Friday, January 26, 2018

Three of our assistant instructors tested for Shodan in Kobudo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Congratulations to our new Kobudo Black Belts here at Hidden Sword

On November 18th 2017 three of the Hidden Sword assistant instructors took their shodan (1st degree black belt) exam in Kobudo.  In January of 2015 they started the AKATO class with 35 students who were all brown belts to multi degreed black belts.   Over the course of almost three years they took their green belt exam, their brown belt exam and finally now their black belt exam.  All of the while the class kept shrinking.   In the end there were eight women and seven men taking the exam.

Jackie Bradbury was a shoe in for the class, Kimberly was 11 years old (truthfully, I thought she was 12) so I had to ask special permission for her to attend since the requirement was the student was a brown belt and 13 years old.   Both Jackie and Kimberly had been training in the Kobudo class at Hidden Sword for over a year so GM Proctor and GM Yates allowed Kimberly to join.   After the first year Tomas who had since rejoined our HSMA program was allowed to also start the AKATO Kobudo program.   Tomas had been working with our Kobudo students during the year so while he had some slight catching up he practiced hard in between the AKATO classes and kept up in the class.

Tomas, Jackie, and Kimberly all worked very hard getting ready for the black belt exam often times spending several hours a week on the material.  For this exam they had to know and demonstrate several drills, one steps, and several kata.   The kata or forms were more numerous than in the past classes; for the Bo (staff) there were 3 kata, for sai there were 2 kata, for tonfa (rice grinder) there were 2 kata, and for the nunchaku (flail) there were 2 kata.

Over all Tomas, Jackie, and Kimberly all had a good exam since they were well prepared.  Jackie for the most part took on the leadership role encouraging and really working with both Kimberly and Tomas.   Tomas would spend the hour before our arnis class working on his material or stay after and work.   In the end Kimberly who was the youngest and smallest student starting the class was mentioned by GM Proctor as having the best test over all.

I’m proud to have these students/assistant instructors here at Hidden Sword, while we aren’t the home of former “World Champions” like some schools in our area advertise, our assistant instructors have been a good example for our students in other ways; like having strong work ethic, and continuing to train and explore other martial arts. 

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Congrats to Kaitlyn for taking 1st place in Weapons Kata at the 2017 AKATO tournament

Congrats to Kaitlyn for taking first place in weapons at the AKATO Invitational tournament

I am thrilled when our students do good at tournaments.  At the outset I must state that we are not a tournament focused school; this year we only went to three, and I’m proud of the all of the students who participate in them.   We participated in three because it gives our students chances to test themselves in a venue outside of our school, yet I’m not going to subject my students to the circus. 

I forget who I heard this name “The Circus” (when referring to “Open” tournaments) from but the last time couple of times we (as a school) went to an open tournament the name fit.   We saw people throwing swords into the air only to catch them as they screamed KIIIIIIIIIIIIIAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!   People were twirling their swords between their fingers as others were hooping and a hollering as they back flipped and landed in the splits.  Seriously, I even saw one guy actually squat down in front of the head referee (like he was going to the bathroom) where he then reached behind himself to toss his kama upwards in between his legs only to catch it again with the same hand in front of this crotch.   Seeing this kind of behavior, I thought I’m going to lose more students than have students who want to compete in these tournaments so now we only go to three tournaments where are students are competing apples to apples.

The first tournament is the Monica Lopez Cancer Benefit tournament, which all of the proceeds go to a family whom cancer has touched and impacted.  The second is the Hearts for Honduras tournament where all of the proceeds go to help fund a mission trip to Honduras.   The last is the biggest, which is the AKATO Invitational Tournament.  In all three we compete against other like-minded schools so our students are competing apples to apples instead of against performance artists.   Now let me be clear here I'm not saying these performance artists aren't skilled or talented. I just don't find anything martial "of or relating to war, war like" in someone squatting like they are going to the bathroom and tossing a toy up between their legs, or someone throwing their demo sword in the air catching it and posing to scream their head off and call attention to themselves.   We can't compete with that cause I won't teach my students to do that. 

At the 2017 AKATO Invitational tournament several of our students entered in the Kobudo (weapons) division.   Because it was a small division they lumped our kids into the adult division.  So Kaitlyn (10 yrs old and a red belt), Kennan (8 yrs old and a 3rd brown), Gabriel (10 yrs old and a red belt), and Kimberly (14 yrs old and a black belt) ended up all competing against four adults three of which were black belts and one red belt.

Kaitlyn and Kimberly
Kaitlyn took first place performing a combination kata of two Modern Arnis stick forms (form 1 and 3).   One of the senior instructors (the head judge.) came up to me afterwards and said Kaitlyn moved “so smoothly from her center”.   That was much nicer than hearing that she really threw her bolo high in the air, or that he was impressed with how loud she yelled (KKKIIIIIAAAAAA!!!!), etc. etc.  Kaitlyn even beat out her sister Kimberly who performed a traditional Bo kata.   Kaitlyn’s form wasn’t the hardest by any stretch of the imagination, it wasn’t the longest, she certainly didn’t demonstrate the most power (she’s 10 competing against adults).  Kaitlyn simply demonstrated her form with a training bolo the way the bolo should be used and she was judged on that as opposed to some act of showmanship.

Good job Kaitlyn you represented Hidden Sword well.   While Kaitlyn did beat out adults in this division she did go on to medal, or place, in both sparring and empty hand kata competing against other juniors that were her rank and age.