We attended the 8th New England Chinese Martial Arts Championship organized by ICMAC over the holiday weekend. It was our first kung fu tournament and it was a pretty amazing experience.
The thing we noticed was that the competition had events for all skill levels and age groups! We watched young practitioners from 8 and under to masters 80 and above, all competing at the same venue. This was something we had never seen in any other sporting competition before.
International Chinese Martial Arts Championship
The ICMAC event in New England had competitions in traditional Kung Fu, contemporary Wushu, Tai Chi, Sparring, Push Hands, and Chi Sao. Medals and Grand Champion cups were awarded for advanced competitors in various forms divisions.
8 and Under
A Bit Older
As we move up the age groups, the obvious differences were the increase in complexity and polish of the forms demonstrated. Also more evident were the “sense of enemy” shown by the more skilled students of the various styles. They are not just “punching the air,” but sparring with an “invisible opponent” which was “real” for them in that moment.
Power, speed, and control were the hallmarks of the higher level ranks. Excellent external forms was expected with the more seasoned practitioners. The truly skilled were also able to demonstrated their mastery of “internal power” by expressing it via quick, smooth, and fluid movements which appears effortless…like the power at the end of a whip.
The movements, stances, and strategies of martial arts principles are the same whether one has a weapon or not. This is because weapons are an extension of the body.
There were plenty of different weapon forms demonstrated in the competition. We wanted to see them all 🙂 We saw a lot of it and all were fascinating, but there was so much going on that unfortunately it was not possible to see everything! In order to judge the various styles under the same set of rules, the weapons (swords, staffs, etc) must conform to certain specifications.
A double-axe attack is fearsome in any century. Two-knives forms are deadly for close-quarter fighting. Bigger knives? Same principles. Whether one is fighting with or without weapons, the strategies are the same…cover your openings and attack your opponent’s. “Looking good” doesn’t matter if you are dead.
Anything can be a “weapon” if properly wield…a bamboo pole or even a fan can be deadly in the hands of a trained martial artist! Of course the techniques and forms are adjusted to accommodate the specific “weapons” at hand, but again the martial principles remain the same…cover ones openings at all times, attack the opponent’s if available, resolve the conflict peacefully if possible.
The next ICMAC tournament will be in Los Angeles on August 8, 2020. Earlier registrants will get assigned a later competition time. Those interested should keep an eye here for when ICMAC will be taking registration for the LA event.