January 15

Upcoming Event: Galesburg Academy of Martial Arts Invitational Tournament on April 26, 2014

Contrary to the name, this tournament is actually an open event, according to the Facebook event.

2014 Galesburg Academy of Martial Arts TournamentThe 2014 Galesburg Academy of Martial Arts Invitational Tournament begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 26, and features grappling, forms, weapons and sparring.

Costs start at $25 for one event and go up to $50 for all four events.

Awards will be given for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places.

For a complete competitor packet, please visit this link.

Registration is only available online – in other words, no registration at the door.

The Taekwondo Times will be on hand covering the event.

If you have any questions about this event, please contact Master Aaron Wayne-Duke at 309-299-5845.

Mr. Bockler’s Commentary

This, I believe, is the first-ever tournament put on by Mr. Duke. I would be delighted to take students to this event. Five years ago, Mr. Duke brought a contingent of students to our first-ever tournament, and did so when we held two more after that. There is nothing more I’d like to do than be able to help return the favor.

Personally, the character of Mr. Duke is unparalleled. He was one of the first to help my family after the tornado devastated several of their homes on Nov. 17, 2013, bringing an abundance of T-shirts and chotchkies for the kids, among other things. His students are lucky to have such a good person as an instructor.

Let’s help Mr. Duke have a successful tournament!

January 8

Upcoming Event: Auvenshine’s Taekwondo 15th Annual Martial Arts Tournament – March 15, 2014

Register for Auvenshine's Taekwondo 15th annual martial arts tournamentAuvenshine’s Taekwondo of Auburn, Ill., is hosting its 15th annual open martial arts tournament at Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield on Saturday, March 15, 2014.

Events include forms, sparring and grappling. Black belt forms grand champions will be crowned in both junior and adult divisions.

Entry fees are $40 for one event, $45 for two events and $50 for all three.

Registration goes from 8-10 a.m., with opening ceremonies starting at 10:30.

Concessions are available. All school owners, instructors, judges, referees, timers and scorekeepers will be provided lunch.

The school with the most registered competitors will be awarded a plaque.

For a complete list of rules, divisions and awards, please download the tournament packet.

If you have any questions about this event, please contact Masters Bill or Patty Auvenshine at Auvenshine’s School of Taekwondo using the phone number 217-438-6118.

Mr. Bockler’s Commentary

I’ve attended this tournament more often than not over the past seven years. It’s a great tournament for beginning students, or students who have not had much tournament experience. The judges and officials guide everyone through the competition with ease. Plus, it’s not too terribly far from home.

Joshu Adair Rodriguez, Deshi Adam Bockler and Miss Caitlan Rohman at Auvenshine's tournament in 2011

Mr. Adair Rodriguez, Mr. Adam Bockler and Miss Caitlan Rohman at Auvenshine’s tournament in 2011

This tournament always helps kick off to competition season. I’m happy to help coach any of our students to get ready for this tournament, and I’ve definitely got it on my calendar this year.

May 9

Results from 2013 North American Grand Nationals in Rockford

This past Sunday, three Metamora Martial Artists competed in Rockford at the North American Grand Nationals.

Zoe Durand competed in forms. Faith Robertson competed in forms and sparring. I competed in forms, as well. None of us placed in those divisions.

I did, however, place 2nd in weapons as a result of performing Soken Bo San.

This tournament was tough. On the trip home, I thought about why, and I came up with three reasons. One, this tournament featured creative forms mixed in with traditional forms. Two, many divisions contained anywhere from 6-12 people, so in order to place, the competitors really had to work. And three, the competitors were polished in each division.

Metamora Martial Arts competitors at the North American Grand Nationals

Mr. Bockler, Faith Robertson and Zoe Durand

I knew placing wasn’t going to be easy for any of us. So instead of focusing on “winning vs. losing,” like I’ve heard so many teachers and parents do at these events (I overhead one parent/instructor tell his son/student to get out there and compete, but in a phrasing not suitable for this blog), I had the students focus on making it a learning experience. I wanted them to see how focused their competitors performed, with various levels of intention, and how to pick out grace, power and speed.

Master Ben Pedrick, who promoted the event, did a great job of keeping everyone going that day. He buzzed around throughout the venue, and was usually nearby when judges needed a confirmation or when some other issue came up. He and his school, Star Martial Arts Studios, deserve a big hand for running an expedient and fair event.

Winning and losing does not matter to me. What matters is that our group learned some valuable lessons about competition. And in that sense, we all won.

