Going to be competing in my first "outside" tournament

Discussion in 'Competitors Corner' started by aaradia, Dec 21, 2016.

  1. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    I have wanted to do this for years!

    I have been doing MA's for over 12 years now. And I do my school's tournament every year. I also go to my GM's tournament when I can afford it. But I have never done a open tournament- one outside my school's federation. And I have really wanted to. I think it would be a great learning experience. That is my motivation.

    A few instructors recently went to the Las Vegas tournament. They did very well. (Check out the category second up from the bottom of this page, look for the instructor of our Sifu Don Tittle. They are also listed in other areas. I can't find a listing for the combatives, but they did well there too.http://www.kungfuchampionship.com/ratings/northamerican/2016/ratings_Traditional_HandForms.html )

    It's coming to L.A. About a week before our school's tournament. So I will already be in tournament preparation mode, so I am going to do it! I am already doing the prep, why not just add a tournament into the mix?

    Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a lot of interest among fellow students to get a group going. I was hoping for that, but I am not going to be dissuaded.

    What I want most of all, is to test my push hands skills against people trained differently. The rules are a bit different, but the instructors that went can help me with that as I prepare. And the ability to adapt is part of what I want to test.

    So, what I really hope for from my fellow MAPpers is some advice. I have never done an open tournament, so I have some ideas from here what to expect, but not totally.

    Any advice will be appreciated.

    I am planning on doing a CLF hand and weapon form. A TCC hand and weapon form, and the two types of push hands. I am not going to do the CLF sparring as they allow head contact and I just can't risk a head injury/ concussion. I need to work, I need to drive home to San Diego from L.A., go to my school's tournament the week after AND I am slowly getting ready for my CLF black sash test.

    So far, I am planning on doing Small Five Animal for my CLF hand form. My instructor and I are going to decide between the butterfly knives and the Broadsword weapon form. I really don't want to have to carry a long weapon up to L.A.

    For the TCC, I am leaning towards the 40 for my hand form. I want to do the 48 combination, but am concerned they won't like that as it mixes up elements from other styles. So I thought it best to do a strictly Yang style form. No Fajing, as some people do not understand that Yang style DOES have fajing. It is a comm on misperception about Yang style and I don't want any judge to mistakenly misjudge me based on that. Leaning towards the 54 Gim as my weapon form, Still haven't talked to my TCC teacher about this though. I will.

    Please, I am excited and nervous, and could really use advice about doing this. I hope to hear from anyone here, but Ben Gash, I particularly want to hear from you for obvious reasons.

    Oh, this is the tournament. So people have a frame of reference for what I am going to be doing. http://www.kungfuchampionship.com/los-angeles/
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2016
  2. Mushroom

    Mushroom De-powered to come back better than before.

    Treat it like any other comp you have been in.
    The venue and people are different but the moves and mentality is the same.

    Dont overwhelm yourself by blowing it out of proportion unecessarily.

    Saying that. Kick bottom and take names!

    (Cheat when you cant get caught....just saying) :)
  3. Travess

    Travess The Welsh MAPper Supporter

    Exactly what Mushroom has said - Neither the nature of the tournament nor its venue detract from what you already know, or how you already train. You are in a fantastic position, wherein it would be completely impossible for you to come away from the experience empty handed, whether that'll mean insight gained, or even possibly something shinier, is all just gravy. Take the opportunity while it is there, learn what you can from it, and be sure to open a few eyes of your own whilst you are there.


  4. ned

    ned Valued Member

    Good luck Aaradia !

    It's a good move to take yourself out of your regular surroundings and cross hands with other schools/styles.
    My advice would be make sure you're familiar with the rules and scoring etc. check the size of the matt area, prepare with some extra cardio ( even fixed ph can be surprisingly draining ) and if you can't get a training partner to compete and prepare alongside you , take some friendly support - preferably one of your instructors/sifus.

    Look forward to hearing of your success !
  5. Mitch

    Mitch Lord Mitch of MAP Admin

    Enjoy :)
  6. Frodocious

    Frodocious She who MUST be obeyed! Moderator Supporter

    Good luck! :)
  7. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    Well, the tournament is tomorrow! Today, I am going to pack up all I need, take it easy, and make myself go to bed early.

