Report from the ISCT Festival 2015 in Saarbruecken
The Festival of the International Society of Chen Taijiquan (ISCT) took place this time in German Saarbruecken. More than 140 participants from China, Japan, Italy, Germany, Luxembourg, France, Spain, Korea, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic gathered in the beautiful and well equipped campus of the Hermann-Neuberger sport school in the vicinity of the capital of Saarland to practice together this unique martial art.
The ISCT associates practitioners of the chen taijiquan small frame from all over the world. The festivals takes place every three years since 2001, when the society was established in Paris. Of course, for non Asian participants the most inspiring are the options to see many kung-fu brothers and sisters in China – the ISCT Festival was twice held in Kaifeng (2006 and 2012). The next festival is planned for 2018 to Tokyo.
The German student’s body has grown during last 20 years from small school “Die Pagode” in Friedrichshafen, lead by martial arts aficionado Dietmar Stubenbaum. The 20th anniversary of the Pagode was commemorated during one of the evenings in Saarbruecken. Thanks to Dietmars lasting effort the chen taijiquan community in Germany has grown to be strong enough to be able to organize the festival this year.
Thanks to extreme dedication of all the German organizing team the event run smoothly from the first day till the end. The introductory sessions given by Master Chen Peishan on Friday went through many details of the long form, yi lu. Both the beginners or long-term practitioners benefited from this session. Afternoon was devoted to the short form, sizheng, with focus on the active step. This gave more dynamics to our movements and helped us to focus on the stepping, which was also quite crucial in the next two days.
The next two days were devoted to the study of the short sword form, sizheng sword. For majority of the European audience it was the first time we have seen this form. The form uses the same structure as the sizheng form, so the stepping itself was not difficult to learn even for beginners. Trickier was to properly use the sword in a movement flow, as part of the spiral movement in body or bodily extension.
Next lessons on Monday and Tuesday met with real ardor. First Master Chen Peishan taught various method – fa – in the sword form. All of us could realize that the chen taijiquan is really in big part about the feeling and mind focus. The focus on various methods can change entirely the external effect which the movements make.
On Monday afternoon Master Chen Peishan explained the internal movements in the long form. For many of us it was quite hard to reproduce his movements, so sometimes he had to explain the movements from different angles again. The same applied to the last day, which was focused on the tuishou, training in pairs. Really, we had to come back to the basics, check again our stands and basic structure, before getting to some simple tuishou routines. The tatami room was soon wet and even during practicing the basics we were happy to have the soft ground under our soles, elbows and backs.
Besides the everyday training portions the festival was also the time for socializing and publicizing the chen taijiquan. Open demonstration evening was attended by audience of few hundred. Many groups and individuals presented various forms on different levels of difficulty. We could admire the precise movements of the Japanese delegation, which presented several times the short and long form and weapons. The Italian presentation was nicely choreographed into complete presentation, which culminated by high level show by Carmela Filosa and her advanced students. The German and Luxembourg groups gave several presentations. Several advanced individuals from Germany and Luxembourg gave a solo presentation, including Anny Leippert, Volker Bänsch and Dietmar Stubenbaum, so the audience could enjoy also some fajin show and focused advanced movements. The demonstrations were crowned by Master Chen Peishan short double sword form presentation, which was presented publically outside the Chen family for the first time. At the end all participants showed the sizheng form together.
The ISCT conference
One of the evenings was held the traditional ISCT conference. Here, besides several presentations dealing with specific experiences with teaching taijiquan, we heard the reports on the development in several countries. The German group leader Dietmar Stubenbaum presented the publications planned for this year – the book about sizheng translated from Japanese, the commentary by Master Chen Peiju to Chen Xins classical book on chen taijiquan and the DVD instructing the sizheng taijiquan. The Italian group also presented their activities in cooperation with local university institutions and Italian Confucius Institute.
The Saarland media informed about the Festival extensively. The Saarland TV streames still the festival news report with short interview with Master Chen Peishan and Dietmar Stubenbaum. (http://sr-mediathek.sr-online.de/index.php?seite=7&id=32425&startvid=12)
Besides the practice together the participants had more than enough time to socialize. The facilities in the campus gave enough space for informal gatherings and the final evening gala dinner was another option to meet.