From 12-13 July 2013, Tiger Rock Martial Arts International held its World Championships in New Orleans Louisiana. Our small school of roughly 40 students in New Cumberland Pennsylvania, sent a team of five students and the head instructor to the prestigious event, held in the New Orleans Convention Center.
What follows is a basic overview of the events that occurred from my perspective as an instructor and school owner. The praise is honest and heartfelt and I could not be more proud of how we did as a school in our first ever World event as our own academy. That being said, there are still areas in which we can improve. Both myself as an instructor and student of the art, as well as my students. My critiques are also honest. Here we go.
Mrs. Keeton: Our first medalist of the event. ECAS. Initially, she was not going to do ECAS, since we did not bring official ECAS gear with us for her (the tournament officials are sometimes funny about that). However, the official said she could do ECAS in her regular sparring gear, so she went ahead and did it.
Her first match was a unanimous decision win. Her second match was also a unanimous victory. She lost her third match in a split decision, which meant she would be going for the Bronze medal.
It was a VERY close Bronze medal match. However Mrs Keeton came out on top with a split decision win by adhering to rule #1, ALWAYS KEEP YOUR HANDS UP!!! Way to go!
Things to work on: Timing and power in forms and getting her kicks up in sparring, and Board Breaking!
Jacob Puliti: Entering the event as his first tournament experience, Jacob seemed VERY nervous. His form was a little off as far as the stances go but his power, timing, and overall presence earned him a bronze medal.
Jacob also had a bout of nerves when it came to sparring. In his first match he quickly found himself down 5-1! However, he overcame his fear and nerves and two quick kicks to the head later (one of which was a VERY nice spin crescent) he came back to tie it. In the closing seconds, he stuck to the game plan (can’t tell you what that is, in case other instructors are reading this) and scored the final point to win 6-5. In his next matches he pitched a 6-0 shutout and a 4-3 victory against a VERY quick competitor from Tuscaloosa Alabama, earning him the Gold Medal in Rank Sparring!
Things to work on: Get over the nerves and stick your stances in the form and Board Breaking.
Elias Clayton: Also a first timer to the tournament scene, Elias also had a bout of nerves early on. However, his stances were spot on and his timing was near perfect. His kicks were nice and high and the competition could have gone either way. In this instance, he came out with the Silver Medal.
When it came to sparring, Elias’ kicks were absolutely beautiful. His kick combos were EXACTLY what we have been working on in addition to the overall game plan (again, I can’t say what that is). His first match ended 6-5 in a close kick off. His second match had him losing two points for illegal contact and thus the match. In the Bronze medal match, he again showed great kick combos and won 4-3. He probably could have had more points if he had punched more but a medal is a medal and a win is a win. We’ll take it.
Things to work on: Punch more when you are in close and board breaking!!
Hanna Keeton: Our youngest competitor at 7 years old, Hanna showed GREAT poise for a little girl in such a big event. Let me tell you, this was a TOUGH ring. Due to the number of participants in the green belt level, she was placed in a ring with both boys and girls who were much older and WAAAAYYY taller than she was.
In forms, she was very good and there was a three way tie for 3rd place. After the sudden death run off (they all did their forms again), she finished in 4th place in a field of thirteen 7-10 year old green belts. As an Instructor, I am very proud of her effort in forms.
If I was proud of her effort in forms as an Instructor, I was doubly proud of her effort in sparring as a Father. After winning her first match 6-5 by sticking to the game plan, she found herself down in her second match 5-3. With good punching after getting in close, she came back to win 7-5. Her third match was tough. She was paired with a 10 year old boy who was (literally) a foot and a half taller than she was. She never let it stop her. She kept kicking and was able to score on him twice but it was not enough. She lost her match 7-2. In the Bronze medal match she was paired up against a little girl her size and age and it was even down to the wire. In a clash that could have been scored either way (as a matter of fact, one judge scored it for her and two for the other girl), the match ended at 7-6 and she finished in 4th place.
She also participated in the obstacle course and usually does very well at it. However, the results from the (literally) thousands of competitors who ran it haven’t been released yet. We THINK she may have gotten a Bronze (with the bonus kicks, she was under 10 seconds!) but we’ll see when the results come out!
Things to work on: Sticking to the game plan throughout EVERY match and board breaking!!
