In August of 2012, Hiromi Sensei and five of her students went to Taiwan to compete in the International Cheng Ming Chinese Martial Arts Competition 2012.
It was a wonderful and educational experience for all of us, and below you can find all of our reflections, information and pictures of the trip, including:
Diary of each day of the trip by John McCullough with pictures:
The Adventure Begins
The following begins a record by John McCullough with some of the highlights from HTC’s trip to Taiwan to participate in the Second International Cheng Ming Martial Arts Championships in Taichung, Taiwan.
For a 30-hour travel ordeal everything actually went pretty smoothly. I drove up to Reagan National on Saturday morning for a mid-afternoon flight, arrived in LA at 8pm, and had a 6-hour layover before flight to Taipei. That was the easy part. The flight to Taipei takes about 12 hours and you lose 24 hours crossing the dateline so I got in at 6am this (Monday) morning Taipei time. At least I think that’s what happened.
It was fairly easy to get a bus to the main Taipei bus station and the hotel that we are all staying at is only about a 10 minute walk from there. Martin and Hiromi have been here since Saturday evening and I rang their room, met up with them, and then we all went out for breakfast at one of Taipei’s many cafes.
I wanted to do my best not to sleep until Monday evening and as Confucius probably said, with enough oolong tea anything is possible. So the three of us embarked Continue reading
I slept until almost 4am, which I considered to be a success. And the Internet is an insomniac’s best friend, so I got on my tablet and took care of some emails. Technology has made it so easy to stay in touch with the structures you leave behind, even halfway around the world. I was calling US cell phones within five minutes of arriving at my hotel yesterday for two cents per minute on Skype. There are few places where your work can’t find you on the planet. But it’s certainly very nice to be able to keep in touch with loved ones.
At 6am Hiromi, Martin and I went to the Peace Park to enjoy a little T’ai Chi in Taipei. There were a lot fewer people there than on Sunday – a group of 10 doing Ch’i Kung, several people meditating sitting against the trees, and one man circling a tree doing Ba Gua. We warmed up and did the 100 step form together and then Continue reading
We started Wednesday once again at the Peace Park with the 100-step form as usual. My state of mind (and body) when I finish the 100-step is always different than when I start, and this morning I was particularly grateful for the change. The four of us practiced our 14-step competition form and then our own individual forms. It was another great practice among the trees, frequently met with unabashed stares from the Taiwanese passersby.
After breakfast we packed up and checked out. Hiromi really scored on finding a great hotel. The See You Hotel’s location was perfect and it was inexpensive with an extremely helpful staff.
We had an uneventful bus ride down to Taichung Continue reading
We packed quite a bit into today. We started with two hours of early morning T’ai Chi practice at a park near the hotel next to a truly fascinating tree, then a great buffet breakfast at the hotel.
We were in the mood for a little more Buddha so we took a taxi to a temple and got quite a bit more Buddha. Apparently sometimes you can go inside and look out of the golden Buddha, but sometimes the door is open and other times it is closed.
We successfully flagged down another taxi and made our way to the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts Continue reading
Friday was here and it was time to get serious and get ready. So after our usual two hour morning practice (which was the first time in three weeks all five of us had a chance to do the form together), Martin, Joe and I went searching for a Laundromat.
Our efforts were rewarded when we found a hole in the wall coin-op, staffed by two of the most surprised Taiwanese I have seen so far. Apparently most patrons of the Evergreen Hotel don’t make it very far down the street. But the two guys, once they got over their shock, were very helpful and we successfully started the wash cycle. Continue reading
Quite a day of martial arts. There was a lot of poetry in motion out on the competition floor all day long and it was fascinating to see the little variations in the forms from the different schools. There were many people from Taiwan, quite a few from Japan, as well as competitors from Italy, Australia, Northern Virginia and Texas.
The day started with several wonderful demonstrations, including a traditional Chinese dragon dance. James Lee from Fairfax demonstrated a BaGua Double Sword form, and Hiromi demonstrated a Hsing-I Saber form. Then all the participants lined up and paraded out on to the competition floor in their respective schools. Continue reading
One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is the breakfast buffet at the Evergreen Hotel which has been pretty spectacular. They offer basic American breakfasty things like ham, eggs, bacon, sausage, cereal, fruit, breads, pastries, but there are also lots of fresh salad and vegetable options which I assume suits more eastern sensibilities. It’s all very good and is a really nice start to the day.
We met for breakfast and then again gathered in the lobby with all the other out of town competition participants to board the bus to be taken to the venue. Things got down to business pretty quickly today and the events started earlier than yesterday because there were no opening ceremonies or demonstrations. Continue reading
Below are Martin Johnson’s comments and pictures about the final full day in Taiwan.
