoyed it and learned some good things (which is one of the main things life is all about), and snapped to some concepts I that seem obvious after the fact:
- there are a lot more Wushu students than their are Taichi students;
- when outnumbered, one spends a lot more time watching than doing;
- I used to be able to sit back straight in a nice cross-legged Karate position for as long as I needed to; no longer, brother; either I am out of practice, or still not as limber, or I was used to getting up and getting more physical in Karate class;
- with Karate (or Wushu), if you are tight (either from sitting or from nerves), it does not take very many punches or kicks to get the sweat and blood flowing before the zone kicks in; with taichi (and I should have recognized this) the practitioner has to be in control from start to finish. We started with our 5 walking sword exercises which I enjoy and practice; instead of just focus and control of your body, you have to extend that control through your arm, wrist and hand to the entire sword. Like taichi, the sword exercises should be relaxed, controlled and focused; but my first two felt tight and mechanical, either from the prolonged sitting or from what little nerves I can still feel (long story/pun, hydrothermia, you get the pic). I make it a point to try and do as much of the exercises on one leg, no dragging or stutter stepping, as I move slowly to the next stance, in hopes that this will not only make the form(s) look smoother, but also increase my leg strength to avoid further knee injuries. But, again, the first one (which is the one we have worked on the longest) and part of the second one were as wooden as a nutcracker. I finally realized what I was doing, started breathing deep and slowing down even more to where I could relax and get control back. After that, the sword exercises went well.
- With the sword exercises ingrained, I’d like to tackle one of the full taichi sword forms/katas that Sifu teaches…but, of course, that is entirely up to him.
- Sifu is a highly regarded instructor, and during the tourney he had several of his advanced students demonstrate staff, spear, sword, taichi open hand and taichi fan forms. It was apparent how his team win so many tournaments, here and abroad.
The only other task for us were some walking exercises based on the two main passages of Yang 24. Sifu has taught me the entire form, yet it still needs polish. I am looking forward to working on that, the Chen style form we have started and more taichi sword in the new year. There will be other tournaments ahead, larger than this school tournament (potentially larger that the national Karate tournaments I attended), but it was great to get this one under my belt (hey! no pun intended! no belts in taichi.)