Taiwan – John G’s Reflections

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 as we moved through.  Another item we were concerned with was the time limit we had to honor.  So, we practiced to a special CD that was timed out so we could use it as a gauge.

My first morning in Taiwan we left about 6am to practice.  I was happy, this is why I was here and now I was going to get to practice in a park that knew T’ai Chi. It was a truly wonderful experience.

Next, we took a bus to Taichung and checked into our hotel that was more or less going to be home.  The next event on our minds was the competition.  On competition day we all arrived by bus at a school building.  It was more or less controlled chaos.  There was a sign-in form and people all trying to find out where they were supposed to go.  After we all settled in, there were announcements and some really good entertainment, then various performances all highly skilled and done well.  It was nice, but somewhere in the back of my mind I knew we had to perform fairly soon, and I guess my main question was “How are we going to do?” Thankfully, I didn’t have too terribly long to wait because we were scheduled to be the fourth group to perform.

When our time arrived, I felt a little nervous.  I remember feeling more purposeful than anything else.  So, on we walk and we stood in front of the judge.  We had practiced having someone cue us verbally to bow.  Well, I don’t remember hearing any cue, however I do remember seeing that the judge’s eyes and body language seemed to be saying “Why don’t you bow already?”  So there was this little eternity that took place before we even started.

I will mention at this point that we had been practicing to music.  We bought the CD and arranged for someone on the side to play the CD when we started.  We never heard a peep from the CD player – technical difficulties I guess.  It was fine by me because I was so absorbed in concentration and in trying to flow with the group, I doubt I could have heard anything anyway.  The main thing I noticed about myself was that my hands felt a little shaky.  Thought not as shaky as they were when I took the instructor performance test in front of Hiromi and several other instructors.  I just did what I did then, I noticed it then let it go, and before I knew it we were wrapping up.  From my viewpoint it seemed like we were in pretty good sync and I didn’t see anything that looked like a mistake.  We finished and it felt good – good enough.

During the rest of that day and the next, I couldn’t help but over hear other people sharing about their experiences.  I would have to say the thing I heard the most was “I really hope the judges couldn’t see how badly I was shaking”.

So, to sum things up, I went to this primarily to learn and it was an experience that would be hard to reproduce.  I learned some things about myself and also how important harmony is in group settings and every day life.  I am grateful to have these insights to cultivate.

I hope I can attend another Cheng Ming competition in the future.