On Sunday, February 10, I had the good fortune of attending the Taiji Tournament that is always held as part of the annual Phoenix Chinese Week. This festival celebrates many aspects of Chinese culture, including history, food, art, opera performances, and- of course- martial arts. I have attended the tournament several times in the past as a spectator. As a newer disciple, I decided that it would be good for both myself and the promotion of Practical Method to finally participate.
The competition was divided into five general categories: women’s empty hand, women’s weapons, men’s empty hand, men’s weapons, and group forms. The competition is held in the library next to the park where the festival takes place, in a conference room with enough space for the the performance area in the middle, judges on one side, and spectators on the other. It was a fairly small and intimate event, with about a dozen competitors (half men, half women), two judges, and maybe 25 spectators.
Most of the competitors demonstrated some version of a Yang style form, so I was happy to introduce them to Practical Method. Originally I was only planned to show the sword form, but at the last minute I decided to register foras well. Most of the empty hand forms were Yang-style variations, and most of the weapon forms were sword forms (with a couple people doing a fan form and one person showing a staff form). There were two other students of Ping Wei (Jim and Karen) who performed as well. Everyone who participated did a good job at demonstrating their skills and how far they had come in their Taiji journey; some competitors were early in their training, and others were obviously quite advanced.
After all of the participants had completed their forms, the judges announced their scores and rankings. I was given first place in the men’s empty hand category, and tied for first place in the men’s weapon category. In addition to the my score, the judges also took a moment to give me special recognition on my performance. They were very impressed with how clear my form was and how much of a pleasure it was to watch. I was very flattered, but I knew that the real magic wasn’t in me as much as it was in Practical Method!
As I was leaving the library toover to the main stage in the park for the award ceremony, I had probably six or eight people come over to congratulate me and to ask about my style and teacher. I was glad to have the opportunity to promote Practical Method as many of them had not heard of it before. Based on the reaction that I received from everyone in the crowd, I can only hope that they will take the time to look further into this wonderful art.