Mariah Moore, Onaway High School Onaway Michigan Filipino Weapons Demo

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Flight of the Valkyrie

Friday, July 25, 2008

Flight of the Valkyrie by Master Bobbe Edmonds, Edmonds Martial Arts Academy

Do Not Tangle With A Tiger, Because You Are Crunchy
And Taste Good With Ketchup

I may have overshot the target in my promotional work for Mariah Moore. I tend to do that…It’s a holdover from my short stint at military school when I was a teenager: I can’t do anything low-key. If it comes from Bobbe Edmonds, it comes with a detonator. And a hell of a lot of C-4.

So I have done what I could for the Moore’s, writing articles for Mariah, shooting and editing the video, working out with her when I can. I’ve done everything I could to get Mariah’s name out to the world.

Well, apparently the word has gotten out: The Filipinos are well aware of her, and not at all amused.

Mariah has spent the last three days competing against some of the best stickfighters in the world, all of them ready to send her home in a cast without a second thought. But she’s doing it in the Philippines, and that brings another truckload of obstacles to deal with: Irritated, well-armed Filipinos. This is the dead-last place on Earth to take a 14 year old girl to compete in anything.

When Mariah’s name was called in Cebu, there was a rush of people to her ring. Everyone had heard of this teenage gringo upstart who thought she could do Eskrima. Of all the places to have a title like “Eskrimadora”, Cebu would be number one on the list of worst places to tout it. Eskrima is to the Filipinos what Baseball is to Americans. It’s what Hockey is to Canada. And Cebu is the central hub for one of the most globally-feared systems of stickfighting in the world today: Doce Pares, the legendary “Twelve Pairs” system of Filipino stick, knife and empty hand combat.

To the Filipinos it was a matter of pride to shut Mariah down early, and they were chomping at the bit to get started. Unfortunately, they were unaware of rule #1: Don’t cross a Valkyrie unless you’re ready to see Valhalla.

Mariah was still suffering a touch of jet lag and sleep loss through most of the first day of competition, and her timing was off. She hammered through her first rounds in single stick fighting, pushing through the eliminations until it was down to her and her teammate…They had fought through the competition only to face each other. In a 2-1 split, teammate Erin Michaelis edged Mariah out for the Gold medal.

One down.

Forms was next, and after getting pummeled for half an hour, this was almost a breeze. Most competitors focus on one, maybe two weapons at most. Mariah brought out six, manipulated the switches between them like she was born doing it and rocked them from one end of the platform to the other. Better, this time: Gold medal, and world champion title in forms.

Two down, last time up to bat.

Double stick fighting is a different animal than single stick. It’s not a beginners game, and proficiency comes with a heavy price: Pain, pain, and more pain.

Mariah has paid her dues, with interest. This is her game, and it doesn’t matter if she’s competing on an active volcano, double stick is the dominion of Mariah Moore. Time to rain down some Hell.

Mariah jumped the line at the start faster than her first opponent expected and tore into her like a pitbull with rabies. The initial round was over so fast, most spectators didn’t have time to get settled in to watch before the ref broke them up. But Mariah was just getting this party started. Two more rounds with Mariah dealing out the harshness and the tally was in: The white girl from America was taking requests for skull drumming, and the line forms up on the right. The crowd began to root for Mariah, and coming to realize something: We don’t call her the Eskrimadora because we couldn’t think of another name.

Second match, this time against an American teammate who beat her once before in double stick. Sorry, perhaps you didn’t get the memo: We came to fight. Again, the match was over in record time. Mariah had apparently decided to get this show on the road, with or without everyone else.

Final round: Team USA versus Team Australia.

The bell sounds and the sticks clash. For a second, it’s a toss up as to who is ahead on strikes. The Australians are GOOD, they are frequent champions of Eskrima tournaments worldwide and feared competitors.

Somebody forgot to tell Mariah. Or she just didn’t care.

Faster than the Aussies could track, and entirely too fast to resemble anything close to fair play, Mariah burned through 3 continuous rounds of double stick combat like a Velociraptor on Espresso. At the final bell, there was no hesitation:

Mariah Moore, at 14 years of age, is a FOUR TIME WORLD CHAMPION.

When you accomplish something this good in America, it’s noteworthy. When you pull the same stunt TWICE in the Philippines, mother country of the martial art you train in…It’s nothing short of phenomenal.

The Filipinos thought so too.

Following her victory over the Australian team, the tournament directors approached Mariah to congratulate her…and to say that they are going to create a "Grand Champion" Division for all first place competitors, because skill like hers should not go, as they put it, "unrewarded and unchallenged." She was mobbed coming off the mat, with people asking for autographs, pictures, and proposals of marriage. The Eskrimadora is now a legend in Cebu, where no other American girls (and damn few Filipinos) make the grade.

Mariah made it back to her hotel room later that night and collapsed from exhaustion, getting some well-deserved rest. And of course, all of us here in America wish her well and hope she is back to 100% tomorrow.

But…There’s a new development.

Between jet lag, bouts of an upset stomach, defending her title of W.E.K.A.F. world champion, catching up on her sleep and hanging out with Steve van Harn & the rest of the American team, Mariah decided to fill in her spare time with some leisurely activities of sightseeing, trying the local cuisine…and fighting again three days later at ANOTHER tournament down the street: The 2nd Annual Doce Pares World Championships, at the prestigious Doce Pares headquarters in Cebu. The home of the Canete family, founders of Doce Pares and undisputed Grandmasters of close-range stickfighting. This is the proving grounds for Eskrimadors all over the world, and the action is fast, furious and brutal. The rules are different, and the protective gear is minimal.

Mariah fights again this Saturday.

The Valkyrie isn’t finished just yet.

4 comments:

Guro Buzz said...

Kudos to Maraiah!!! Mabuhay ang FMA!
Now if we can just get her to be less sexy and more fierce. Naw, sexy is better- false sense of "I can beat this chick" makes for easier wins.
Buzz

Del said...

Congrats to Maraiah! Great write up. But it leaves us wondering,,, How did she do at the Doce Pares tournament?

Roslyn said...

Great post, thanks! I felt like I was there! Way to go Mariah! I wonder how you say "kick ass" in Tagalog? Oh wait, it's "Mariah". Duh. :)

Jan said...

Mariah -

After seeing you perform on Monday - I can see why you are a 4 time World Champion.

Congratulations to a champion who does not say "I Can't" by "I Can Today".

Jan at Mich I Can Today

Fight Tunes!


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North American International Karate Championships, Detroit Michigan Competition for Grand Champion

Kent County Youth Fair Talent Show 1st Place Performance - Mariah and Noel Loveless "Boom Boom POW!"

Detroit D'Lux Charity Challenge Martial Arts Tournament