This past weekend, the London Competition for Traditional Tai Chi Chuan took place at the Clissold Leisure Centre.

My kids class did really well - as usual for them, they won various medals for Pushing Hands. They love pushing hands and the competition has a nice friendly atmosphere, so all the kids play together, whatever clubs they come from. They have a great time and the parents get to see what they can do.

The medal I'm really proud of them for is they got gold for their group form. This is the first year they've entered for form as well as Push Hands and they've been practising hard for months on this. The trick is how to push them to practise hard, without it becoming a chore to them...

Two weeks before the competition, I also held gradings for them - all the kids and their parents knew in advance what was in the grading. Each different belt grading had different progression they had to show; even when they were doing the same activity, it had to be a higher level with specific extra things being shown for each level. The gradings all included push hands as well as group form, so that they really had a great time showing their proud parents what they had been learning all year.

There were things added in for each one of them to do during the group form, so they all knew what each person was doing to show their level and what they themselves would need to do to improve their own level. The key for kids to progress, is to tell them very specifically what the actual step up consists of, so they can practise that, knowing they are improving. It's not a mystery... Watching them do their group form during the grading was fantastic - from fumbling their way through it, they had really stepped up their game, so now they were really awesome to watch! Lots of hard work by them had really paid off!

Also I don't believe in stressing the kids by pressuring them to win medals. I just let them know I think they're good enough for gold, but it's all down to the judges, who could decide anything, so they shouldn't worry if they don't get a medal, they've already achieved enough to be winners in my eyes. That way, they don't obsess about medals and just having a go is all part and parcel of the competition experience. Whatever happens, I'm extremely proud of them!

I'm looking forward now to seeing all the parents' photos and videos of the competition - I couldn't be there myself (first year I've missed) due to work commitments, so these will be doubly welcome to see! Well done, kids!