On Sunday I competed in my third Martial Arts tournament, the National All Styles (Round 1) at Ryde Aquatic Centre. It was my second tournament in 2 weeks, after competing in the Sydney All Styles NSW-AKF tournament the weekend before.
NAS is quite a different tournament – it definitely attracted more different styles of Martial Arts, including Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido, Kung Fu, etc. The sparring is similar, but also quite different to the AKF rules. Many of the techniques that score points in NAS would never have scored in AKF events – which can make it quite challenging and make you fight in a different way than what you’re used to.
I competed in the Continuous Sparring, Forms (Kata) and Point Sparring events and apart from giving my friend Ray a bloody nose, in general I was pretty happy with how I went – coming 2nd (out of 3) in the Kata and 3rd (out of 6) in the Point Sparring.
Please read on to see more images, video and my commentary of all of my events.
My first event for the day was the Continuous Sparring in the Advanced division (5th Kyu to Black Belt – I’m currently 4th Kyu). I hadn’t competed in Continuous Sparring before, and watching the Black Belts do their Point Sparring 15 minutes before had me a little concerned 🙂
Shihan Lliam Worthington, my instructor at Black Belt Martial Arts, told me that continuous sparring is just like bag work with a moving bag. They don’t score individual techniques, they just get a feel for who scored the most points at the end of the 2 minute round.
My first round was against a talented black belt who clearly had better skills, especially with his kicking. I didn’t attack enough and copped a few kicks to the head so he would’ve easily outscored me. Image and video below.
My second round was against Ray Jenkins, a friend and black belt at BBMA. Ray had already fought in 3 rounds previous (one being a draw), as well as his point sparring – so he was a little battered and buggered already. In the first exchange of our round we both went for a lunge jab punch, with both connecting but mine doing a little more damage to his already softened nose, which then started to bleed. The fight was stopped for a few minutes while the medics attended to Ray, but when it started again it just wasn’t the same. I was too nervous to aim for his head again and I think it put both of us off the fight. You’ll see from the video below it was a pretty messy 2 minutes.
I received a warning and Ray won the match. I think he came 3rd over all (out of 5).
The continuous sparring was an interesting beast. The adult matches were pretty clean and looked just like a “free sparring” drill we do in class but with a little more effort. However watching some of the kids (14-17 yrs) do it, it was just embarrassing.
It was literally just charge at the other person throwing arms out at them. No style, no technique. Just so so messy. And the person that “attacked” won!?? Several times I saw a better technical and strategical fighter lose to someone who just kept charging at them. In the adult matches, if someone did that, a very firm reverse punch to the chest or front kick to the belly would stop them charging at you, but in the kids matches they were much stricter on contact and so there was nothing the “defenders” could do as the attacker just kept moving forward without fear. The ones who tried to fight back with too much contact received warnings and one guy was even disqualified.
It just did nothing for the sport, it looked really really bad and didn’t teach the kids anything.
I’m not sure if I’ll do continuous sparring again next time; like I said the adults was much cleaner and it was a good warmup but gee it’s tiring. Point sparring feels like it’s over in 20 seconds and continuous sparring feels like it goes for 5 minutes 🙂
After my continuous sparring, I had to wait around for several hours before my kata event, and then it came quicker than expected as they shuffled the draw around. So I wasn’t warmed up and hadn’t practised or stretched!
There was 3 of us in the Intermediate division Kata (7th Kyu to 4th Kyu), and after the three of us performed, me and another guy were in a tie for 2nd place, so we had to perform it again.
The first time I did it wasn’t that great, I didn’t stick the landing on the second kiai and rushed through it too much. So it was great to get a second opportunity where I performed it much better, sticking the landing and generally feeling more confident in the performance. It was enough to edge out the other guy, so I scored 2nd place.
The image and video below are from the first time through – the second performance wasn’t recorded.
There was 6 competitors in the Intermediate Division (7th to 4th Kyu) and the my first match was against a Hapkido guy. As with almost all point sparring matches, you never feel they ‘got you’ when a point is scored against you .. and this was no different 🙂
I won the match something like 5-3 or 5-4 to progress to the next round.
Round 2 was a very close match with both of us scoring most with reverse punches. I was down by 1 point and I knew the time was running out so I attacked but he stepped out of the ring and the technique didn’t count. Had I won that match I would’ve gone through to the 1st/2nd playoff, but by losing it I was relegated to a 3rd/4th playoff.
Round 3 was a playoff for 3rd place, against a Kung Fu fighter. It see-sawed most of the way through but the other guy was scoring on me easily and I couldn’t figure out how and why. A few times he scored with a backfist that was thrown out after a kick – something that never would’ve scored in the AKF or what we’d been taught in class.
Shihan Lliam was screaming out to me “be first” and at the time it wasn’t clicking to me what he meant – I was trying to anticipate and counter, but Shihan wanted me to attack first and not let the other guy attack first – because he was scoring with some reasonably soft techniques before my reverse punches scored.
I was down 6-7 and scored a point literally in the final seconds before the whistle blew, making it a 7-7 draw. We had to have a final 1-minute sudden death round, where the first to score would win the match. It was a pretty messy affair but I scored the last point and therefore took out 3rd place.
Kyoshi Liz said something afterwards which did hit home – and that is that I should be expecting to win that division. I didn’t really think about it before hand – I was still in the mindset that I’d be happy to compete well and wasn’t focused on what was required to actually win.
After the Sydney All Styles and then the continuous sparring before hand, my nerves were pretty well controlled so I should’ve expected more out of myself. Going forward now there really is no excuse – I’ve had enough tournament practise now that I know what’s involved and what it takes to compete well and win.
Watching the videos back I now know what Shihan means by “be first” – something I did very rarely in any of my matches, and it’s clear that in NAS scoring rules, the person that attacks first almost always scores. I also need to get some more kicks in there. I did very few kicks all day and it’s an area of my sparring that I definitely need to work on.
All in all it was a great day and another experience I can hopefully learn from and draw upon for the next tournament.
Thanks for reading.