European Sport Karate Competitors Continue to Evolve
As the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has increasingly restricted international travel, I have developed a new appreciation for the ability to travel abroad. Just a few short months ago I traveled to the Irish Open with Team Paul Mitchell Karate to host a seminar and compete at the event. I've personally been teaching seminars and private lessons at the Irish Open for six years now. The first year that I traveled there, coaches and fellow competitors informed me that the level of difficulty in the creative and extreme divisions was similar to that of the United States back in the 90's, when doing backflips and throwing weapons was first becoming popular in competition. I couldn't help myself but to try to figure out why this was the case, and do my best to help teach these competitors the more difficult techniques.
<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vbWVkaWEucmJsLm1zL2ltYWdlP3U9JTJGcHJveHklMkZQX25wLWVPRkxGQXpGTkc4R3JJbzlhZkNUZnJ6bmNDaGRiNmFNRVpOQmlGSGRjWUZMOUFEbGVjV1hVcWhFSUJBcXU3UEpKQm9OR3Y4YXlTaDVnb29SSTVQbVV0QzhpcW10cUFLTndkUkR5QU9kbFROYmUtUUZuVlFOeDhiMGRta2s5eE0maG89aHR0cHMlM0ElMkYlMkZsaDMuZ29vZ2xldXNlcmNvbnRlbnQuY29tJnM9MzA5Jmg9ZWY3MTcyNjQwM2M1MTZjY2FlMDkyMjMyYjkzZDBhZjdiZTZlNzdjZGVmMGFjYjg4OTY3ZTQwMDZlYTdmN2M1ZCZzaXplPTk4MHgmYz05OTQ0NTE4OTQiLCJleHBpcmVzX2F0IjoxNjUxODE0MTgwfQ.rk5kah2A6q7hIn304TfmqSCbU2HvpJ-7G6eIPwjfQiI/img.jpg" id="5bbed" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c8c59c9ff1a35744f3a89d8ce273dfe3" alt="Irish Open Tatami" />
<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://blackbeltmag.com/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzMwNzE0MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMjI4NjY3Nn0.tBux4zRKA7hr9H3nGq_CQsEq2lqgiqfMIlH3NCi_tGI/image.jpg?width=980" id="e8fe1" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7ee160c272bd0d15721e5802a46f8f93" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Jon Valera of NASKA on ESPN2" />
SportMartialArts.com on Instagram: “Team Paul Mitchell hosted a masters forms and weapons seminar last night before the Irish Open! Top competitors Danny Etkin, Aidan…”<div id="a3945" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b07043ea7f8687e366ea012dfe00ee74"><blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned data-instgrm-version="4" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);"> <div style="padding:8px;"> <div style=" background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;"> <div style=" background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAAGFBMVEUiIiI9PT0eHh4gIB4hIBkcHBwcHBwcHBydr+JQAAAACHRSTlMABA4YHyQsM5jtaMwAAADfSURBVDjL7ZVBEgMhCAQBAf//42xcNbpAqakcM0ftUmFAAIBE81IqBJdS3lS6zs3bIpB9WED3YYXFPmHRfT8sgyrCP1x8uEUxLMzNWElFOYCV6mHWWwMzdPEKHlhLw7NWJqkHc4uIZphavDzA2JPzUDsBZziNae2S6owH8xPmX8G7zzgKEOPUoYHvGz1TBCxMkd3kwNVbU0gKHkx+iZILf77IofhrY1nYFnB/lQPb79drWOyJVa/DAvg9B/rLB4cC+Nqgdz/TvBbBnr6GBReqn/nRmDgaQEej7WhonozjF+Y2I/fZou/qAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;"> </div></div><p style=" margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;"> <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B9HIsYIHlDB/" style=" color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;" target="_top">SportMartialArts.com on Instagram: “Team Paul Mitchell hosted a masters forms and weapons seminar last night before the Irish Open! Top competitors Danny Etkin, Aidan…”</a></p> </div></blockquote></div><p>With this historical context in mind, I decided on that first trip that I wanted to be part of the movement to take forms and weapons competition in Europe to the next level. The results after three or four years of teaching at the Irish Open were bittersweet. The Team Paul Mitchell seminars had certainly helped increase the level of forms and weapons competition, but our individual influence was very prevalent. How's this a bad thing? Well, as a <em>creative </em>weapons practitioner and instructor, it is always my goal for a student to develop their own style. However, what we began to notice was that all the little boys were throwing bos around and posing like Jackson while all the little girls were spinning kamas on their thumbs like Mackensi Emory. While this is great because it increased their level of difficulty, we intended for these athletes to innovate beyond our own moves and create their own style instead of just using the moves that were created or made popular by Team Paul Mitchell members.</p>
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Louie Anson | 12-17 CMX Grands - Unity World Games 2019<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="29be49e56c0177330dae57068e3f2e27"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/jKQk3NA5nmY?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>What I've learned from this experience is that innovation takes time. If we fast forward to present-day, I was extremely pleased with what I saw from the competition in Ireland. I stood in applause after watching a 13-year-old girl roll the bo staff around her body in a way that I had never seen before. My jaw dropped when I saw another young girl throw her sword, complete a full spin of her body, and catch the sword cleanly behind her back, something that (to my knowledge) has never been landed in the United States. I watched in awe with the rest of the crowd as a teenage boy spun one sword off of another, did a complete front flip while the sword was in the air, and catch the weapon as he landed on one knee. The European competitors have successfully made the transition from being <em>influenced </em>by the Americans, to now <em>innovating </em>new techniques that have not been seen before. Don't let me be mistaken, there is still work to be done universally as far as getting young martial artists to understand that the cleanliness of their basic techniques is more important than these fancy tricks. However, the progression of these new tricks makes for a very bright future of open forms and weapons competition in Europe.</p>
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