Preserving Tradition

It’s traditions go back over 1,500 years, but for Eddie Wu, Tai Chi is still very much about today.

The president of a nation-wide organization of Tai Chi organizations, Wu brought the impressive skill to east Scarborough last weekend with an eye to preserving and promoting the traditional aspects of the beautiful art.

“This year, we decided to organize ourselves as traditional Tai Chi only, no Wushu,” said Wu, at the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto.

“China is trying to perform Wushu as a national subject in the Olympics. So they try to mix different types of martial arts into one category so the whole world is doing the same art.

” However, Tai Chi is one of the traditional martial arts, ” he said. ” It’s been around for over 1,500 years so today we wanted to be more traditional. ”

Wu heads the Canadian Organization of Traditional Taiji Quan Associations (COTTQA), a group trying to promote different aspects of the martial art to North Americans, starting with these Tai-Chi championships in Scarborough.

The past Tai-Chi championships were held in Panama.

“The whole world knows about mind and body relaxation, ” Wu said. “So as a traditional Taiji federation, today we try to get different styles.”

“It’s not about I’m better than you or you are better than me. It’s about friendship and cultural exchange. [This competition is] about what you can show to the crowd, ” he said.

There are five styles of Tai Chi; the Chen style, the Yang style, the Sun style and two Wu styles. Wu made sure each was on display during the championship.

But this inclusion also led to an exclusion. Wushu, a more aggressive martial art, is also normally paired alongside Tai Chi because of its similar qualities. However, even though Wu’s association is under the umbrella of the International Wushu Federation, it was removed from the competition to preserve tradition.

The local championship featured members from schools, and those doing individual training, some looking forward to the 2009 International Wushu Championships, set for the Canadian National Exhibition.