Welcome to The Palace Guard, the tai chi chuan and martial arts blog for intelligent martial practitioners. As the blog develops, I hope to feature other writers with a fresh take on the martial arts and related subjects. For now, I hope you enjoy my posts: feel free to leave comments, or email me at the address available on the profile.

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Ch1 "The Elders can train martially too"-where the author tries unsuccessfully not to offend

Let's get this straight. I love tai chi. I've enjoyed it for years, and being someone of a relatively short attention span, this is miraculous in itself. We practice in the rain, the snow: the delights of the British weather are our constant companions, and this doesn't dissuade me one bit. Tai chi has saved my arse definitely on one occasion, and provided me in general with good health, friends, and the excuse to own a sword. Wonderful.
But, well how can I put this...? There is something rather staid about it. Out-of-condition,late middle-aged people milling about dressed as though someone's throwing a Chinese-themed fancy dress party. This is the image of tai chi. Throw into the mix some stuff about healing, and maybe calligraphy, make some comment like "well it used to be a martial art you see...", and you have the whole package. This picture represents half of the scene. The other half is composed of vigourous men and women of a range of ages enjoying and training in an effective martial art which contains qualities as impressive as any of those found in aikido or ninjutsu classes. Yet this side of tai chi is rarely seen in the magazines, and never in the books. The sad thing is, tai chi would be the perfect martial art for those out of condition, or who are weak or have injuries. But such people are sucked into merely doing Handform, which has become the bugbear of the style. As Handform competitions become more popular (and more Wushu-like by the day...) and as the Contact events are filled with competitors from other martial arts, what will be the future for the unique martial way of tai chi?
Don't get me wrong. It's not that I'm ageist or anything. But the fact is, when you look at all the other martial arts, many of them have practitioners of all ages, engaging in a martial syllabus. This to me is the real spirit of training. I think more older tai chi people would train this way, if only their teachers were brave, or knowledgeable enough.

Monday 13 December 2010

The results of my Herculean efforts

Boo, and again boo I say. Competitions and me, we don't seem to get along. First round, the guy was no problem: a few solid pushes, a few quick pulls, 20-8 in my favour. The muscled, tattoed ones look the part but it doesn't mean much...
Second round, and this one was much closer. But quite frankly, the dude was scoring because of my penalties. Moved my back foot when pushing him over, he gets the point. That one I can understand. At 6-6, I get annoyed because he's not doing much, and matching me point for point. I give him a good shove, and he's hanging time like a human windmill, not quite going over. So I give him an extra shove, and over he goes. Two penalty points to him because apparently it was a strike not a push, time up:  he wins 8-6. Boo.
I hate competitions. Well done I suppose, Danish dude whose name I know not. Jammy bugger.

Friday 10 December 2010

It's competition time....

Tomorrow is the European Tai Chi Championships, held in Blackbird Leys,Oxford. I, and a fellow Brighton Wudangist, shall be making our way to the tournament, there to Push Hands with all-comers of a European bent. Preparation has been minimal, having only decided to enter about five weeks ago. If I can get through the first round, I'll be happy. I have an astonishing ability of giving away penalty points, and generally pushing the boundaries of what is strictly allowed. I am not proud of this, it's just something that seizes hold of me. Rather like what happens to some people when they're allowed to play Monopoly, who suddenly become hand-rubbing, throat-cutting capitalist fat cats, I become a cheating, dirty-fighting ignoble bum. I daresay these antics will do me no good.
In order to meet the rather optimistic start-time of 0900 hours, my companion and I have to leave Brighton practically in the middle of the night. We are going to pretend that we are going on holiday. I shall post our results (hem hem) and reflections upon our return. It was nice knowing you all...