April 4

Getting Ready for the North American Grand Nationals May 5 in Rockford

Metamora Martial Arts students are gearing up for the North American Grand Nationals in Rockford, Ill., in just over a month, May 5.

North American Grand Nationals martial arts tournamentTonight, the students asked me to help them prepare for this martial arts tournament. I, of course, was excited. After I placed first at the AKA Grand Nationals in Feburary, I’ve been itching to take some students to a tournament.

I’ve only been to this tournament once before, in 2006, six days before I tested for my first-degree black belt. I won first place in forms with Go Pei Sho.

I’m sure our students will do great. Over the next few weeks, I’ll make several posts on how to make the most out of a martial arts tournament.

Next week, we will do a drill where we run out forms for power, speed, grace and finally, a combination of all of them. Students should have picked out a form they want to use to compete with at the North American Grand Nationals.

Info on the North American Grand Nationals

According to the PDF, the event will be held at the Best Western Clock Tower Resort & Conference Center in Rockford, Illinois.

The entry fee is $50 for pre-registered events, or $70 at the door. Spectator fees are $10. All 1st place competitors win a 4-foot trophy.

Registration begins at 9. The tournament begins at 12 p.m.

I would suggest leaving Metamora around 8, giving us plenty of time to make it before the black belt judges meeting.

Preparing for a Martial Arts Tournament

The main tip to competing in a martial arts tournament is preparation. Students will need to practice their form daily in the weeks leading up to the competition. One hasn’t competed in 2-3 years. Another has never competed.

I want to make sure students and parents know that I’m less concerned with how they place (i.e., what trophies they bring home) than with how much effort they put into practicing their forms.

Own the Ring

Another tip is to be confident. In other words, own the ring. I want to point toward my article I wrote several years ago on owning the ring during a competition.

For that minute you’re competing with your form, all eyes are on you. Make it count.

For those two minutes (or however long) your sparring match lasts, get the first point. If you don’t get the first point, get the next two. If you don’t get the first two, get the next three.

This Month in History

Eight years ago today, Mr. Chianakas put on our first of three open martial arts tournaments, drawing more than 100 competitors from around Illinois. The next year we had nearly the same amount. Check out this post on April in Metamora Martial Arts’ 11-year existence.

Basic Class

In the basic class, we reviewed middle block, uppercut punch and vertical punch, as well as horse stance and front stance. We learned corkscrew punch for the first time, noting that the actual “corkscrew” does not begin until the fist touches the opponent.

January 28

Learn to visualize

I can’t stress this enough. Learn to visualize.

For one, visualizing helps us see what we’re doing. When we’re performing a kata, we’re not just throwing our arms and legs wildly into the air. In our minds, our intent should be to picture attackers in our mind who intend to hurt us. It is our responsibility to make sure that does not happen. We shouldn’t just memorize a series of movements.

Secondly, visualizing helps us see where we are going. This is how we make it through the form. Think to yourself if you’ve ever been doing a form, had a brainfart, and forgot where you were in the movements. There’s a good chance you thought to yourself, “This isn’t the right place for me to be in. I know where I need to be for my next movement, and this isn’t going to help me get there.”

In some respects, we should be exhausted after performing a kata because, in our minds, we have just eliminated several attackers that wanted to cause us harm. We’ve fought a handful of attackers in a matter of 45 seconds.

I was inspired to write this post today after an article I read at YMAA. Yang’s Martial Arts Association has been around since the 1980s, and YMAA is a leading publisher in the martial arts industry. The article caught my eye because it focused on tai chi chuan, an art I’ve practiced now for a year and a half. But even though karate and tai chi chuan come from different traditions, the methods of visualization the two use are very similar:

“Even when you can do the form very well, it may still be dead. To make it come alive you must develop a sense of enemy. When practicing the solo sequence, you must imagine there is an enemy in front of you, and you must clearly feel his movements and his interaction with you. Your ability to visualize realistically will be greatly aided if you practice the techniques with a partner. There are times when you will not use visualizations, but every time you do the sequence your movement must be flavored with this knowledge of how you interact with an opponent. The more you practice with this imaginary enemy before you, the more realistic and useful your practice will be. If you practice with a very vivid sense of enemy, you will learn to apply your qi and jin (power) naturally, and your whole spirit will melt into the sequence. This is not unlike performing music. If one musician just plays the music and the other plays it with his whole heart and mind, the two performances are as different as night and day. In one case the music is dead, while in the other it is alive and touches us.” —Dr. Yang as quoted by David Silver, Yang Tai Chi for Beginners, Jan. 30, 2012