We went to the 8th New England Chinese Martial Arts Championship organized by ICMAC last weekend. We went because YMAA Boston, where some RainyDayMagazine folks go to study Tai Chi, had people competing and we wanted to show support.
We are so glad we went!!!
YMAA Boston @ICMAC
Yang’s Martial Arts Association (YMAA) is an international organization dedicated to preserving traditional Chinese martial arts. YMAA Boston recently moved their school to Roslindale, a neighborhood in Boston. They offer classes in Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Chi Gong, and a lot more. The school has great energy, a terrific location, and amazing teachers. What more can a student ask for?
In Chinese martial arts, set patterns of movements—forms—are designed to teach both techniques and principles. By repeating the set patterns, practitioners hope to develop the appropriate muscle memory, so that movements under stress will “come out” without having to think. Understanding the application of forms are paramount to performing them properly. Most of the competitions at ICMAC were of this type.
While it can be difficult to gauge actual martial effectiveness of an individual’s form, as the championship moved up the age groups, the increased complexity and polish of the forms was obvious. More evident, too, was the “sense of enemy” in the more skilled students. These students were not just “hitting the air,” but sparring with an invisible opponent, which was real for them in that moment, without or with weapons.
Disrupting the opponent’s center while maintaining one’s root is at the heart of Push Hands training. Expressing strength yet remaining “soft” is deceptively powerful, and harder to master than you’d think.
Practicing forms are one thing, but it is a whole different matter when faced with an actual opponent. Of course, the purpose of training is to reduce that difference: keep your root, move from “center,” offense and defense as one: these things don’t change regardless of style, art, or situation.
Sparring at the tournament was “light-contact” only. “Light” in the sense that competitors must be able to fully control their own attacks. The goal is not to knock someone out, but to show good technique, precision, and proper control. If you draw blood, you are disqualified. No exceptions.
Congratulations to all the YMAA students and instructors who competed at ICMAC Boston! The large number of awards brought home is a clear indication of both the quality of the teachers and the dedication of the students at YMAA.
Receiving recognition for all their hard work is certainly gratifying, but we saw a lot more than that from everyone who attended the tournament. Great sportsmanship, respect, and a sense of community were clearly evident from all who competed in the various events, win or lose.