Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Master's Extravaganza

The nice picture
Originally uploaded by tommrkr
The other weekend, our club went to a regional WTSDA event: the Master's Grand Extravaganza in Valparaiso, Indiana. I know, it's a kinda funny name. In reality, it is an action packed weekend, featuring schools from Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. The weekend begins Friday night with the Fall Black Belt testing, a tournament on Saturday, and a Black belt clinic on Sunday morning.

Here's the interesting part. When the tournament ends, there is an evening show which highlights some of the events from earlier in the day. The Men's and Women's winning forms are demonstrated for the crowd, Breaking demonstrations, and the winning demo team performs again.

My favorite part, however, is from where the tournament gets its name: Master Demos. You get to see what all those folks with fancy belts can really do. Sometimes it is a skill they are known for (Master Inoshita and sword/fan, Master Ochs and Breaking) and every once in awhile, you get a neat surprise; something you may not have associated someone with. I'm one of those people who can watch Master's demonstrate their specialty all day and never get tired. I like to see how someone has put their own personal spin on a form, their own tempo and attitude. It is a rare treat for me, as the closest Master in my Association is 3 hours away! :)

Of course, I love a good show, but I also appreciate the time and effort that goes into demonstrating the craft. When I demand that my black belts start working on demos to show "their thing" this is the end goal I have for them. One day, that could be me up there, or one of my students. It has to be, or eventually we'll run out of Masters to provide demos.

I'm not a big competitor. I do reasonably well, especially in forms competition, but I don't train to win. I go to have fun and meet new people. Sometimes at open tournaments the emphasis is less on winning and more on "beating the other person." Yes, I think there is a huge difference.

That's why I like our Association events. I see the same folks several times a year. We establish a kinship when we compete with each other. We'll even give each other tips for improvement. No one is hording secrets. If we get better, our organization improves because of it.
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