Athletes from Emerald Dragon Martial Arts in Penrith will be taking on the best of the best this weekend, as they head to Blacktown Sports Stadium for their National Championships.
David Greenland has owned Emerald Dragon for almost 20 years, educating students in Kung Fu, Tai Chi, and Qigong. Though the walls are plastered with trophies, Mr Greenland hasn’t sent a team to compete in eight years, instead opting to focus on the basics.
“I started bringing my Master out from the Shaolin Temple in China, so we were hosting him once a year, and I was taking a team to train at the Shaolin Temple every second year, so it was really a time factor,” he said.
“Our objective of training was also really concentrated on foundation training, because when my Master came out, he said, ‘If you want to practice anything more, specialise in anything, practice the basics’. So, we really zoned back in and got away from all the performance work, a lot of the sport type, and just trained in the traditional martial arts.”
However, post-COVID, Mr Greenland said that there couldn’t have been a better time to rejoin the circuit.
“It’s been a good motivation for them, too, because we got back to face-to-face learning, we got back to regular sports without too many interruptions of masks and other restrictions and stuff like that,” he said.
“Now that they can put hands on each other and work together, I think it’s great timing. It’s gotten them involved in more social external activities, and it’s given everyone a bit of a boost in drive.”
After competing throughout the year, Mr Greenland couldn’t be more excited to be sending a team to the National Championships.
“I feel good because basically the whole team qualified, and I tell you what, they did really well,” he said.
“After not competing for so long, I just said we’re going to jump back into competition. We had a small team, and it was all foreign to them, but when they would come back, they’d be 100 per cent better, and then 100 per cent better again, and they started placing in events and winning events. The personal growth had already increased, and competitions gave them that platform.”
Though he’s hoping some wins are on the cards, Mr Greenland admits this isn’t his first priority.
“What I’m hoping for is just for them to try their best,” he said.
“I do hope that we can get some national champions, for their sake, but we’re going to celebrate regardless. We’ve already got our party planned!”
Now that they’re officially back to competing, Mr Greenland is already setting his sights high for future years.
“We’ve got 15-20 other students that are on a waiting list to start next year, so next year we’ll have a bigger team,” he said.
Cassidy Pearce is a news and entertainment journalist with The Western Weekender. A graduate of the University of Technology Sydney, she has previously worked with Good Morning Macarthur and joined the Weekender in 2022.