The British Open Tai Chi Championships Oxford April 2012

This year’s British Open attracted 150 participants from the UK and various European countries. Organiser Dan Docherty, as always, had prepared well, and his loyal group of helpers who I’ve now known for many years, enabled the

smooth running of the event with no suspensions or problems.

I never been to a more fluent running event, which started promptly at 10.30 and finished about 17.30. The system from the point of arriving, weighing-in, hanging around, preparing, looking for your own event at schedules on the wall, joining the in between medal giving, knowing who to go to with questions and go home when you like, it looks like everyone is so familiar with it – it’s like a relaxed jazz-rhythm.

This year there was no full-contact fighting. It was cancelled because of the low numbers. The result was more room for push hands.

The judging went well, nice qualified people, not too much discussion and we watched some good performances by seriously prepared people. After several years judging experience, I’m still surprised by the continuing high level of performers in Britain. However, one may notice the process of Wu-Shu-fication of some performances. These were evident in some inattentive walks and jumps, bare hand routines or the over-long stops and starts (although well dressed and done for nice photo shoots). I hope traditional tai chi chuan schools stay aware of their special qualities and keep working on demonstrating controlled internal martial spirit and will not sacrifice this to aesthetic appearance.

During judging there always are some surprises. Like a man who did weak hand-form but utterly changed his attitude and expression performing a weapon form, and a junior boy who did very good spear form. Emma North again demonstrated hidden strength and frightening concentration with her marvellous hand-form and I was also lucky to see a very beautiful balanced fan form by Peter Histed.

I had a good time with the judges I worked with this during the event, but to use the ‘Dutch-Uncle’ expression: Trusting that all judges are well qualified, it still is a pity the choice has to be limited mostly to judges from the Wudang Practical Tai Chi Chuan School.

TCUGB members have the privilege to join a good judging education system, organized by Gary Wragg on their behalf and it would benefit people who have never judged and are suddenly selected to sit on the panel and provide technical information about the characteristics of individual styles.

After another sunny day spent in Blackbird Leys sports hall we went back to London to celebrate a successful 24th British Open and the Irish boys golden medals with the traditional wine and whisky tasting. It was a good time to see all my British friends again and I thank Dan Docherty’s for his invitation and hospitality.

Ceciel Kroes – Netherlands