I recently returned from the WTSDA World Championships, held in Orlando, Florida. We had a massive turnout from many countries around the world. It was amazing to see so many people uniting for a FRIENDLY martial arts tournament. Listening to 1500-2000 people lined up together and performing punch exercises is a very breathtaking and amazing experience.
I was lucky to be one of the staff photographers for the event, which essentially gave me free run of the facility to take pictures of competitors, Masters and more. I probably snapped around 2000 pictures over the course of the weekend, which means I got about... 4 good ones. So while I didn't compete, I still ended up learning a lot about timing and competition.
An interesting thing about shooting an event like this is that you get to see everything, but you don't really see any of it. I couldn't tell you much about the forms or matches I shot because I was focused on my own timing. Even a good picture doesn't tell me too much about the person's form, it just tells me how they looked for 1/160th of a second.
I haven't had time to fully digest the experience, so I will post just a few highlights from the weekend.
- Getting to see my instructors and their baby for the first time.
- Taking out my earplugs to listen to the entire group line up and kihap together.
- Watching a hard-fought match between 2 men who didn't speak the same language, ending with smiles and an embrace.
- Bagpipes. Nuff said.
- Happy kids with their medals getting an autograph from Grandmaster Shin.
- Seeing the Grand Champions of a WORLD organization being from the US, UK, Puerto Rico and Mozambique!
- Watching as my students volunteered their time to work at the merchandise table so others could enjoy the tournament.
- Seeing the enthusiasm of the international instructors as they worked with Senior Master instructors.
- Getting lost in the advice Master Strong was dispensing when I should have been taking pictures. :)
That being said, there were a small handful of people who took competing for the big trophy way too seriously. There were some hurt feelings and some very poor attitude displayed that was not true to the purpose of us getting together. I blame it on youth and rashness, and I hope as they get a little older they see more value in my points listed above than a silly (albeit very nice looking) cup.
In all, I had an excellent time, and the tournament reminded me of why I'm proud to be part of the WTSDA.