Wednesday, April 16, 2008

National Inter-school Wushu (Group Finals)

Finally, we reached the final day of competition!
After an agonising 2-weeks and months of hard work, it all boiled down to this day.
Based on our calculations, VS was unbelievably in contention for Top 4 placing in both B and C Divisions.
But we knew we were head-to-head with other tougher and more experienced teams. The point difference was very close and there was still a total of 18pts in total to be contested for in each Division (9pts for 1st placing in Group Weapons, 9pts for 1st placing in Group Quan)

First, up was our C-Div Group Quan.
Our competitors dazzled the judges with changing formations and some of them had very technical flips and somersaults in them; by contrast our routine was a relatively simple one. To the old-school practitioners, the routine would seem familiar (Look at videos of the old Beijing Team during 80s :)

When we got our score of 7.86, we were quite hopeful but strong performances from our competitors pushed us to fourth place. Nevertheless, it was still an achievement to be in the top 4 and garner an additional 3 points for our team.

Next came the B-Div Group Quan.
The competition here was out of the world- the standard has really gone up and some of the schools have mastered some really impressive acrobatics. This year, we tweaked and modified our Xia Jia Quan to include formation changes and to add in more aerial movements.

Although we had hoped to impress the judges with our uniformity and form, the B-Div boys were relegated and only managed to place 6th. Nevertheless, I'm of all of you all, especially Terrence and Weiliang who braved their pain and injuries to pull through for the team.

After that came the final event for C-Div- The C-Div Group Weapon. Based on our calculations and rough estimates, it seemed that the C-Div was tied for division first at this point in time! Everything rode on the performance of the Group Weapon and pressure was intense for the boys.
This year's Group Event combined the best of 2 traditional forms by both my own teachers. We got Ryan Goh to be the central pivot of the team by leading with a traditional Hung Gar dagger routine while the rest of the boys did a modified Heng Quan Circling Dagger Routine that had them intersecting each others path

By this time, we knew that our focus on uniformity and martial choreography would be overshadowed by the flashy acrobatics of many other teams. But the boys did their best and hoped that the judges would appreciate how we blended 2 traditional forms and performed it in a novel way.
Our final score left us hovering precariously being tied for 4th- Fortunately, after the scores were re-assessed we won the tie break and emerged 4th for the event, adding another 3 points to C-Div.

By this time, the pressure was really on and even the judges were starting to feel it. The were several occasions where the head judge had to intervene to moderate the scores as there were instances of wide variances between the various corner judges.
Inspired by '300', our B-Boys attempted to inject a Spartan flavour into the wushu competition by doing a Sword and Shield performance for their Group Weapon event.

This even was the result of a long process of me choreographing it with the help of my own teachers to fine-tune and give it a distinct combative feel the routine. However, perhaps the intense combative element was not what the judges were looking for and we did not manage to place within even the top 6.
But that is the nature of competition, I'm proud that the boys have done their best- their performance went perfectly according to plan and they had no mistakes.
That is all I can ask of any one of the team members.

When it came time for results, I was really feeling anxious for the boys to see if my calculations were correct. If they were, in our short history since being officially formed in 2006, we would rank in the top 4 for not, one but two divisions.

Fortune favours the brave and we when it was announced that VS came in 1st Runner Up, my heart leapt with joy for all the hard work that the boys put in.
I wondered whether, my calculations would prove as accurate for the B-Boys. They had been disappointed in both Group events despite having trained really hard.
This was the first batch of students to have trained with me since the team was formally set up and they would be graduating this year and I wished so much for them to be able to leave their mark in VS history. Despite being denied in the team events, it seem our previous achievements did see us through and the B-Div boys managed to come in 3rd in their division.
This was an astounding sense of achievement for the boys and myself. Last year, we knew that VS was on the verge of breaking into the Top 4 in the C-Div but we didn't know if we could maintain and develop that edge this year- espcially since competition seemed to be getting more intense and the standards higher.
To simulataneously breaking into Top 3 for both C and B Division at the same time is a testament to the blood, sweat and tears the boys have put in.

We sacrificed our entire March holidays, I gave them a intensive training camp during holiday weekend (the boys can testify that we trained close to 16 hours from Fri to Sat morning!)
We analysied our movements by video, we trained at the beach.
I must also thank all our specialist coaches, my teachers who have taken time and effort to help me with my students. To my sifus, I hope I can sustain the legacy you have given to me in my students

It is a long road ahead and we know that we will bleed, sweat and cry along the way.
In reality, some of the boys literally bled for VS- Ryan Goh sustained a deep gash on his underarm from his weapon that required 3 stitches.

Bernie (aka Mr Baluku) got whacked twice in the head in one day (once by himself and once by his partner:P) The second impact was on the bump sustained during the first impact *sigh*
Bernie's little 'baluku' split and blood spurted out, staining his entire face.Yet all the while I was giving him first-aid, he maintained his composure.

None of the boys gave up- all of them wanted to keep training, to keep fighting for their team.That is the VS spirit and that is what makes us different.

My time as a competitive athlete is over for the moment, my dreams live on in the endeavours and success of the boys in my teams.
And when I see your achievements tower above my own,
when I see you all progressing so fast that I struggle to keep pace with you,
when I see old boys coming back to still train with us and be part of a team,
when I see all this in the silence of my office late at night,
I know that it is all worth it

You may be 2nd, 3rd 4th or even last in the eyes of the world.
To me, you are my champions and no one can take that away from you.

Nil Sine Labore

No comments: