Friday, April 16, 2010

National Inter-school Wushu Championships: Group Finals

So the day of reckoning has arrived.
Our first event was the C-Div Group Quan:

The C-Boys have always been a bit lacking in this event compared to their seniors in B-Div. Essentially, the routine is the same but the C-boys lack the tightness and 'ooomph' the seniors deliver.
But today, we can see from their performance that they have worked hard to tighten their act and movements are crisp and tight now. Many eyes were on VS definitely.
I'm sure our improvement was such a big surprise even to the judges that for the first time participating in the National Inter-school Wushu Championships, I was hauled off to the Head Judges table immediately after our C-Boys performed to explain our choice of music to them.

Yup. They wanted me to explain why our music violated competition rules of not having any lyrics in the music- for which there would be a penalty deduction of points. By then our C-Boys were waiting nervously for their scores to come out but I told them be steady. My years teaching Literature and helping to launch the VS Debate team in 2004 must have paid off because I explained that the definition of 'lyrics' must be in a recognisable language. The evocative female hum in our opening sequence (0.00 to 0.16) can hardly be constituted as lyrics right?
I mean, if you can subtitle that section for me and tell me which language it is sung in, I would gladly concede that point.
The judges took awhile to deliberate the merits of my thought provoking thesis and finally agreed- the C-Div boys only had to wait for about 10mins standing still before I was informed that there would be no penalty for us.
Incidentally, the fact that the immediate previous school before us had, by sheer coincidence used the EXACT SAME piece of music and immediately been given their score without protest or query seemed to slip the judges minds.
It is perfectly understandable that in the long arduous competition, you might have a temporary episode of short-term memory and in our tropical climate, it might be contagious and infect people around you.
When I mentioned it to the advisors and convening authuourity, they agreed that spontaneous memory loss was an issue that I could legitimately lodge a protest against. I declined cos I believe that I made my point, the C-Boy's didn't get deduction of their points and also by that time I was seriously confused whether I was teacher-in-charge at a Inter-school Wushu Championships or teacher-in-charge at Inter-school Debating Championships.
For their efforts, the C-Boys managed to get a 3rd place in this event.

Having seen their juniors go through the judging fiasco, the B-Div knew that they would be severely scrutinised. To their credit, they pulled-off their Group Quan with aplomb. In the clip, you can see that many of their slaps and strikes were able to echo with just one single sound. While our other competitor teams strove for mastery over technical and acrobatic movements, we strove for unity and togetherness:

Nevertheless, B-Div were not able to place as there were 3 ties in 2nd position at 8.11. VS just happened to get 8.1 and was relegated to 5th place, so we were unable to garner any points for B-Div in that event.

In the C-Div Group Weapon, our C-Boys were the first ever group in the Inter-School Championships (and as far as I know, in National Championships) to do a Group E-mei Needle routine. It was a challenging routine to choreograph because prior to this I myself never learnt that weapon; but we discussed it and agreed as a team to try something new and challenge ourselves.
The main problem with this weapon is getting it to spin consistently and we knew that it would present opportunities for multiple point deductions; but heck, it's a damn fun weapon to practice with and despite small mistakes today, the boys did manage to pull off most of their spins successfully:

Our Sec 1s are just so adorable-- when they reach Sec 4 and still run around like that spinning needles, then I'm going to get worried :P
After the event, we were tied in 4th place- however after moderation of scores, we were relegated out to 5th and C-Div did not place in this event.

Having not placed in the previous Group Quan, the B-Div boys needed to secure at least a 2nd place in this event in order to earn enough points to contend for Top 4 Divisional placing. We were the last to go in this event and from the moment our boys went up, we definitely caught the attention of the crowd. Friends, fellow supporters and even our competitors were cheering us on. We delivered a tight routine and I felt my hopes soar....

I don't know whether the audience members close to me were more shocked by the fall or my loud groan while filming.
Understandbly, the boys were feeling down and I rushed over to them. My main concern was if anybody had been injured because I overhead some audience member say they saw one of our guys limping. Thankfully, no sprains were evident.
While I vehemently questioned the motivation behind certain procedures invoked against us today, this mistake me and the B-boys gotta take it on the chin.
Because in this instance, it was through our own mistakes that we let our chances slip away. Any major fall in an event is a deduction of 0.5point. Given our final score of 7.66, if we had not made that unforced error, we would be tied for second in the event with 8.16 points.
With that , VS B-Div stayed at 22points and was relegated out of Divional Top 4 placing.

Now, before we all go pointing fingers in the team. Boys, it is a Group Event so there are NO such thing as individual mistakes.
Would I scold you guys if it happened in training? You bet your life!
But I know you've been training hard and in this event you all gave your best- How can I bear to reprimand you all when I feel the pain and disappointment for each of you too?
For the boys who have not done as well as they have expected in the Individual events, especially when they end up getting getting 2nd or 3rd place after a close fight; I've been telling you all
"Don't turn your minor victories, into major disappointments"

Look at us receiving our C-Div Group Quan 3rd place today:

We got a chance to go on stage and bring the Victorian flag with us- only the top 4 schools out of the 17 schools in that event get a chance to do so.
Isn't that in itself something for the entire team to celebrate?

Look at our total number of Individual medals this year:

Isn't that cause to still celebrate?

Whatever our results today, we went in knowing that at the very least, C-Division had cemented itself for C-Division 3rd Place.
Isn't that cause to still celebrate?

So although I felt the pain in each one of you, I wanted you all to pick yourself up and celebrate with pride what you all have accomplished as a team and still sing the Victorian Anthem at the end of the day

In one of our classic cheers, we say:
"We walk from the game with pride and fame; we feel no fear and we feel no pain"
Where does that pride come from? In doing our best!
Where does the fame go to? The fame goes to Victoria- the school that watched us grow!

Grow into Gentlemen, Professional and Sportsmen!

So I saved the best video for last.
So this morning, while you all were warming-up before going off to competition grounds. I sat quietly in the corner, sipping tea, just watchin you all. To be honest, I myself totally shack out liao.
But watching you all take ownership of your own training- peers leading peers, seniors guiding juniors, that made me feel that the seeds I planted back in 2005 have not only taken root but are bearing fruit.

As always, I am proud of what you have become.
And yes, I will still scold you and be hard on you so that YOU will be proud of yourself in what you will become in the future.

VS Wushu, Jia you!

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