Tiger Claw Elite Championship 2014 Part 1 – Recap
Updated 5/27: Videos of Kathy added below
Kathy Yang made her comeback after more than 10 years out of the competition scene and represented herself, YMAA, and female practitioners everywhere with strength, spirit, grace, and humility. She was nervous beforehand and I’m happy for her, for what she overcame and brought to the competition.
As for me, it does not get worse than last place! But that doesn’t matter and I’ll explain in Part 2. First, a recap:
Our division (advanced women age 18-39) had only 3 competitors: Kathy is from Boston, I’m from a mountain in Humboldt Country, and the tournament took place in northern California – where there are no shortages of martial arts schools. Where are all the female Traditional Chinese Martial Arts competitors? I’d really like to see more women on the circuit.
Women (18-39) Advanced Division Results:
- Southern Fist: 1st – Megan Wong
- Northern Fist: 1st – Kathy (Gong Li Quan). 2nd – Megan. 3rd – Me (Shi Zi Tang)
- Short Weapon: 1st – Kathy (San Cai Jian). 2nd – Megan. 3rd – Me (San Cai Jian)
- Long Weapon: 1st – Kathy (Qi Mei Gun)
(Kathy qualified to compete for Grand Champion and performed Xiao Hu Yan/Beng Bu and lost by 0.0001 point. I wonder how many decimals they go to before they call it a tie…)
When competing with sequences, don’t use the results as a measuring stick for your ability. Tournaments are tools to help you become a better martial artist, competitor, and human being. Use the experiences to help you grow. Dr. Yang says, “When you win, you lose and when you lose, you win.” Some people quit after they win, either because they are content or afraid to lose the next time. Some people lose and develop a stronger drive to improve themselves.
Why it doesn’t matter:
- Maybe you were nervous and didn’t perform your best. It’s a snapshot of your training, not your overall career as a practitioner so don’t be too hard on yourself. On the other hand, maybe your performance was mediocre while your competitors got nervous or finished under the minimum time limit and lost more points. It’s all relative.
- Your competitors usually train different styles under different teachers who emphasize different qualities. The foundation should be the same, but judges aren’t always familiar with all styles and sometimes may not be able to help being a little biased.
- Sequences are subjective to the viewer. We don’t score goals, win points, or race for the quickest time. Some sequences are more difficult than others. Traditional judges should look for root, power, body structure, sense of enemy, and spirit as a foundation. However, different judges look for different qualities.
Why it does matter: On the other hand, if your ring has judges who look for the same qualities as you do, their opinions may matter to you more.
I understand it’s difficult to have fair and consistent judging throughout a tournament and each person’s assessment of fairness will vary, but I did have some issues with my ring. We were supposed to have 5 judges, but we lost 2 after lunch for the 18+ divisions. Some of the other rings were also lacking in judges by mid afternoon. The judges also should’ve used a wider spread (advanced division is 9.00 – 9.99). For Northern Fist, all 3 judges gave me 9.97, 2nd place 9.98, and Kathy 9.99. Our performances and sequences were very different by much more than 100th of a point. The scores were also too generous, never going below a 9.96 for our division even though there is a lot of room for improvement. These are some of the reasons why you can’t take martial arts competitions too seriously.
Having said that, I was at one of the judges’ meetings (accompanying Judge Jon), and the organizers did say to use a wide range. Also, not every judge at the tournament was so generous. Again, it’s difficult to have fair and consistent judging so I certainly don’t hold any ill feelings towards the organizers or the judges themselves.
To be continued…