    I leave ungodly early to drive up to Pasadena.

    I am nervous and excited!
  8. Guitar Nado

    Guitar Nado Valued Member

    Good luck! Let us know how it turns out.
  9. aikiMac

    aikiMac aikido + boxing = very good Moderator Supporter

    Second, that! :happy:
  10. kandi

    kandi Valued Member

    Hope it goes well! This will be a great thing to learn from and to prepare your mind for your other tournament.
  11. Mushroom

    Mushroom De-powered to come back better than before.

    Good luck for today! Vids n pics (if you want!)
  12. dormindo

    dormindo Active Member Supporter

    Hope that all went well!
  13. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    Well, here is my report of my adventure. The good and the bad.

    Part 1 -

    First up was the start of a theme that was disappointing in the tournament. I hate to start negative, but it is what it is. The organization, or lack thereof, was an eye opener. I mean no knock on the organizers, as they put in hard volunteer hours to make this event happen.

    But my first event had me in my own division - which was really disappointing. I was the only one in advanced Yang TCC hand forms 36 and over. The web site says divisions may be merged to make enough competitors, but throughout the tournament, this was not the case. At one point, they had 4 people go, each one in their own division as the only person. I am sorry but that did not impress me at all. A tournament to me suggests COMPETITION! Why they didn't combine my division with younger people is beyond me. Or maybe men's and women's divisions. I understand why they separate men and women in sparring, but in forms it didn't make much sense to me.

    Anyways, I wasn't too happy with my performance anyways on this one. It seems like a small thing, but I wasn't used to carpet and it affected me. Shouldn't have let a small thing like that get to me. Now, that probably means I dragged my foot when I shouldn't and I get away with it on the hard floors or smooth mats at my school. But my foot caught and I was a little wobbly at the start. I settled into it after about 30 seconds to a minute, but those little things in advanced divisions can affect ones score.

    Both my instructors recently have commented on how I seem to start slow when doing tournament or test performances, and that I need to work on starting out of the gate faster. And I really saw that here.

    So, working on starting full skill right off the bat with no warming up and not dragging my feet were the lessons learned.

    Score was low. Got gold, but it doesn't count as it was a participation gold as I had no one else to compete against.

    Second event was my TCC weapon form- long gim. I should mention that the TCC forms were to be between 3 minutes and 3 minutes and 30 seconds long.

    I learned quickly from my first event and did not drag my feet. I actually felt pretty good about my performance, but still got a low score. After watching the other scores of other competitors in all sorts of divisions, I didn't mind as I think the judges were scoring TCC favoring the non-martial aspects of a form. I saw a lot of beautiful looking TCC that just wasn't martial. If that doesn't make sense, and anyone wants me to, I can explain that. That is what happens in an open tournament, the focus of the judging may not be what your school teaches.I hope this isn't coming across as a complaint, because I didn't mind.And there was a time in the past at my GM's tournament where I won a medal, but didn't think it counted due to the way it was judged. I do think I am pretty fair and even handed in my evaluations. I am good at stepping back. And it was watching other divisions, not how I was scored that made me just think the judging criteria just isn't the same as what is emphasized at my school. .

    Pfft. Two competitors and I technically got silver. Again- doesn't count if I am last or the only person. Again, I wish they combined divisions to make a decent sized division.

    No medals that count in my book. Felt good about one form, the other one re-emphasized things to work on that my instructors have told me. Good new experience to have under my belt.

    All the day I am looking at two or three rings as my divisions were up at the same time. Eh, I have done that at my school's tournaments before.

    That is my TCC forms report. Next the Kung Fu forms divisons.
    Last edited: May 1, 2017
  14. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    Part 2.

    I did a round or two of push hands and checked on the status of my Advanced traditional hand forms - 36 and over division. They said I was up.

    A tournament modified small five animal form. I actually messed up a couple of times with the sequence. But still I felt good about it, the execution of the moves I was mostly happy with, my martial intention felt good too and my stances I think were decent. My school, especially my instructor, has drilled how to fake when you mess up- to not show it in your face or body language. To make a moment of doubt about the next move look like an intended pause for dramatic affect. While I wasn't happy about messing up the sequence, I WAS happy with how I dealt with it.