After two full days of martial arts competition and demonstrations, the Cheng Ming family made a pilgrimage to Great Grandmaster’s grave to pay our respects. Wang Shu-Jin is the man to whom we owe the teachings that have drawn us all to the practice of the Cheng Ming system of internal martial arts, and it was time to give our thanks.
We all boarded a bus and started the one-hour journey to the city of Caotung. Downtown Taichung turned into more suburban scenery, where every square meter of unoccupied land seem to be under cultivation. Banana trees, rice paddies, plots of taro were tucked in between the buildings and more developed plots of land. Finally, our bus turned off the main road to climb the hill where the Grand Master reposes. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
The following are John Graysar’s reflections on the Taiwan trip.
I am so glad that I was able to be part of the group T’ai Chi team. It really was a very group oriented project, from beginning to end. I started to feel a more group challenge than an individual one right from the start. I would like to do my best to convey that feeling in my recap of the competition.
Back in June, after we established some of the basic things – position, timing, etc., the next big hurdle was getting 5 people together so we could do a group practice (just like what we would do in the competition). Well, here goes the first thread of my individual thinking, and I was not quite right in my assuming it would be easy. More times than not we would get together in an incomplete set. So, we would do the best in the circumstances and practice one or two or three people short.
Another item we had to address was establishing how we were going to do different moves and practicing these together, gently critiquing ourselves Continue reading
The following are Megan Sharp’s reflections about the Taiwan trip.
I don’t think that I have ever been more nervous about a trip in my life. For days before we left I could hardly think about anything else. I couldn’t believe that I was going to a country where I would only know how to say “yes” and “thank you” and could not read anything. What I had not factored in is that Hiromi can speak and read some Chinese, and she would help us even when we were not with her.
She sent an email before John Graysar and I headed out to tell us exactly how to catch the bus to the See You Hotel in Taipei once we arrived in Taiwan. Before that email we had all but decided to take a cab. The bus ride went without a hitch. Despite the driver not speaking any English, we managed to find our hotel. A very nice man who had grown up in Taipei walked us to the hotel. He met his mother who was waiting to pick him up, and explained that he was walking us to the See You Hotel and would be right back. This was one of many very kind and generous Taiwanese people we would encounter on our journey. Continue reading
The adventure begins! Most of us arrived on Tuesday, and there was time for some sightseeing before dinner, including the famous Lung-Shan Temple. By 7pm we had all checked into the Sunrise Business Hotel in downtown Taipei, which is only a short walk from the main train station. It’s the same hotel that several of us stayed at back in 2012 before the last celebration. Several bags took alternative routes to Taiwan, but eventually everyone was reunited with their luggage. There was talk of heading to the Night Market, but by 8:30 dinner was done and everyone was ready to head towards bed. Continue reading
We were up early and on the racquetball courts again at 6 a.m. to go over our group demonstration forms, Tai Chi, Hsing I five elements and Hsing-I animals. We had a good run through and then all went up to the breakfast buffet.
We got on the bus and left at 8 once again for the competition location. Several Cheng Ming organization administrators and local politicians had arrived for today’s opening ceremony, and we all listened to several speeches. There was also a performance by a local high school symphony with Chinese instruments which was extremely impressive. There were both solo and orchestra selections. Continue reading
This morning we had the final awards ceremony and participants also had the opportunity to speak about their experiences during the weekend. The Cheng Ming family stretches across numerous continents and countries and Master Eric from Texas and Master Hiromi were both called upon to do a lot of translating. It was great to see the international reach of our organization. Master Huang gave the following speech about the tournament. Continue reading
Grandmaster’s dojo is about 45 minutes outside of Taichung in a township called Caotun and on Monday we had the wonderful opportunity to train with him here. There are several training spaces, some indoor and one larger outdoor space connected to the building. The outdoor space is where we practiced after having tea together. The sides are open but it is covered by a metal awning which provides a very nice soundtrack when it rains, which it did several times while we were practicing. (Grandmaster said that this is his favorite training music.) Grandmaster seemed very happy to host us at his dojo and it was a special treat to get to see him in his element. Continue reading
The problem with the task of writing a brief reflection on the CTCC trip to Taiwan is
deciding what experiences make the cut. There is a desire to include every detail.
How could we leave out encounters with robots in Korea? The Rainbow Village. The
stunts our cabbies were pulling flying down the highway over 90 mph with a death
wish and us in tow. The food mosh pit carnival light show sensory explosion
madness, that is the Taichung night market. The best damn breakfast buffet in the
East at the Evergreen Laurel hotel. Those memories and more won’t soon be
forgotten, but what will stay with me are the relationships formed and the chance to
really immerse myself in training for the first time. Continue reading