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13 Feb 2011
"Today's Taijiquan," Yang Jun said in a recent interview, "is a multi-purpose exercise. It is both a martial art and a health exercise. It also allows practitioners to join a social community." Yang, who became the latest Yang Family successor in 2009, now lives and teaches out of his school in Redmond, Washington. He also maintains a busy schedule of teaching around the world as he builds a network of Yang Chengfu Tai Chi Chuan Centers and certified teachers.

Many students never see this social community beyond their class, although even within a class, social groups strike up spontaneously. This weekend we have a chance to see more of that community, at the Lone Star Chinese Martial Arts Tournament/Houston on Saturday. In April we will have another chance with World Tai Chi and Qigong Day. Both are excellent opportunities to see more of the Tai Chi community and learn more about your art, so I encourage students to attend and participate, or at least observe.

There are four types of events of interest to Tai Chi practitioners. In the Tai Chi portions of the tournament, a forms competition will be divided into groups by style and by years of experience. Those events are scored by judges, with the average determining the winner.

The pushing hands events take two approaches: fixed step and moving step. In fixed step, competitors must basically stay in one place, while in moving step, they may move around within a designated ring. In both events points are awarded to competitors who cause their opponents to lost balance and become uprooted - staggering or falling, sometimes vigorously. These events are divided by weight, age, and years of experience.

There are also events for Tai Chi weapons - most frequently straight sword (jian), saber, spear, and fan. These are handled like the empty hand form events.

At some point every serious student of Tai Chi should participate in a few of these events. There is no point in compulsively signing up for every event that comes along, but two or three years of competition is an excellent way to hone your skills. Since one of the most difficult skills is the ability to relax in the face of adversity, a competition is a safe and effective way to work on this skill.

But you can learn a lot by just attending and watching. The competition will be throughout the day, with the master's demo at 7:30 pm, when I will perform along with many local and nationally recognized masters.

The schedule, in brief, is:
  • 8:00 am - Registration Begins
  • 9:30 - Opening ceremony
  • 10:00 - Competition begins
  • 7:30 pm - Masters Demo


To learn more about the exact schedule and location of the event, at the Crown Reliant Hotel near Reliant Center by the Astrodome, go to www.KungFuChampionship.com/Houston. If you attend, drop by my table for my book, Tai Chi In Your Life.


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