From July 24th-26th, our Bok Fu Do West Coast Team competed at the US International Kuo Shu Championships in Hunt Valley, Maryland. This was the 25th year that East West has taken a team to this world class tournament. This year was particularly significant, as it was the qualifier for the World Kuo Shu Championships that will take place in Argentina this September. Competitors that placed first in some of the advanced categories earned a spot on the USA national team that will travel to Argentina for the World Tournament.
There were many highlights for our students from the weekend! Our team did an outstanding job competing in forms, light contact and full contact lei tai fighting and some earned the honor of making the National team. At the end of the weekend, East West came home with a first place overall in lei tai and second place overall in adult forms. Our team ranged from students as young as 7 years old to others in their 70’s, from Orange belt up through many degrees of black belt. However all of our students, regardless of age or rank, came together in the spirit that Bok Fu Do is known for and demonstrated sportsmanship, camaraderie and martial ethics.
We are extremely proud of the 8 people on our lei tai team and their performances from this weekend. The preparation that went into this competition was nothing short of amazing and they all developed a champion’s spirit in the process. Ms. Dominguez earned the honor of representing her country at the world tournament for the fifth time, a historical accomplishment. Ms. Liu also earned a spot on the USA Team in both lei tai as well as forms, a huge accomplishment in its own right. Ms. Baker will be representing her country in her third world championship at only 24 years old. Ms. Lay stepped up on the lei tai for the first time at the nationals and walked away with a fantastic third place finish in a combined weight division. On the men’s side, Mr. Collin Lee had tough fights, demonstrated perseverence and poise, and earned a first place finish and a spot on the USA Team for the third time. Mr. Stamm, Mr. McKay and Mr. Hodge all fought extremely well too and brought great honor to the system. This was Mr. McKay first fight in close to 10 years and proved what hard work, skill and dedication can do.
I want to take a moment and comment on how proud we are of our black belts that were part of this year’s team and have consistently attended this tournament throughout the years. It is a very significant part of their development towards their next degrees and the one event each year that provides a platform an for Grandmaster Lee and Master Buckley to get to see them in action on the international and world stage. Through competing, judging, officiating and coaching, opportunities like these tell you a lot about your students and where they are at physically, mentally and emotionally under the pressure of world level competition. This event provides the greatest opportunity for us, as teachers, to see the mind, body, spirit concept at work from the moment the plane lands in Baltimore to the minute the tournament ends.
Master Futini and Ms. Piacente represented the West Coast Time as Interntional Referees, something they’ve been doing since 2003. Mr. Worden competed in the advanced light contact division and took first place in the under 200lb category. He commented that in coming in to be a sparring partner with the lei tai team leading up to the tournament, it allowed him to breeze through the light contact competition at the tournament. Mrs. Buckley and Dr. Panella have been attending the nationals for nearly two decades and never miss a year. Other than Grandmaster Lee, Master Buckley and Ms. Newman, no one else has been more consistent and been to as many Baltimore tournaments as these two. Dr. Panella has been the co-sponsor of the tournament for many years. His support not only to the West Coast Team, but also to the tournament as a co-sponsor, sets a great example as a contributor on all levels. Mrs. Buckley helped to run the lei tai division this year and earned her position as TWKSF deputy referee general through her consistency and hard work. Ms. Mitchell, Mr. Gray and Mr. Cusack judged all weekend and officiated the lei tai, working towards their International A status. They will be attending the week long training prior to the World Tournament in Argentina to try to obtain their Interntaionl A level. We anticipate that they’l all pass with flying colors, joining a long list of accomplished International Referees from East West. Mr. Cusack was honored with the title of USKSF Judge of the Year based on his exceptional performance as a judge at this tournament, a title held by only one judge per year of the hundreds that attend. Master Buckley was the first to vote for Mr. Cusack, based on the great example he set of what it means to be a judge. From the opening bell of the tournament to the closing bell, Mr. Cusack was judging non-stop in all events including forms, weapons, light contact and lei tai. Ms. Baker was also chosen at the female lei tai competitor of the year for her outstanding performance on the lei tai.
Mr. Mckay and Mr. Lee both were presented their 3rd and 2nd Degree(respectively) through the TWKSF.
Ms. Dominguez, Mr. McKay, Mr. Hodge, Mr. Lee, Ms. Liu and Ms. Baker all almost single handedly brought home the trophies for our team. We are the only team that has our lei tai competitors compete in both lei tai and forms divisions and it is one of the reasons we are so successful. Our black belts are an the centerpiece of our West Coast Team, setting a tremendous example for the students they teach through their efforts, conduct and performance.
It was also a significant weekend for our students that are closing in on their black belts. It became very clear this weekend that Mr. Stamm, Mrs. Fitzsimmons, Mrs. Ogata and Mr. Ong all took significant steps forward towards earning their black belts. Ms. Camozzi also led our youth team, competing in 11 events throughout the weekend. Mr. Greenwood and Ms. Lay even finished out the weekend being presented their brown belts after many months of testing at home. Their performances this weekend on an international level were the final push they needed to propel them to brown belt. The opportunity to represent the system on an Internationl stage at the USKSF tournament each summer is given to our students based on years of hard work and dedication from the top down. Those students that are astute enough to follow in the footsteps of those internationally recognized black belts that came before them, reap tremendous rewards that go far beyond the belt color around their waist.
We would like to sincerely thank Grandmaster Huang and the USKSF for putting on another fantastic event. In our minds, this is not only the best Chinese Martial Arts tournament in the country, but also in the world. Every single year our students look forward to traveling across the country to compete with some of the best martial artists from around the world at this prestigious tournament. We are already looking forward to our trip next year and reuniting with our Kuoshu family. The team is now in preparation for the TWKSF 5th World Championships that will be held in Argentina from September 25th-27th. We look forward to representing the system and our country again in World competition.