Monday, November 2, 2015

Ranking Season, Part II

We had our ranking test yesterday, and I will tell you, I am so relieved it's over! All the blood, sweat, and tears paid off, and I can joyfully tell you that I passed!

Here are the highlights:

Judges: There were seven judges in all. One head judge, three scoring judges, and three form judges. The form judges watch you to make sure that you perform the correct postures in the correct order. The scoring judges watch you for how well you perform the postures.

Regarding the written test: This was a four-page written exam where we were tested on our knowledge of the Yang Family Tai Chi  history, theory, and principles. I studied like a fiend. I think I did well.
Regarding hand form: It took me about 20 minutes to do the entire form. I had sweat dripping down my face, but luckily nothing ran into my eyes. I felt I did reasonably well. My kicks were fairly stable, but one spin was a little shaky and I had to touch my foot down before I completed the turn. There should have been a slight point deduction for that, and anything else the judges found.

Regarding saber: I felt pretty good going into this one since we'd been practicing the form a lot in class over the last couple months and performed it at a tai chi festival a couple weeks ago. I think my nervousness turned into adrenaline, and I attacked the form with all the vigor I had. My husband, who was the organizing judge and was standing outside the testing room, said he thought I finished it in a minute and a half! (It usually takes about two minutes.) I was wondering part way if I was moving too fast, but God help me, I was on cruise control and there was no slowing down!
Regarding sword: That stupid tassel! The tassel on the end of the sword acts as a tail, and it's supposed to flow and whip around gracefully to show the proper energy. Unfortunately, I got it wrapped around my hand a couple times. You are NOT supposed to untangle it; you'll get point deductions if you do. So I had to make do with the tassel wrapped tightly around my hand. Aside from that, I let little demons into my head, and doubts and fears were clouding my brain. I did not feel confident, so I'm sure it showed in my form. I started to question if I would remember everything, and then I started to panic! I had to calm myself down, and tried to get rid of my rattled nerves by imagining I was stabbing and chopping them with my sword! So, it was not my best performance, but I remembered the form sequence and thankfully didn't make any flamboyant errors.
Regarding push hands (working with an opponent): In addition to the judges judging your form, there is push hand judge partner for you to do push hands with, and another judge that calls the moves you are to execute. I got most of the moves and transitions reasonably right, but near the end, I botched up the move from double-arm vertical circle into a figure eight (yeah, I know, technical terms), so I had to calmly, gracefully keep working the form until I could set us up for the figure eight. A little rough, but I had to give myself a pat on the back for not panicking and sticking with it (no pun intended!).

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