International Kung fu Taiji Quan Championship

The 2008 International Kung fu Taiji Quan Championship

dscf5734_300My name is Dennis Pounall. I am a  50 year old traditional Chinese martial arts practitioner. I practice Yang style Taiji boxing and  Southern Style Pai Gi Noon gung Fu.

This year, I was fortunate enough to attend the 10th annual invitational Traditional Chinese Kung Fu Championships held in Orlando, Florida, U.S.A. at the magnificent Gaylord Palms resort five- star complex on Memorial Day weekend, May 23 – 25th.

I’m a member of the International Chinese Kung Fu Federation (I.C.K.F.),  and also the National Canadian Chinese Martial Art Fellowship (C.C.K.S.F.), founded by Grand Master Sigung Ron Williamson of Atado School of Kung Fu Taiji and Defensive Arts. I was both excited and honored to represent Canada at this auspicious international event.

I live and work in Northern Ontario as a full time Flight Paramedic and also part time Land Primary Care Paramedic. This keeps me quite busy but I find time to train, mostly on my own with a few students who study various Chinese and Korean Martial Arts.

In this year’s International Tournament, all aspects of Chinese martial arts were represented, from Taiji to San Shou, Internal Styles, Xing Yi ,Bagua, Lihue Bafa, Praying Mantis, Grappling Push Hands, and Whusu. To top it all, there was a Masters’ Demonstration with Kung Fu Masters from all over the world. Their demonstrations were amazing and breath-taking.

 

Approximately 1500 competitors were expected from 8 different international countries. The team selection was held in April in Kitchener, Ontario,  hosted by Sigung Ron Williamson in Waterloo, Ontario.

We invited every registered traditional Kung Fu school across Canada to participate, and it was open to all styles of Kung Fu, Whusu, and Taiji,  giving every one a fair chance to be selected. Unfortunately, many people didn’t take advantage of this opportunity, not committing to this cause. So, once again, a few brave Canadians tightened their belts and their pockets and stood up to the challenge.

dscf5724_300We were hoping that some members from the Canadian Taiji Federation would be on hand to join us, but that wasn’t the case. Jill Heath did attend our Qualifier and participated in our tournament,  providing information on the Canadian Taiji Federation and demonstrating a wonderful Sun style Taiji form and Fan form. Also Jonathan Krehm did a beautiful sword form and Yang form. I’d also like to thank the others from the Federation who provided their loyal support. I am getting side-tracked. Now, back to the story!!

The event started with all the countries being paraded with their flags before the officials. The spectacular event resembled mini Olympics. Sigung Ron gave us all a speech about the legendary twelve Shaolin monks, who defeated the three thousand invaders, to instill confidence in us. His leadership had a great effect on all of us. Puerto Rico, Canada, Italy Cuba, Panama Russia, Jamaica, U.S.A. and a small contingency from China competed for world class recognition. The rest of the Chinese delegation were detained for some unknown reason at the U.S.A. customs office and never got to participate in representing their homeland.

The Tournament’s opening ceremony started with a good luck traditional Lion Dance and the events went ahead as scheduled. We all wore Canadian uniforms with the country’s flag theme and individual wrist bands with our registered event numbers. The event looked more like a logistical nightmare than well-planned spectacle. The most important task was to stay focused. “In the midst of  adversity all is clarity”. We all did our best and encouraged each other to do their best possible performance.

I had entered a grueling six events, ranging from Southern and Northern Weapons and Empty Hands to Taiji Hand Forms,  Weapons and Push Hands. Most participants appeared tired and overwhelmed by the sheer grandiosity of this event. Although the co-ordinates did their best, the chaotic pace resembled a busy day on Wall Street’s stock exchange.

Wherever I looked, there was action in progress… jumping kicks, slow Taiji forms, practitioners wielding giant Bague Broad swords and swishing Kwan-do weapons…. a veritable cornucopia of martial arts disciplines, but, to me, it was poetry in motion.

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For my part, I was awarded a Gold medal for my Pang Gi Noon Southern Gung Fu form and Silver for my Northern Style Fanzi Quan Lightening Fan form, and a fourth position in Restricted Step Push Hands. I was proud of my accomplishments, even though the rules for Taiji forms and Push Hands were rather frustrating. Most of the Yang forms in the advanced division had very low stances and very high kicks… something between Chen Style and   Wudang style Taiji.

I found it interesting that in the Push Hand division, no grabbing with the thumbs was  allowed, and neither was soft Chi Na nor any percussive pressing or uprooting.  So, the only techniques that worked were short Jin, ward off with straight arm, slanting, flying, and Pluck with re-direction and press. I did a lot of  “investing in loss” and now, I’ve acquired a better understanding of what is meant by “four ounces can deflect one thousand pounds”. This was a tremendous opportunity to learn and be humbled. I hope to see more of all of you on the International stage, honing your skills and honoring your lineage to the wonderful, diversified, beautiful arts of Kung fu, Taiji Quan, Qigong, and Whusu.

