Monday, January 26, 2009

Fighting Arts Collective Toronto - Open House

The Fighting Arts Collective Toronto or FACT, is an organization originally established through a partnership between AEMMA, JKD and Wing Chun. Over the years, FACT has organized an annual Open House, which is essentially a celebration of the various fighting arts and body movement forms which are offered at FACT. The day began around noonish with the sharp sword cutting. Representatives from each of the schools took turns at striking the rolled tatami mats in their attempts to slice all the way through. The rolled tatamit mats each had a wooden dowel core to "simulate" a human limb, and were inserted into a stand providing a vertical target. A variety of swords were used including the German messer, longsword and Filipino sword.

The cutting demonstration was immediately followed by the Dragon Dance, celebrating the Chinese New Year. The two dragons weaved, and danced their way towards the prize which was a head of lettuce suspended from the ceiling. The dragons had remarkably detailed faces, with eyes blinking and seemingly coming to life with their expressions. By the conclusion of the Dragon Dance, FACT experienced what was undoubtedly, the largest crowd ever.

The demonstrations continued after the Dragon Dance with Ryan Kennedy leading an impressive presentation of Wing Chun Toronto. All of his students in unison were conducting their traditional Wing Chun kata. This was followed by Shawn Zirger and the Jeet Kune Do, opening with the JKD kids aged between 10 - 14 years, adequately demonstrating their skills with staff. Following this, was a demonstration by AEMMA, which included Beau Brock and his assistants demonstration rapier techniques based on Capo Ferro. Following this was Brian McIlmoyle and Aldo Valente demonstrating sword & buckler. The rest of the day offered demonstrations of other activities at FACT, including Systema Downtown (Russian martial arts) lead by instructor Paul McCaughey accompanied by a number of students including his wife Jenn, Toronto Kettlebell Club, and the recently added aerial acrobatics. The four performers of the aerial acrobatics includes three women who train at FACT in women's self defense with Shawn Zirger as their instructor. Shawn became fascinated with the aerial acrobatics that he now trains in this and was one of the four performers at the Open House. FACT had expanded it's offering by including Live Action Role Playing (LARP) by a group known as "Underworld". These costumed individuals gave a presentation of what they do, with the usual "good vs evil" and having to do battle with the "undead". One of the battles between a viking and the undead left a little souvenir on the floor depicted on the right.

Of course, the day would not be complete without a little armoured combat, with Aldo Valente and Matt Brundle engaged in battle firstly with spear and then a second engagement with dagger.

The day ended with nothing short of a feast comprised of giant pots of chilli, lasagna, tons of meatballs, and plenty of libations, including the in-house favourites of Kel's Ale, Bermudian Rum and swigs of "Waldec Shine".

Overall, based on visitors comments, it was a tremendous success. Most visitors had no idea that such an environment existed in Toronto and were extremely impressed with the demonstrations and presentations, which means that the Open House did satisfy at least one of its objectives, which is to educate the people of Toronto.

1 comment:

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