Imagine, dozens of people running around in yellowish-grey WTQA jackets, shimmering silk costumes or simply rugged up, the clatter and rattle of swords, spears and other weapons, a Wushu mat being laid out, competitors checking out the three arenas, curious visitors gushing in, a buzzing mix of voices and languages, gentle Qigong music in the background, the smell of morning coffee and, suddenly, silence! A procession of dignitaries, judges, volunteers, competitors and guests abruptly stop, stand or sit in perfect stillness. The seeming chaos dispersed, the hall turned into a place of harmony.
And so, the 2018 WTQA Festival commences, celebrating its 20th anniversary with the new President, our very own Grand Master Eng Chor, opening the Festival games by warmly welcoming special overseas guests and sponsors, a host of volunteers, a thrilled audience and above all, devoted and talented competitors.
The opening ceremony is solemnly marked by Australian and Chinese national anthems, reading of the Judges’ Pledge, and then followed by a breathtaking carnival of sound, colour and movement. Thundering Chinese drums echo through our bodies, the shades of red, green, gold, and pink, flash in the air as Hung Gar Yau Shu Martial Artists leap, twist and loop around us in magnificent Lion Dance and Dragon Dance moves.
All that to honour the auspicious occasion and bring good luck and power to all participants. A dazzling fiesta to utter delight of the youngest spectators, some of whom feared the dragon was real, such was its might!
The competition part of the Festival was organized around the three Arenas for Qigong, Tai Chi and Wushu where the audience had a unique opportunity to enjoy diverse Chinese martial arts styles and forms, from traditional to standardised routines and to see the competitors at their best.
The Celestial was well represented by four dedicated competitors, Suzette Hosken (Eltham & Camberwell), Judith Michael (Doncaster East & Camberwell), Catriona Wells (Eltham & Camberwell) and Christina Chan (Doncaster East), all of them Tai Chi teachers at our college, led by the Senior Instructor Suzette who enthusiastically organised their team training for the Festival. They competed individually across Tai Chi and Qigong Arenas, displaying amazing skills and courage to perform: Beijing 24 Taijiquan, 42 Competition Taiqiquan, Yang Celestial Form, 32 Taijijian Sword routine, Ba Duan Jin Qigong. It was a real pleasure to watch them and admire their commitment and performance spirit. They have won scores of medals and rounds of applause, making us all proud, but to them the refined learning process, devotion to the art of Tai Chi and Qigong, forging new friendships and sharing their skills would be equally important.
One of the Celestial performers stands out: Judith Michael, the oldest competitor in our Team, 78 years young and competing for the first time as an individual! What an impressive and inspiring achievement – Bravo, Judith!
Qigong Arena offered the spectators a gentle charm and elegance of Health Qigong routines, such as Ba Duan Jin, Yi Jin Jing, Wu Qin Xi, Ziran Wuxing and Taoist Ba Duan Jin. The effortlessness of the competitors performing most beautiful Qigong sets whilst applying superbly controlled breathing techniques and a smooth flow was truly inspirational.
In Tai Chi Arena the audience could enjoy watching the performers from many different martial arts schools compete in a variety of stunning Contemporary and Traditional Taijiquan forms and Weapons. From graceful Yang Celestial Style, Beijing 24 and 42, Sun Form, Wu 32, Yang 40 or traditional short weapons like Yang Fan 18 and 36, Mulan Fan, Chen Fan to Dong Yue-Short Staff and Tai Chi Blade, not to forget extraordinary routines of Wudang 28, Wudang Sanfeng 18, Chen Double Broadsword and Yang Spear, to mention a few. The beauty, style and talent of the competitors and their performances in Tai Chi Arena were an absolute highlight for me.
Wushu Arena was a sight of brisk traditional Wushu forms, namely, Shaolin, Liuhe Qing Long Quan, Wing Chun, Siu Lim Tao, Pai Lum Baiequan and vigorous weapon routines such as Kung Fu Fan, Xing Yi Dao, and others. The highly skilled competitors attracted a lot of younger audience, amazed at their spectacular artistry and energy and contemplating which martial arts school to join one day.
The morning competition sessions concluded with medal and certificate presentations and an invitation to everybody at the Festival, audience included, to join a group demonstration of Beijing 24 Form. In a special way, that was a triumph of unity and martial arts community.
The afternoon part of the Festival Program was yet another highlight. It commenced with a mesmerising demonstration of different Tai Chi and Qigong styles by several prominent Masters in their traditional silk uniforms. Namely, Master Sam Au who performed Chen Style Taijiquan 32 Form; Master Su Rule performed Fu Chen Feng Form; Wushu Master Tyler Rowe performed Trinity of ‘Nei Jia Quan’ – Internal Style Quan. But, an extra special treat was the Celestial’s very own Senior Master Chin Min Lian who beautifully performed an incredibly delicate but complex 12 Steps Daoyin Health Qigong.
Finally, after the afternoon sessions and a refreshing and powerful display of competitor martial arts abilities and enthusiasm, particularly in Tai Chi and Qigong, the 2018 Festival and competition concluded with a closing ceremony.
Each discipline had its own Head Judge, Master Tara Brayshaw for Tai Chi Arena, Master Sam Au for Qigong Arena and Master Tyler Rowe for Wushu Arena. They presented the medals and certificates to the competitors.
The President of WTQA, GM Eng Chor, presented the trophies to overall winners in Qigong, Tai Chi and Wushu, thanked the Chief Referee, Master Tong Low, the sponsors and guests, awarded certificates to the judges and all other volunteers without whom it would have been impossible to organise an event of this enormity. The guest from China, President Ji Jianmin, performed a beautiful Tai Chi form to mark the end of the Festival games.
Our Celestial Team has to be recognised and congratulated once again for its professionalism, commitment and reliability, from our Masters to brilliant competitors, Suzette, Catriona, Judith and Christine – more kudos to you for your talent, passion and resolve; from the hard-working and committed Floor Crew, Zenaida Calderon (Coordinator), Anna Yeow, Joy Muir, Chris Quinn, Siew Kim Tan, Geraldine Ryan to the judges, Margaret Rogers, Belinda Leong and I.
Many of our loyal students and instructors supported the Celestial Team from the audience, applauding and spurring them on with warm zeal for which we are grateful.
Well done, Celestial Tai Chi College!
Senior Instructor, Box Hill Centre