Should kids learn to Sword Fight?
We think so.
TRADITIONAL CHINESE SWORD LEAGUE YOUTH TOURNAMENT
We teach children to sword fight in traditional Chinese styles. They learn jian, dao and miaodao just like the adults. This year (2009), there were enough ready and willing to participate in a tournament. As kids fitness activities go, this has to be the ultimate. It's amazing fun and it gets them fit, flexible and coordinated. Since last year's Traditional Chinese Sword League adult tournament was the first event of its kind in over 80 years, there has probably never been one of this type for children. We did it under the banner of the T.C.S.L. We followed the same rules and format, with a few equipment modifications for the children. Equipment for the under 13's included a padded sword, while the teens used shinai.
Outline of events
Pools match in the Under 13s.
On January 10, fourteen young people wrote a new page in the history of Chinese swordsmanship by competing in the Traditional Chinese Sword League full contact Youth Tournament, before a packed audience at the Village Fitness Gym in Katoomba.
The teens division, scored by three judges and a referee, was contested by three girls and three boys. Boys and girls compete together in chinese sword fighting because it is not so much a test of strength as of strategy, agility and employing good body mechanics. Students learn to yield and neutralise, stick and follow, turn their waist while deflecting and delivering cuts, and arrive first by using small muscular hints from their opposite to anticipate the next move.
Fast action in a Tournament sword fight.
Matt O'Neill, who is in his fourth year of training in Yangjia Michuan Taiji Jian swordsmanship, seeded first and eventually won the final against his fourteen year old training partner, Aled, in a riveting three strike match. Deflecting Matt's first thrust, Aled went low with a horizontal cut. Matt avoided this and returned a decisive strike to the top of Aled's helmet. Both Matt and his coach, Linda Heenan, are looking for sponsors to assist them in competing in the adult TSCL Tournament in Montana this year. Linda has trained in swordsmanship for five years. She trained in America with some of the world's best in this style, last year, under the coaching of her teacher, Scott Rodell. Matt has attended three seminars with teacher Rodell over the last four years.
Teens sword fight in the Youth Tournament.
Clothed in gambesons, fencing masks and cricket gloves, the Under 13s each fought seven pools bouts. Endurance was a factor in the final of this division where a twelve year old girl and boy matched blow for blow in the longest sword fight of the tournament. After several close calls, the girl got in a clear and unopposed head strike to take victory.
The day concluded with a Sword Form competition. Students performed sequences of movements passed down over eight generations, in miaodao, jian and dao, These forms were the ancient textbooks written in the lives of dedicated students. They teach coordination, balance, correctness of movement and exactness of the art.
The champions in the two sword fight divisions each receive a plaque engraved with their names and the Traditional Chinese Sword League logo. Each participant receives a laminated certificate honouring their participation in what might very well be a world first for this type of swordsmanship. The first three place getters in the form competition receive an engraved medal.
It was a wonderful day - one of those times when everything went right. Referee Linda Heenan and judges Paul Wagner, Paul Eperjesi and Tashi James, positioned themselves wherever necessary to account for every strike. Although most matches were decided by a "kill", points were necessary for correct seeding towards the final elimination rounds.
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