In Hamburg before Wu Wei Cup in 2012. Saar Avivi and me doing some Tui Shou to revv up. The team was Bernie de Tauzia, Diomedes C, Saar Avivi and Robert Åsbacka.
It was our “warm up” for the European Championships and it went very well. We ended up reaping alot of gold, silver and bronze medals. The toughest resistance was offered by Mirko Lorenz and his very able Chen-style team. Both teams lost and won some. In the end we all won. If not for Mirko´s guys it would have been a walk in the park, but now everyone really had to bring out the best in them. I am convinced it worked the other way around as well. We pushed each other litterally and made each other better that day.
Competitions have been and still is a controversial subject within the Tai Chi community. For reasons still very cloudy and too profound to me. Some say competitions destroy the “pure principles” in Tai Chi. Which of course is rubbish. If you never train to deal with an opponent who is unwilling and want to win as much as you do, you will never be able to work under pressure. Some say rules destroy the “deadly self defence techniques in Tai Chi”. Which of course also is rubbish. If you know your instrument, you can play it in any setting. I have been at competitions where the organizer change the rules on the competition day.
Yes -it sucks. But suck it up!
You are there to win. If you trained well, you adapt. End of it.
Tai Chi Chuan deal with change. In spite of this i am amazed how rigid and stubborn some in this community are. Adapt or die. It does not mean you compromise principles or tradidtion. It means you are able to bring your skills and knowledge into unknown terrain. Out of the comfort zone. And that´s where you learn valuable lessons. I was taught, and i always teach my students this way.
Competitions are usually a step stone. Usually you do this when you are young, ambitious, hungry. It is natural at that stage in life and training. It doesn´t mean we go on to train Tai Chi Chuan to compete forever. We use competition as a tool for development. Simple.
Right kind of stimuli – development will follow.
Pushing Hands are drills where we train the skills of Tai Chi Chuan. If done properly . Competition Push Hands is a set of rules designed to measure the total set of skills in an individual at a certain time; “dong jing”, strength, willpower, focus, stamina, explosivity, footwork, evasion and so on. Some people have great skills when training in ordinary class, but when stepping on the lei tai or into the ring they freak out. They do not have the nerves to deal with the situation. Yet. If you continue to deal with these situation you will get used to it, and actually be in control. Of yourself and your opponent. This is important.
In Tai Chi Chuan. In life.
A friend – a Tung-style pracitioner – told me a story years ago.
He told me that during one of the big gatherings in Europe, there was time for questions to the master. So – the question arose.
– What about competitions?
– Yes. What about them. The master replied.
-Well…they are bad Tai Chi aren´t they?
– Look. It is very simple, the master said.
– You train, you go to competition, you win, you go home. What is problem?
So – do not mix up things.
If you compete in Push Hands you want to win.
If you train Push Hands you want to learn skills over time.
These two are different and the same.
And go to competitions.