    LOL! It is an open tournament, I don't think any of the judges knew the form. So they didn't even know the sequence was wrong!

    I was shocked to hear some really high scores! Super high!

    I got silver and there were 4 competitors. So, that medal counted in my mind as actually earned.

    Lessons learned. That training in handling mistakes really works! I mean, I have seen it work in my school's tournaments too.

    Also, I didn't have time to think about the form. I had to jump in without thinking and I did pretty good, despite the mistakes. This has happened to me in previous tournaments too. It is tied into the thing my instructors say about me overthinking things and it showing in my forms. How to control that. How to let go with my OCD brain. If I can figure it out it will make my martial arts look better. But how is the tricky part.

    Ran back and did more push hands. But I will talk about that in my next post.

    Ran back here and did the Bot Gwa Butterfly knives form. Didn't mess up the sequence. Felt like it went pretty well. There is some footwork in there in a couple of spots that still feel awkward to me, but overall I was happy with it. Scores reflected that too. Pretty high, not quite as high as the hand form, but pretty darn high.

    Got silver, but it was again a second of two people. So it didn't count. I saw a bit of the first place winner and she was really good.

    Nothing in particular learned for this one. Just overall experience in performing in a new environment.

    So, that is my forms report.

    1 silver that counted. Happy with my both my performances, although not perfect.

    I'll post abut my push hands events next.
    Last edited: May 1, 2017
  15. kandi

    kandi Valued Member

    Sounds like lots of personal lessons learned, which is great. I've also struggled to adapt to different flooring. Shame you didn't have more people to compete against but sadly this is normal with many MA tournaments. Overall, a great day for personal MA development though :). Congrats.
  16. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    Push hands started off really disappointing, but ended up great. I went to the table to sign up. NO ONE to do push hands. Again, the only one in both divisions. SAY WHAT? That was the main reason I drove 150 miles to do this competition- do do push hands against people trained from different schools and lineages and styles of TCC. :mad: Super disappointing!

    The person in the weight class below agreed to compete in fixed step. Well, I have an unfair advantage, but she was actually signed up and in the same boat and wanted to compete too. So I agreed.

    She did not sign up for restricted step though. And actually isn't a TCC student. Her school had them practicing push hands the last couple of months I think. But she studies 7 star praying mantis. She kindly offered to do restricted step, but I politely said no. It just felt like I had too many advantages and it wasn't fair to do the more advanced push hands. It was a discussion and she was really nice. I appreciated her offering to step up both times.

    Then the judges and offered me a medal. I asked if I could get a refund for the event instead. The getting up and doing a form at least exposed me to a new experience. But being handed a gold for literally signing up and doing nothing? Absolutely meaningless. They agreed to a refund.

    Then someone shows up in my weight class late. YAY, she had signed up the same day and wasn't on their sheets. She was a Chen style practitoner. She was one of the competitor's that didn't get a really high score (but a gold for being the only one in her division) but seemed more martial in her TCC forms. And as she was the only other female in the TCC forms that wanted to do what I call the TCC sparring- push hands. So it confirmed to me my thoughts on the judging criteria on the forms.

    So, not wanting the first person left out, we all talked again, and since there was a restricted step division, she joined in after all. The judges let her even though she hadn't signed up or paid for it, and she wasn't "needed" for me to have an opponent.

    Neither had done competitive push hands. Even the Chen style practitioner. I can't believe there weren't more people in this tournament for these events. But the Mantis person was excellent in her forms. Won a ton of gold and deservedly so. And the Chen style person was a black belt in Hapkido. So, they weren't beginning martial artists.

    It made for some interesting matches. They both had a lot of experience in martial arts overall that made them actually not like beginners. They both did really well. But they didn't know the rules.

    And neither did most of the judges! The head judge did, but the other judges were very confused by the rules and it showed when they talked to the head judge.

    It wasn't the same as playing push hands with experienced push hands people. It posed different challenges. Dealing with wild unpredictable moves, but moves based in other martial arts, not total new beginner moves. I had firm control of the matches. Never felt like I would lose, but it wasn't like beating up on beginners either. It was a challenge in a different sort of way.