Adrena Keeton: Another TOUGH ring to be in. Boys and girls were once again paired up in the Red Belt ring. Adrena’s grace, power and timing put her in a four person tie for 2nd place. After the run off, she finished with a Bronze.
For sparring, she let her adrenaline get to her and got off course from the game plan a little, and lost 5-4 to the competitor who would eventually win the gold medal in the event. A valiant effort nonetheless.
Things to work on: Sticking to the game plan and board breaking!!
Mr. Keeton: I have saved the harshest criticism for myself. This was the first tournament in which I did not earn a medal. Every match I lost was against guys I had beaten before. Something was just off. I now know why school owners seldom compete. We spend so much time coaching our students, we lose time for ourselves. It showed in my performance this time.
In forms, I thought my stances were good and my power and timing were right on but the judges felt otherwise and I ended up in 4th place in a field of 12 adult 1st Degree black belt men.
In sport sparring, my first two matches went well. I won the first one 6-4 and the second match was ended when my opponent struck out. The third match was a toss-up. It could have gone either way. As in Hanna’s case, the final clash could have gone either way but it didn’t go mine. I lost 5-4. I was brought back for the bronze medal match and scored a GREAT (if I do say so myself) number 2 round kick to the head that Chuck Norris himself would have been proud of. Our photographer (my other daughter Teresa) actually got a shot of it right at the point of impact. It looks awesome. My ego is telling me to post it on the internet somewhere so you’ll probably see it soon. However, as cool as it looked and felt, I lost the match 4-3 and ended in 4th place.
The next thing I participated in was ECAS. I have medaled in this event EVERY time I’ve done it so I was feeling confident. My confidence was boosted in the first round when I was paired against a martial artist I had beaten three times before in this very event. However, in a split decision, I lost in the very first round. Things just weren’t going my way.
I figured that I had one more shot in the open sparring competition (continuous sparring minus punching to the head). You’ve got 45 seconds to score as many points as you can and they don’t stop the action except for injuries and once a competitor scores five strikes. It’s fast and furious.
I won my first match 33-27 and my second match 23-20. In the third match I was paired up against one of my former instructors, Mr. Groce, a 3rd Degree from Marietta Georgia. Mr. Groce is a crafty little devil. You’ll find out why a little later.
Feeling VERY worn out after point sparring and open sparring we were both sucking wind pretty hard and he came out on top 21-18.
My Bronze medal match was against a superb physical specimen from Texas. The guy was just jacked. However, he was also sucking as much wind as I was. We both needed to do more cardio. At the last second (literally), he threw a kick that scored for him and he won 18-17, so once again I finished in 4th place.
I looked up and saw that Mr. Groce was now positioned in the Gold Medal match. He looked like he was about to pass out from dehydration! However, when the judge said “fight!” he launched into a series of kicks and punches that would have made the best Hyper athlete envious. He had played us all! He showed that he was tired and we let that dictate our performance thinking that we could hold back and get past him. He always pulled it out at the end though. This time, he let loose for 45 continuous seconds of fury. It was beautiful to watch, even if it did make us mad at ourselves for not seeing his game plan earlier. Well played Mr. Groce but we will not fall for it again!
Parting comments: I am EXTREMELY proud of the effort that was put forth at our first World event. We ALL need to do better in board breaking. Expect more of that in the future.
The rest of Tiger Rock is coming on board with Weapons VERY quick. Our game needs to improve if Tiger Rock adds weapons forms to the tournament and we send someone to the World event next year.
Our sparring game plan, when adhered to, worked like a charm! I don’t think anyone noticed what it was we were doing, so I am not anticipating a counter to it any time soon. We’ll find out at Nationals in November.
Speaking of the next tournament, it is scheduled to be held in November, over Veteran’s Day weekend, in Cary, North Carolina. This will be a National event. Not as big as the World event by a LONG shot, but still a great experience for everyone who goes to it. We’d like to see max participation at this one. Make your plans now!
In the meantime, for all of our competitors, take a day or two off if you want. Realx and enjoy the progress you have made. After that, get back on the mat! I’ll see you there!
About Tiger-Rock Martial Arts International
Tiger-Rock Martial Arts s a National franchising company providing health, skills and fitness training through its franchisees’ Martial Arts programs for members of all ages. Our programs enrich their personal and professional lives in many ways. Tiger-Rock programs are a blend of modern sport science, the latest research, and hundreds of years of martial arts tradition to provide you with the most effective experience available.