Post Independent Sports Editor
The Perpetual Trophy will stay in the Rocky Mountain Martial Arts school in Basalt ” in perpetuity.
The Perpetual Trophy typically travels to a the home of the Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan Federation national champion, finding itself in a new home every year or two. But if a team wins the national title three straight years, the trophy has itself a permanent home.
The four-person forms team from Rocky Mountain Martial Arts traveled to the Soo Bahk Do Nationals in Orlando, Fla., for the third time last weekend, and came home ” for the third time ” with the national championship in the team form category.
“Three years ago we didn’t have a team. At the time we had no idea where we were going to place,” said Glenwood’s Sue Fittanto, who was on the team with fellow Roaring Fork Valley residents Robert Wood, Jen Jakob and Dan Dixon. “Then we thought maybe the first year was a fluke, and we won again last year.”
The team is no fluke now. The Perpetual Trophy has been traveling from school to school for a couple of decades, and the Rocky Mountain Martial Arts team is believed to be the first to win three straight years.
“It shows the quality of the school and the quality of the practitioners in our valley,” said Rocky Mountain Martial Arts head instructor Jeff Griggs.
The foursome represented Region 8, which includes Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Ten regions competed at Nationals.
A form, or “hyung,” is essentially a set of moves linked together. In the team form competition the unit develops a synchronized routine no longer than three minutes with points awarded on artistic and technical merit. Each routine also involves sparring or combat sequences.
After immersing herself in soo bahk do for seven years, Fittanto admitted it’s difficult to describe the essence of a form and the form competition in a few sentences, but she breaks it into three parts ” external (the movements), internal (breathing) and spiritual (focus or intent).
And then there is getting the most out of each individual, while still working as a single unit.
“Everyone brings a little something as far as experience and creativity,” Griggs said of the team. “They created the form themselves and once they get the forms to the point that they have a pattern they come to me and do the final polish.”
While it takes months to get a form ready for competition, Fittanto, Wood, Jakob and Dixon were still tweaking things with Griggs the day before the competition. The final polish this year involved finding the essence of soo bahk do.
“(Griggs) had a vision of getting back to the purest form and the way the art had intended forms to look,” Fittanto said. “A lot of internal connection and timing and breathing, and I think that’s what’s given us the edge with the judges ” it’s different than what they’ve seen before.
“It’s the purest way to do it. It’s impressive, but not because of all these spinning, flashy things. It’s one movement instead of four different people.”
It didn’t hurt that the team has remained unchanged for three years.
“We got to the point where we would move together when we were not even practicing,” said Fittanto, who also teamed up with Wood, Dixon and Bud Boland for third in the team sparring. “We had some people ask us at nationals if we were joined at the hip.”
With the Perpetual Trophy now residing in Basalt for good, the foursome will take some time off from the team form competition, opening it up for other Region 8 squads.
“We’ll all still go to nationals next year…,” Fittanto said. “I know there are other people in the region who would like the opportunity to give (team forms) a try, so it only seems fair.”
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