Despite limited funding and minimal coaching, these twelve athletes of team Canada managed to bring home twenty seven medals and seven titles, through dedication and discipline. Each athlete gave 110% to make Canada proud!! I would like to thank my beautiful wife for being my judge and jury in perfecting my forms, and encouraging me with love and patience through the year to keep practicing!! Thanks to Christine Brunet, who allowed me to use the Dance Studio to practice at ungodly hours to perfect my forms.

Thanks for reading my story

Peace,

Sifu Dennis Pounall.

For more details, workshops and Seminars contact
Sifu Pounall at:dennis@taijiboxer.com

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Equilibrium means:

A condition in which all acting influences are canceled by others, resulting in a stable, balanced or unchanging system.

Mental and emotional balance; poise.

Physics : The state of a body or physical system at rest or in unaccelerated motion in which the resultant of all forces acting on it is zero and the sum of all torques about any axis is zero.

Chemistry : The state of a chemical reaction in which its forward and reverse reactions occur at equal rates, so that the concentration of the reactants and product remain stable.

Equilibrium is a concept that embodies some of the highest attributes of a effective martial arts discipline. It is uniquely embedded in the intricacies of Taijiboxing as it demonstrates the essence of the art form.

In many forms of Taijiquan they often refer to the theory of Yin and Yang, without any concrete example of it in the real world. There is often many references to conceptualized application for both, self defense and energy work or Qui kung training. I believe both are one in the same in the fact that both the idea of softness overcoming hardness can not fully be experience with out real life application.

                        

With this new skill of equilibrium it is possible to be one step closer to the appreciation of simplicity of the supreme ultimate fist theory for health longevity and effective self defense. This can be utilized in the form as a discipline for life and an artful expression in daily Taijiquan practice. In the practice of Tui shui, most people learn push hands in the traditional way and start very gently with one hand, and eventually both. With time, patience and diligent practice, few venture into the competitive area of push hand competitions.

            

But what does this really teach us?

Most of the players are usually players with some martial arts background, are competitive and don’t mind a bit of contact. The more seasoned the player, the better off they tend to perform.

So, what are they really better at?

I believe that push hands is a skill that is a integral part of Taijiboxing art, a successful addition to practice self defense. When and only if practiced in the correct context, true benefits yield. If push hands is practiced in arena of fixed rules and stipulations, then it is not realistic. As in the natural environment, there are no fixed rules or stipulations. The real world is dynamic and variable just as the practice of push hands should be.

The interpretation of the classic always maintained this: the idea of soft overcoming hard, slow defeating fast, parables adopted by students, observing the masters. Over time, some of these popular statements became included as part of the chronicles of Taijiquan. The reality is if you move fast, I move faster. This claim has little to do with speed alone, but on perception and preemptive movement. This is where the soft skills of listening adhere, stick, follow lead and attack are most useful, through a developed sense of natural equilibrium. These principles were always developed through experience and real time application. Full force full speed, sometimes discomfort, pain or even injury.

Henceforth, the age old adage ‘invest in loss’ doesn’t necessarily mean that Taijiboxing or any martial arts should be become a Macho art with Gladiatorial writes of passage.

Realistic approach to training embodies personal protection, prevention of injury and enlightenment for a better quality of life.

This is what might’ve meant by the title of the Supreme ultimate fist and may have nothing to do with the idea of being the best as the only method designed to achieve longevity.

Maybe the practice of Taiji quan is one of the better ways to stave off disease and live in harmony with oneself, and the environment.

We must try to achieve a state of natural equilibrium that allows us to move with ease, thus balancing our emotions, attitudes and belief systems.

We should know when to be to be strong, when to be hard (if necessary) for self preservation. Soft but supple, compassionate, reasonable, intuitive . . .

The natural way for equilibrium to work is also known as harmony.

This may well have been what the ancients called enlightenment – the ability to utilize the theory of yin and yang

in everyday life . Through the practice of moving meditation the taijiform and the application of principles for

self development, preservation and protection.

Equilibrium is the essence of stillness and motion and motion in stillness

“You strike high i attack low”

in stillness, these traits embody the essential tenants of Taijiboxing and Taijiquan for a fuller, more vital lifestyle.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and look forward to sharing and discovering of new wisdom from the

ancient teachers.

Dennis Pounall lives and works as a flight paramedic in Northern Ontario Elliot Lake, competes (inter)nationally

in Chinese Martial arts weapons and of course Taijiquan demonstrations and competitions. His wife of twenty years, Jana, is a yoga instructor and a novelist.

Peace Sifu Dennis Pounall.

For more interesting articles check out www.taijiboxer.com. for videos www.youtube.com@dpounall.

E-mail to dennis@taijiboxer.com.

Workshops and seminars: dennis.pounall@yahoo.ca

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