The following comments are Joe Sebastian’s reflections on the Taiwan trip.
Our trip to Taiwan was very enjoyable as well as enlightening. Taiwan is a surprisingly contemporary country with modern cities and lush green countryside. When we first arrived we were greeted by friendly people and an abundance of wonderful bakeries and enough coffee shops to make me feel quite comfortable. Motor Scooters seemed to be a major mode of transportation. They were everywhere, weaving in and out of cars on the roads and people on the sidewalks.
One of my favorite parts of the trip was practicing with our team in the mornings before the tournament. We met at a local park at 6AM each morning, and also again in the afternoon on the Hotels Ping Pong or Squash Court. It was nice to meet the other teams from around the world as they arrived at the hotel. It was interesting to watch the other teams as they practiced on their own and competed in the tournament. Each school’s forms are slightly different. Some schools more than others. This also helped me see where I needed to work on my forms.
At the tournament my wife Beth was especially pleased to see the Dragon dance as part of the opening ceremony! I enjoyed doing the 14-step Tai Chi with our group and we did very well. I wasn’t even nervous. Unfortunately I was scared to death while doing the individual forms. I survived though. I hope to go back next time and overcome my phobia of judges. Everybody was very encouraging.
As the tournament continued we were able to meet students from all over the world and students of many different ages. An 85 year old student from Taiwan showed me how he could still do sword forms. By the end of the two days we had many new friends and enjoyed spending time with them at the awards banquet, lunch and at the hotel. Everyone who participated received a medal and a certificate.
Monday we hiked up the mountain to the gravesite of the Great-Grandmaster Wang Shu-Jin. It was a beautiful monument built into the mountain. There was an Indoor student and In-room student ceremony by the Monument. Afterwards we were treated to a wonderful lunch at a local restaurant with all the students who were able to stay an extra day. They just kept bringing food until we were all stuffed.
Beth and I were lucky to be able to stay a few extra days and do some sightseeing both in Tai Chung and Taipei. We visited some temples and went to the National Palace Museum. We saw a lot of incredible art and architecture. Taking the High Speed Rail gave us a chance to see the countryside with its beautiful farms and mountains. Should I be fortunate enough to go to Taiwan again I will know to leave more time to see all the sights!
I want to thank Hiromi Sensei for this amazing opportunity!!!