2016 Wushu, Tai Chi & Qigong (WTQA) Festival
On 28 August 2016, the Sports Centre of Monash University (Clayton Campus) became a site of rare beauty, talent and skill. The opening ceremony of the 18th Wushu, Tai Chi & Qigong Australia (WTQA) Festival and Competition was symbolically announced by a lion roar of a traditional Lion Dance, accompanied by clashing cymbals and drums, revealing the magic of colourful costumes and the agility of Hung Gar martial artists. The lion symbolically blessed the festival and its participants with its vigorous jumps and moves, bringing courage, power and good luck to all.
Following the welcoming speeches of Chief Judge, Master Tong Low, and other officials, the competition commenced on three arenas for Wushu, Tai Chi and Qigong individual and group events. Within minutes, the sports stadium turned into a busy and vibrant yet well-organised space for displaying diverse Chinese martial arts styles and forms, from traditional to standardised competition routines that delighted their spectators. They had a unique opportunity to see the competitors at their best.
In Wushu Arena 1 they could enjoy brisk weapon and dual events such as Chang Quan and Nanquan, sabre and cudgel forms or traditional barehands and short weapons, like Jue Quan and Baji or Straight Sword and many others. If they strolled to Arena 2, they could watch the performers compete in graceful Duan Wei Yang style, Beijing 24 and 42 or traditional short weapons like Yang Fan 18 and 36, Chen 49 Sword, Mulan Fan (double) and Yang Flute, not to forget barehands such as Wudang 28, Chen 56, Wu or Hao, Yin Water form, to mention a few. Finally, in Arena 3 the spectators could take pleasure in the gentle charm and elegance of Health Qigong routines, such as Ba Duan Jin, Yi Jin Jing, Wu Qin Xi or Tai Chi forms like Wu Style Push Hands, Tai Chi for Energy, Wudang Bamboo, 32 Sword and many more.
Our College was well represented by a suite of enthusiastic volunteers, competitors, judges, a floor crew member and our Senior Master Chin Min Lian. Some of our students and instructors joined in to support the Celestial team with a friendly smile and a warm hug, always appreciated to conquer that stage fright. Our judges included four Senior Instructors, Margaret Rogers (Hawthorn & Ashburton), Wally Wilkinson (Brighton), Margie Brett (Moonee Ponds) and Snezana Dabic (Box Hill). And the competitors were Senior Instructor Suzette Hosken (Eltham & Camberwell), Instructor Rita Sullivan (Werribee) and the College student Clement Gilbert (Preston).
Visitors and guests, arriving throughout the day, could feel the friendly buzz and pleasant atmosphere. They were warmly greeted at the entrance by our very own Zenaida Calderon (Instructor in Keilor & South Yarra), WTQA Treasurer, and other floor crew who looked after the performers, judges, competitors and an occasional curious Monash student.
Guest performances were a welcome break in a busy schedule that dazzled the spectators with a magnificent array of Wushu and Tai Chi skills of highly accomplished Masters, followed by the thundering beat of Hung Gar Troupe drums. Our Master Chin Min’s 42 Sword routine stood out for its expressiveness and flair. He congratulated our team, the judges for their contribution, “This shows the esteem WTQA give to the four of you as individuals and to the College” and the competitors, Suzette and Rita in particular, for their achievement – Suzette winning three gold medals and Rita gold and silver medals, “So proud of both of you to be courageous to take the challenge to compete and to place yourselves to be judged! That is the spirit!” Clement Gilbert also won a gold medal. Master Chin Min “commended the work and contribution of Zenaida in her tireless work for WTQA” and “serving the Tai Chi community well”.
Some of our supporters and participants happily voiced their impressions and admiration, like Judith Michael, our Trainee Instructor (Camberwell) and last year’s participant who found 2016 Competition more relaxing and better organised as there was a “warm-up room provided for the participants, making the action hall quieter” so she was “able to take in the atmosphere, the colours, and feel both delight and empathy for the competitors; the shaking fan, the trembling of silk costumes sometimes betraying nervousness” that she remembered very well. Judith admired those “Zen-like exponents who had clearly conquered the performance butterflies, feet totally sure, perfectly placed, energy coiling through body movements, concentration light yet focused”, but her “greatest inspiration came from (will always come from) the attitude of the participants and spectators. No shouts of triumph, no punching the air, but a quiet acceptance of who came first and who didn't. I saw pleasure and pride at an achievement, and respect for those who had tried their best.”
Our competitor Rita Sullivan also commented on the festival as being “a real challenge to increase my training and improve my tai chi skills”. She registered for four events and felt her rewards were not only the medals, “but the friendships formed with other college students, the support shown by Werribee Celestial and an appreciation for the WTQAs commitment to enhance the love of Wushu, Tai Chi and Qigong in Australia. It was a long day, but so worthwhile and hopefully more Celestial students will be inspired to take part in the future.”
A keen supporter of the team, our Senior Instructor John Sindoni (Werribee) “had a great day, three arenas kept my head turning. Great performances by Chin Min and so many of you judging and our two champions displaying their skills”, our masters “should be proud”!
On behalf of the WTQA Committee, Zenaida extended “heartfelt thanks to Snr Master Chin Min for his graceful performance, Snezana, who represented all the judges in reading the Judge’s Pledge, Margie Brett, Margaret Rogers and Wally Wilkinson” – judges and Senior Instructors who were “concentrating so hard whilst enduring cold environment”. Special congratulations went to Suzette and Rita for representing the Celestial Tai Chi College and making us all proud.
It felt rewarding to be appreciated by Master Tong Low who praised our team for its professionalism and commitment, in particular both our Masters and the competitors, “the athletes who participated with excellent skills”, winning medals, Suzette and Rita, and Snr Master Chin Min as “an excellent coach indeed”. He invited us all to join them again in the future.
As for the judges, we all felt honoured to be invited. In the words of Margie Brett, we “especially enjoyed the opportunity to be involved in the competition and to see the outstanding performances that we were treated to.” Wally Wilkinson noted how the Celestial team was known for being “reliable, responsible and respectful”. No doubt, keen concentration and observation further enhanced our own tai chi skills, our ability to analyse movements with precision, understand Chinese martial arts more in-depth and to teach – also, to judge impartially. Our learning continues.
Finally, as Judith Michael says, “Victors would not be victors if not for the efforts of every single competitor” or every single participant, I would like to add, since we all become winners when we put together our skills and talents, knowledge and good will, in an endeavour to create an event of beauty and joy like this Festival.
Snezana Dabic, Senior Instructor