Shinergy[battle 2011] / spring cup

On Saturday, 19th of march, the Shinergy[battle] spring 2011 took place.
From my school, three competitors entered the challenge and fought their way through the tournament.

The Shinergy[battle] is a full-contact event that follows an action/stop ruleset. The basic idea is to combine the best aspects of pointfighting and full-contact fighting without having to bear with their downsides.

You see, semi-contact pointfighting, where the action is interrupted after each hit, has the definitive advantage over other forms of fighting that it places great demands on an athletes tactical skill, speed and precision. On a negative note, obviously, most of the techniques that score great points in semi-contact fighting are utterly useless in every other form of combat. Just watch some of them fights and you’ll see what I mean.

Full-contact fighting, on the other hand, has the big advantage that it comes pretty close to actual fighting. It is not fighting, mind you, it’s still a sport. However, it’s a sport that punishes you hard for dropping your guard, being inattentive or doing silly stuff. Again, there’s a negative side to full-contact bout, that is easily revealed by watching thaiboxing or kyokushin fights: most of those fighters are just plain lacking any tactical understanding to talk about.

Now, as mentioned before, the idea behind the action/stop system is to combine the realism and athleticism of full-contact fighting with the tactical finesse, precision and speed of semi-contact pointfighting. An action is iduced by the first technique that makes contact and lasts for up to three seconds. After those three seconds, the referee stops the fight and the judges score the action, awarding points for successfull strikes, kicks and sweeps. Unlike most styles, we don’t count the score by adding points, but rather substract points from the competitor that was hit. Think Tekken, but in reality.

I need to mention that I’m not fully convinced of the action/stop system, at least for higher graduations. I tend to agree with most of the above listed points when it comes to beginners and intermediate fighters. For blackbelts, however, I strongly believe there should be no interruptions in the fight. Also, although we already have a pretty liberal ruleset (sweeps, elbow strikes, knee strikes, …) I think blackbelts should be allowed to throw or take down the opponent. As we’re not an MMA-system, I’d propose not to carry on with the fight once a fighter (or both fighters) goes down, but the throw should be implemented.

Anyhow, coming back to topic, three of my guys started

  • Michael, blue belt, -185cm
  • Alexander, grey belt, -175cm
  • Andreas, grey belt, -175cm

Basically, a grey belt indicates a novice who hasn’t taken an exam yet. Then, after about a year and a half of training, students can take the blue belt exam. With four years of training, students can take the red belt exam. Finally, after (at least) seven years, the black belt exam can be takesn.

Andy had the evening’s first fight and did a great job. This was his first fight and he clearly dominated the bout. Winning that fight immediately took him to the finals, where he lost by a point or two – probably one of the nights closest fights. Having lost the finals, Andy took silver.

Alexander, too, had his debut on that evening. His first opponent was the guy to win gold in the grey belt class. Still, I’m pretty convinced Alex could have won that fight if he had only not thought about the outcome. You see, Alex is a powerful guy. In fact, his strength levels leave me humbled for good. However, he’s having a hard time transferring all that power into his kicks and strikes, probably because he’s tensing up really hard as soon as the action gets going. Obviously, a tense muscle can’t contract in a fast, explosive matter. It’s the basic idea of Taoism, the concept of Yin and Yang, that can clearly be observed here. Strength (tension) needs relaxation in order to produce an effect. Now tensing up is natural in stressy situations. As martial artists, we strive to control our ego, our thoughts, our fears,… Here it is again, the whole Zen thing about embracing the moment without thoughts of the future.

That’s what always fascinated me about the philosophy of the martial arts: it’s absolutely pragmatic. Philosophical concepts are taught to actually help students become better fighter and, in the long run, better human beings.

Back to Alex, after realizing that exaggerated tension won’t do him no good, he really relaxed in his fight for bronze and took a well-earned victory. Although it’s obviously never convenient to lose a fight, I firmly believe that the defeat in the first fight actually helped Alex. In any case, he learned a great deal about combat psychology.

Michael, a veteran fighter who already competed in two Shinergy[battle]s and a kickboxing tournament, started in the blue belt class. Unfortunately, there was only one other competitor in that class. The fight was pretty tactical. Now while many combat-sports fans scoff at the idea of watching a tactical fight, I personally enjoy a good party of physical chess a great deal. In the first round, Mike didn’t really find a way to cope with the other guy’s kicks, but he improved round after round and finally took gold.

Of course, I’ll post the video of the fights as soon as I have it.
So long,

take care

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