    I got mauled, even though I won. One competitor kept double grabbing my arm and the judges wouldn't call it. And even though my school teaches us to not complain, I did at one point. I held out my double grabbed arm. Looked at the head judge, and asked if this was allowed now? He called it, but it kept happening. Sigh, I didn't say anything again. I didn't blame the opponent, she didn't know the rules. But the judging was flat out bad. Again, not sour grapes, as I was winning the match by a lot of points. But I do expect judges to not let blatant rules go by repeatedly.

    The other opponent did a Hapkido wrist lock on me! SO illegal! Although it was applied beautifully. Again, she just didn't know the rules. But wow! She did get a warning. My wrist is actually slightly injured, but not badly. It HURT! The judge did go over the rules with her while I had a few seconds to let my wrist recover. I also got a slight head butt to the chest that wasn't called. Who would have thought that fixed step could be so dangerous? :p I won the match by 3 or 4 points, smaller margin than the last match. She had good Chen principles even if not actual push hands experience.

    i lost two or three points in these matches because I am used to shuffling in our "fixed" step at my school. And i went to my training and then was like "nope- I can't do that!" I think I rely on my shuffling too much and that is something I will work on- alternatives to shuffling in certain situations.

    Restricted step. New rules for me.And apparently all judges beside the head one.I actually heard the judges say to each other that they didn't understand the rules in the middle of judging a match! NOT Kidding!:bang: More limited than my schools' full moving step, More allowed than our restricted step. I won this too. I wish I had applied more of the restricted step moves, but I was winning staying pretty stationary. I did some, but wish I did more. No more wrist locks, but still double grabs with pulling and holding with no calls. I dealt with it. Again, I never felt in danger of losing, but I did feel challenged.

    So it ended up being good matches. Sometimes playing people like I did -trained MAists who applied other training to their push hands - presents a unique different challenge. Hey, I said I wanted to play people outside my schools push hands style and that is what I got!

    They both got the push hands bug! They both want to study more during the year. Yay! More converts! They are both exceedingly cool people. Respectful skilled MAists. Both game to step in to give me the experience I drove up for to compete. We all got this instant bond. We will stay connected through Facebook. We chatted about being female MAists who take the martial aspect seriously. The organization has a phrase on their medals and shirts and website "friendship through martial arts" and I got that out of the experience.

    The Chen style practitioner and I went to dinner afterwards. Some fancy Brazilian steak house and salad bar. Way fancier than I usually go for. It was excellent. Good times and good company!

    Oh, that would be two gold medals that counted. 1 for fixed step and one for restricted step.

    Going to ask various instructors for ways to handle double grabs and pulls without shuffling into it. That is something new to learn.

    It was a fun experience overall. A good learning experience overall. I am glad I went.

    Will I go again? Maybe. I think I will sign up later and E-mail to see if there is enough competition in my divisions first. If there isn't, naw I probably won't go. It will depend on that.
    Last edited: May 1, 2017
  17. Late for dinner

    Late for dinner Valued Member

    Congratulations on competing and not letting the differences in how a different org runs things affect your experience too negatively. I have seen tournaments (of different sorts and different sports) over the years and rarely do you have things run smoothly. In MA there are so many disputes about what is correct form (in CLF you might argue whether the exaggeration/repetition of some movements in competition forms occur for 'show' while others might argue it is not martial and detracts from the practicality/usefulness of what you learn). I know at one comp a student was criticised for not using the vocalisations that were traditional in the branch one of the judges belonged to. Like many sports you deal with the people you have that are refereeing. In rugby we say that you play the referee as much as follow the laws of the sports. The referees word in law irrespective of what is normally seen as the correct process/procedure.

    It's a tough call about the number of competitors and whether people should be placed in groups against younger/bigger/more experienced competitors. Some like to have that experience while others become concerned about their ability to effectively compete. Participating against people who are far more experienced/skilled can be frustrating as your push hands competitors might have felt. If you are doing forms it might be tolerated but if you are doing contact sparring then it can potentially be dangerous for some involved. I personally love the chance to compete but have been in circumstances where I was outclassed and wondered why I was put in that sort of situation.

    Sounds like you had a great time overall and came away with silverware but more importantly knowledge! Well done!


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