The ground is the limit

CartazInside the Championship

(Para ler este post em Português: Se cair, do chão não passa)

10 years taking kung fu classes at Tat Wong Academies make me feel as part of a big family.
Those who grew up within a big family like me will understand what I’m talking about: huge wedding parties or annual meetings, where you meet beyond grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins also all your 2nd degree relatives, such as your parents’ uncles, aunts, and cousins… And after you reach a certain age also your whole generation has multiplied itself…

A Tat Wong Championship is more or less the same: there’re your ‘cousins’ (your day-to-day peers), your ‘parents’ and ‘uncles’ (Sifus and Sihing instructors), your ‘grandparents’ (masters), ‘2nd degree uncles and cousins’ (Sifus, Sihings and athletes from other academies), and there’re also your distant relatives – those folks who come from other states (Natal) or countries (Chile and United States). And of course there’re always the ‘aggregates’ which are people from buddies academies.

There’s not enough time to chat with everyone, just say hello and give a hug, wish good luck, quickly get to know the last updates about your friends between a hot-dog and another, everyone is a little nervous because they’re going to perform or compete or fight shortly, but anyway you feel happy to be there among all those loved ones.
To watch the opening performances is awesome – I need to say that this year they were absolutely breathtaking!!! Bleachers totally crowded, the public got cMaster-Wong1atched by the rythm of the drums and the colors of the costumes of the traditional lion’s dance , and the grace of their movements filled our eyes. Next there were the experts’ exhibitions: Sifus, Sihings and Masters offering their best techniques perfoming agile and accurate hands and weapons routines. And the audience raves when the great Grand Master Tat Mau Wong closes the solemnity with his act!

And then the forms competitions begin: infantile, juvenile, adult, senior, male, female, beginner, intermediate, advanced, hands forms, short guns, long guns, … There are categories for everyone, only those who want to stay out. There are four areas of competition happening simultaneously so you must be very careful not to lose any of your friends performing! For some of them you shout their names out loud in order to encourage them but to others you just hope quietly not to devolve them. And from time to time you may warm up in the parking lot outside the gym because after all you too are there to compete…

It’s finally your turn to perform and your mouth gets dry. Hands wet, you feel as if your heart was beating inside your mouth. Your heartbeat triggers while your vision gets a bit blurred. What comes to your mind is the desire to get out of there running without looking back. ‘Why am I even here?‘ Breathe, breathe, breathe. You look into the stands and see your friends doing signs of strength for you. One of the referees calls your name. You take another deep breath. Kin Lai, you run into the middle of the mat, greet the table, and assume your position. Breathe. Courage. You start. You try to remember everything. Markings. ‘Is my posture low enough?‘ ‘Up right knee, is the kick defined?’Is the height of the knock right?‘ ‘Oh Gosh should this panther-punch hit the throat or the eye? How should it be??‘ Don’t drop your performance!! You hear someone shout your name out there in the audience. Caution not to confound now! From the corner of

Photograph: André Nigro Andrade –
Photograph: André Nigro Andrade –

your eye you see your Sifu right there aware of what you are doing, rooting for you to do well and not miss anything. Hurricane-kick, sao choi, dat choi, biu jon, creeping, serpent, remember to show the ball of your foot doing the front kick, rotate your hip when doing the knife kick, always glance toward the coup, jump, spin, be careful not to overbalance!! Lah, crossing, knife-hand, kin lai, double dat choi, shut! You hear applauses – ‘Are they for me???‘ Look for the referee. Kin Lai. ‘That’s it! I got it!!!‘ You wait for the final score from the referees. Thanks. Owwww!! ‘Did I win?!?!? Did I???‘ Mission accomplished. It’s time to relax, have a soda and eat a hot dog! (* Sorry if I messed up the names of kung fu moves, Cantonese is definitely not my specialty…)

But yet it’s not time to leave because there is still more to come! During the afternoon happen the sanda combats (kickboxing), which is the kung fu sportive fight. Your friends worked really hard during the past months and need your support! Each fight lasts 3 rounds of three minutes each, but the tension is so big that they seem endless … ‘Go Si-hiiiiing!!‘ ‘Grab him, don’t dropp it!‘ ‘Keep your fists high, kick, kick, kiiiiiiick!‘ ‘Turn, turn! Punch him!‘ ‘Wow, go, go, go upon him! Uh-huh!!‘ Winning or losing doesn’t matter, athletes are given a standing ovation by the audience at the end whatever the outcome is. The simple fact of having had the courage to step into the ring to face the challenge already makes them champions!

Is it over??? Noooooo!!! You don’t want to miss the tri-star competition! Only graduated black belts compete in this modality, and each one of them need to perform three different forms, which they are alowed to choose between free-hands and long, medium, short or articulated weapons. Now this is only for the best ones!!!

Photograph: André Nigro Andrade -
Photograph: André Nigro Andrade –

And next…. Next the ring gets on fire! There are the Super-Fights to end the tournament. For those who are not familiarized a super-fight is more or less like a sanda combat where fighters don’t wear protection equipments (helmet, chest shield, shin guard), just gloves and mouthguard. Only fighters with the highest technical level enroll. It’s pretty nice to watch these fights because the precision of the blows is impressive! Yet there’s a high knockout risk, and it is not unusual athletes get hurt… Go Guilhermeeeee!!! And our 2011 Brazilian Champion closes the evening triumphant once again!!!

Congrats to all athletes and spectators! I’m very thankfull to Masters Tat Mau Wong and Francisco De Paula, Sifus Silvia Bianchi, José Luiz Balestrini, Rodrigo Seixas, Carlos Collao Vega, Enrique Ortega, and all Sihings and Sijehs who worked so hard to turn this big event into reality!

Time to go back home and have a shower. I’m already longing for next year’s tournament!!!

Did you like the photographs? You’ll find the complete coverage of the event at André Nigro Andrade website. Until next time!


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