Another year has gone by, another year older. I am celebrating my 25th birthday again! I have celebrated quite a few 25th birthdays and I am already forgetting my real age. Haha!! but age is just a number and I like the number 25.
This year I celebrated my birthday in a very unusual and unexpected way. I took part in a competition! The last time I took part in any competition might have be when I was 5 years old. I don’t think I have ever been enthusiastic about competing in anything. So why now? hmm…..
Well it all began from a free lesson of tai chi one morning. Pei and I went to our community centre and join a group of people practising tai chi. It reminds me of the old ladies I saw in Guilin practising outside the hotel. We wanted to try something new and see what tai chi is all about. Is tai chi an exercise for old people? Swinging your hands slowly and imagining you are cutting up a watermelon? Well, now I know, I was so wrong about that. It is a whole lot more than I thought. Yes there were a lot of older people practising it but there were young people too. Tai Chi is a form of exercise that incorporates breathing, strength, flexibility, balance, coordination and it keeps the mind active. It is not easy to remember the steps. Even for a 25 year old.
The master that taught us tai chi is Professor Lily Sun and when I saw her doing some of the tai chi moves, I was so impressed. Her moves were so smooth and strong. She was graceful and powerful at the same time. She is friendly and also very strict with us. She is a real Ying and Yang. Even though it was a free class, she was always teaching us the steps as though we are going for a competition tomorrow. Ha Ha. But you learn more when the teacher is strict.
After attending a few free lessons, Pei and I decided to go for her classes to learn more. Now, in my mind, I was going for tai chi lessons as a form of exercise and also to learn the art of tai chi. We were learning Ba Duan Jin Qi Gong and Yang Style 9 Tai Chi Quan for a few months.
About a month ago, Lily kept encouraging us to take part in a Tai Chi competition that was coming. The competition was on my birthday. Initially I was a little hesitant but Pei seemed interested and asked me to join as well. Oh well, not really knowing what I was getting myself into, I said ok. We only live once! Just do it!
We registered for 2 competitions, one was the Ba Duan Jin Qi Gong and the other was the Yang Style 9 Tai Chi Quan. Both events we were going to be in a group of 5. There were Catherine, Khim, Lily, Pei and myself. Initially we had Joy but unfortunately she had to pull out in the last minute. We had about 3 weeks to practise. The ladies in our group were really very enthusiastic about the competition and I was worried that I will disappoint them. So Pei and I started to practise more at home. We had a team manager too! Lyn was so organised and helped us with our steps, practised with us, showed us how to march in and salute with attitude and confidence and made sure we were all prepared for the day.
How do we remember the transitions for the Ba Duan Jin? That was the biggest worry for us. So Pei and I sat down and we made a story to link all the steps together so that we can remember it. Ha Ha! It is made up of 8 steps, first was 1)morning stretch, then 2)shoot some birds, 3)place birds on shelf, after hard day’s work, 4)you open the toilet door and then you 5)shake your bum bum (bowel movement, I call it), then you 6)wipe your bum bum. After that, you have nothing better to do, so you go 7)punch some people and then go home feeling happy and 8)jump with joy. Tah dah! It works, we shared the story with the other ladies and they thought it helped them remember too. HaHa! Better make sure no tai chi master reads this or they might come after me for making a funny story like this.
The morning of the competition, Pei and I got up at 6am to practise a few rounds. Then we went to Monash University where the competition was held. There were other events such as the fan, sword tai chi and wushu. Competitors age ranged from about 6 years old to 90 years old. Age is really just a number! The event started with a grand lion dance. ( Kind of like a birthday present for me)
Our group was the first for the Ba Duan Jin. I felt my heart pounding so fast and tried my best to stay calm. We marched on with confidence and did our best. We were quite synchronised and we were so happy with our performance. We scored 8.75 ( it is a really high score, according to the judges) We won Gold! (Note: there were only 2 teams taking part in this event) hehehe…. but it was still a victory.
Then we waited for a while for the next event. There were 5 teams in the Yang Style 9 Tai Chi. We were the second to perform. I think we did pretty well and scored 8.22. We got silver for this event. But winning wasn’t the important thing, it was the team effort and the fun of learning that matters.
We were so lucky, we had Norman (Catherine’s husband) and Kendall as our camera man and Andrew was our video man. We had a bunch of supporters cheering for us too. Thanks everyone for making my birthday a memorable one. Sometimes, the unexpected events can be quite a pleasant one. Congratulations to our team! Thank you team members, team manager and our tai chi master Lily for our achievement. Who would have thought that I would be doing tai chi and actually took part in a competition. Life is full of surprises! Happy Birthday to me! and hope that every year feels like 25.