I was so excited to hear that the WTQA (Wushu Tai Chi Qigong Australia Inc) were going to start holding their annual festivals again here in Melbourne and that I was going to be involved in it as part of JinLi. I had no idea what to expect, other than it was a fantastic day, I would meet lots of people, see lots of incredible Tai Chi, Wushu and Qigong, and get a true taste of what it means to be part of the wider Wushu Community.
It was a joy to be a part of this fantastic day with JinLi sponsoring the event and being proudly represented across a variety of roles. Our Shifu, Tara Brayshaw, was Head Judge of Qigong and Judge for Tai Chi, while Shifu Lily Liang also judged on the Tai Chi floor. Our wonderful student, Lyndall, took home medals for her 24 and 42 barehand forms. She looked amazing. Shifu Lily and I organized a stall to showcase and sell a large range from our merchandise catalogue. Our indomitable trainee, Ross, was a volunteer who worked the floor like a pro. And I would be remiss not to mention our JinLi Cheer Squad, who were out in force to cheer everyone on. This was my first experience with attending a festival, and though I had been introduced to footage of competition and explored tai chi forms myself, I was unsure of how the day was going to play out. So, with a station wagon laden with stock and a cappuccino at my hip I began my journey to Melbourne’s northeast.
Upon arrival and after unloading our stock we were greeted by the organizers of the competition and ushered inside. It was here that I got to see the incredible amount of work that goes into organising the competition. Volunteers from many walks of life worked together from early morning in unified conviction to create a space for the festival. The sound of many hurried footsteps and excited voices echoed through the hall, as the space was transformed into a competition arena. As problems arose, they were quickly recognized and dealt with in a manner that was uniquely Tai Chi. The hard work that went into preparing the festival was a demonstration of the community’s love for The Arts. That said, I’m sure what I saw was only the tip of the iceberg – many weeks of unseen work must surely have been poured into the festival. I had seen so much preparation, and the performances and competition were yet to come.
It was such a surreal feeling to see the community come together in admiration of our art and to witness the very best Melbourne has to offer. This was evident in the abundance of filled seats and the reverent spectating of the crowd while the wonderful colours of myriad uniforms danced with the competitors, masters and practitioners as they executed their forms. How amazing it was to see the culmination of hours and hours of training realized and represented on the stage This reverence is something that, as a newcomer, I was incredibly impressed by, and something I honestly think the community should be proud of.
I of course had the pleasure of representing JinLi at our stall. This gave me a unique perspective of the festival, as I not only had an uninterrupted view of the arenas but could meet the many faces and characters of the Melbourne Wushu-Tai Chi community. As the day progressed, I was greeted by and had the absolute pleasure to meet so many people. All kinds of folks from different walks of life all united with a shared passion for Wushu, Tai Chi and Qigong, and despite their many differences were unified in respect for the competition and The Arts.
My first experience of a Wushu, Tai Chi and Qigong festival was an enlightening one to say the least, and as much as I was fascinated by the spectacle, the dancing satin, and powerful movements, my greatest take away from it was what an incredible introduction I had to the wider Wushu community. A community I am delighted to say I am now part of. I look forward to attending many more festivals to come with JinLi’s two little fish proudly embroidered on my chest.