I've made disparaging noises in the past about the usefulness of doing forms competition. Even the masters will acknowledge that there's a difference between form and application. We do forms to learn the moves, to learn relaxation, to coordinate body and mind, yadda yadda, but what gets you points in forms competition (high kicks, low postures, etc.) are not the most useful techniques for fighting. Some people argue that if you can do the more extreme postures, then you will be stronger and more balanced for useful stuff, and so on. I'm not here to debate that.
It occurred to me, during practice this week, that forms competition is useful for developing fighting skill in a psychological way. Most of us get stage fright--it's human nature. When you get scared, you tense, and that's not good for your balance; it's also detrimental to the more esoteric aspects of tai chi, like relaxing the shoulders. If you can cultivate enough control over your body and mind to stay focused and relaxed during competition, then you may stand a better chance during a fight. Anything helps, I think.
And I want to know where it's written that I have to be on the rag during each and every competition? Really, God, is it necessary? I guess if I can maintain mental and physical control through weakness and cramping and light-headedness, I can keep cool during combat, too. Although frankly I'm more of a mood to tear off the heads of the other competitors and feast on their hearts. Snarl.