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Elite Martial Arts
As far as elite martial arts preparation goes, my lead up to the Traditional Chinese Sword League Tournament was less than perfect. With my martial arts teacher on the other side of the world, I did my best. The results are yet to be determined. Watch this space for a summary of how that went, towards the end of June 2009.
It all began in May 2007. Conferences with my martial arts teacher generally take place by Skype, somewhere between midnight and 2am, which is early morning where he lives. During one of these, three months before the second Estonian Swordplay Festival, he explained the concept of the Traditional Chinese Sword League. He told me about a tournament to come the following year, and invited me to be part of it. I was very excited. It was a great honour to be asked, even if it meant making some gambesons. But that first year, life got in the way. It was not to be. This year is another story. Life has still got in the way, but I'm going anyway. This might be my one and only chance to enter an elite martial arts tournament and I'm going to be there no matter what.
Pre Tournament Training
This is me training with Paul Wagner, a year ago. He was helping me prepare for the tournament. He is obviously much better and in this video is using Highlander Broadsword, so I'm actually meeting his sabre with my jian. The "ouch" at 5 mins is a broken thumb. Soon after I lose my ability to grip the sword.I was back training the following week, with the thumb padded.
How Preparation for an Elite Martial Arts Tournament Should Go
Go to class every week. Get good feedback from your teacher. Train with lots of partners. Work on the skills you need to at home, between classes. Preferably be young. Being male has its advantages especially in a unisex competition. Stay as fit and healthy as you can - train well but don't overtrain to the point of injury. Work on the taiji principles necessary for good taiji swordsmanship. Have your equipment ready.
How My Preparation for an Elite Martial Arts Tournament Went
My daughter planned her marriage for the same month as the tournament, so I had to aim towards the following year instead. I injured both knees and had them operated on. I'm not young, fit, strong or male. My sensitivity to cigarette smoke expanded to anaphalectic proportions. Several kidney infections. I did work on the principles quite a lot. No training partners for the last year, although I had a really good one before that. Asthma took my breath away. I do have my equipment ready. My teacher lives on the other side of the world so I can't go to class. I did go to America last year and attended a special training retreat. That was my last lot of training so it has been very important to my preparation. I got made redundant, making travel that far really difficult. So I saved by selling books on Ebay and putting aside all one and two dollar coins. I go from winter into the heat of summer - unacclimatised, to wear heavy armour. There is no air conditioning in the tournament venue. It has rained here for the past month, so no outside training. And there's more but you've heard quite enough.....
Okay .... so what's your excuse? You can enter an elite martial arts tournament if I can. There is never a perfect time. Things go wrong. Perhaps not enough goes right. I believe in taking an opportunity when it comes. How do we know there will ever be another chance? I don't want to get to the end of my life and regret all the things I didn't do. My mother used to say I should aim for the stars. In doing that I might hit something in between. If you aim for only the moon, that's all you can possibly reach. So, I probably won't win an elite martial arts tournament. But I might win a few matches. And at least I had a go. Why not make memories for your old age. Have a go. You might win!
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