My name is Dennis Pounall. I am a 50 year old traditional Chinese martial arts practitioner. I practice Yang style Taiji boxing and Southern Style Pai Gi Noon gung Fu.
This year, I was fortunate enough to attend the 10th annual invitational Traditional Chinese Kung Fu Championships held in Orlando, Florida, U.S.A. at the magnificent Gaylord Palms resort five- star complex on Memorial Day weekend, May 23 – 25th.
I’m a member of the International Chinese Kung Fu Federation (I.C.K.F.), and also the National Canadian Chinese Martial Art Fellowship (C.C.K.S.F.), founded by Grand Master Sigung Ron Williamson of Atado School of Kung Fu Taiji and Defensive Arts. I was both excited and honored to represent Canada at this auspicious international event.
I live and work in Northern Ontario as a full time Flight Paramedic and also part time Land Primary Care Paramedic. This keeps me quite busy but I find time to train, mostly on my own with a few students who study various Chinese and Korean Martial Arts.
In this year’s International Tournament, all aspects of Chinese martial arts were represented, from Taiji to San Shou, Internal Styles, Xing Yi ,Bagua, Lihue Bafa, Praying Mantis, Grappling Push Hands, and Whusu. To top it all, there was a Masters’ Demonstration with Kung Fu Masters from all over the world. Their demonstrations were amazing and breath-taking.
Approximately 1500 competitors were expected from 8 different international countries. The team selection was held in April in Kitchener, Ontario, hosted by Sigung Ron Williamson in Waterloo, Ontario.
We invited every registered traditional Kung Fu school across Canada to participate, and it was open to all styles of Kung Fu, Whusu, and Taiji, giving every one a fair chance to be selected. Unfortunately, many people didn’t take advantage of this opportunity, not committing to this cause. So, once again, a few brave Canadians tightened their belts and their pockets and stood up to the challenge.We were hoping that some members from the Canadian Taiji Federation would be on hand to join us, but that wasn’t the case. Jill Heath did attend our Qualifier and participated in our tournament, providing information on the Canadian Taiji Federation and demonstrating a wonderful Sun style Taiji form and Fan form. Also Jonathan Krehm did a beautiful sword form and Yang form. I’d also like to thank the others from the Federation who provided their loyal support. I am getting side-tracked. Now, back to the story!!
The event started with all the countries being paraded with their flags before the officials. The spectacular event resembled mini Olympics. Sigung Ron gave us all a speech about the legendary twelve Shaolin monks, who defeated the three thousand invaders, to instill confidence in us. His leadership had a great effect on all of us. Puerto Rico, Canada, Italy Cuba, Panama Russia, Jamaica, U.S.A. and a small contingency from China competed for world class recognition. The rest of the Chinese delegation were detained for some unknown reason at the U.S.A. customs office and never got to participate in representing their homeland.
The Tournament’s opening ceremony started with a good luck traditional Lion Dance and the events went ahead as scheduled. We all wore Canadian uniforms with the country’s flag theme and individual wrist bands with our registered event numbers. The event looked more like a logistical nightmare than well-planned spectacle. The most important task was to stay focused. “In the midst of adversity all is clarity”. We all did our best and encouraged each other to do their best possible performance.
I had entered a grueling six events, ranging from Southern and Northern Weapons and Empty Hands to Taiji Hand Forms, Weapons and Push Hands. Most participants appeared tired and overwhelmed by the sheer grandiosity of this event. Although the co-ordinators did their best, the chaotic pace resembled a busy day on Wall Street’s stock exchange.
Wherever I looked, there was action in progress… jumping kicks, slow Taiji forms, practitioners wielding giant Bague Broad swords and swishing Kwando weapons…. a veritable cornucopia of martial arts disciplines, but, to me, it was poetry in motion.
For my part, I was awarded a Gold medal for my Pang Gi Noon Southern Gung Fu form and Silver for my Northern Style Fanzi Quan Lightening Fan form, and a fourth position in Restricted Step Push Hands. I was proud of my accomplishments, even though the rules for Taiji forms and Push Hands were rather frustrating. Most of the Yang forms in the advanced division had very low stances and very high kicks… something between Chen Style and Wudang style Taiji.
I found it interesting that in the Push Hand division, no grabbing with the thumbs was allowed, and neither was soft Chi Na nor any percussive pressing or uprooting. So, the only techniques that worked were short Jin, ward off with straight arm, slanting, flying, and Pluck with re-direction and press. I did a lot of “investing in loss” and now, I’ve acquired a better understanding of what is meant by “four ounces can deflect one thousand pounds”. This was a tremendous opportunity to learn and be humbled. I hope to see more of all of you on the International stage, honing your skills and honoring your lineage to the wonderful, diversified, beautiful arts of Kung fu, Taiji Quan, Qigong, and Whusu.
Despite limited funding and minimal coaching, these twelve athletes of team Canada managed to bring home twenty seven medals and seven titles, through dedication and discipline. Each athlete gave 110% to make Canada proud!! I would like to thank my beautiful wife for being my judge and jury in perfecting my forms, and encouraging me with love and patience through the year to keep practicing!! Thanks to Christine Brunet, who allowed me to use the Dance Studio to practice at ungodly hours to perfect my forms.
Thanks for reading my story
Peace, Sifu Dennis Pounall.