Tuesday, October 7, 2008

When East meets West

This article was written by me after Ollie's clinic in Taiwan. I sent it to Dye hopping to get a column in some paintball magazines...but after a couple of months, I thought its good to share with even more people.

Venue: Taipei County Yingge Paintball Theme Park
Duration: 9 – 10 August 2008
Number of participants: 40

The Beijing Olympics 2008, an international sporting event participated by 205 countries from around the world is one of the highlights in the 2008 calendar. This mulit-sport event is watch by millions from across the globe and participated by more than 10000 athletes from around the world. While paintball is not an official event in the Summer Olympics, this adrenaline rushing sport has indeed a potential into make in BIG in the near future. Despite the fact that thousands of athletes and spectators travelled half way across the globe to witness the Olympics, a professional paintball player from the United States did the same to impart his knowledge of paintball to a group of paintball enthusiasts in Asia, Taiwan. An illustration of East meets West.
Attended by more than 40 Taiwanese and 2 Singaporeans, the “Oliver Lang Paintball Clinic in Taiwan” was conducted in Taipei County Yingge Paintball Theme Park that has facilities for both recreational and competitive group. Sponsored by DYE Asia, Team Shocker and Achilles Paintball, this clinic hopes to meet the objective of learning from the best in the world. Although paintball clinics by professional players are frequent in the United States and many European countries, clinics as such are hard to come by in Asia, especially when this clinic is conducted by the most iconic paintball player in the world, Oliver Lang from the Ironmen. The last paintball clinic that was held in Asia was in 2007 where another member of the Ironmen, Nicky Cuba was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with Todd Martinez and Gary Shows to show pointers to Asia players.

After a brief introduction of his mission to Taiwan, Ollie emphasized on the day’s objective, which was working towards an improved individual shooting postures. 2 rounds of slow jog around the field kick start the clinic. This was followed by stretching all related working muscles, and so the training begun for Day 1.

Under a humid weather of 35 Degrees Celsius, participants were taught the fundamentals of playing behind different bunkers using different snapshooting postures. To ensure that the drill was effective, a total of 10 bunkers were set up to ensure that every participant goes through 3 rounds of practices! Yes, 30 times of snapshooting for the first practice. For someone who has not gone through snapshooting drills for a long time, my quadriceps was calling for help, not forgetting my calves and of course my gluteus maximus too! To make the practices realistic as game play, the inclusion of an opposing player was introduced. Yes, 30 times of getting hit if not careful and playing loosely…

“The clinic was effective, fun and interesting. A lot of emphasis was placed on adopting the right shooting posture” exclaimed Jane Koh who was one of the 2 participants who flew into Taiwan from Singapore after knowing about the clinic. Jane plays for a Singapore team known as the Red Sevens who participates in the Paintball Asia League Series (PALS), a tournament series in the Asia region.

To add icing to the clinic was the free tryout of the different paintball markers available at the DYE Asia booth. Participants can request for trial usage on all the DYE and Proto series, from entry level marker such as the SLG to the DYE signature series such as the Ollie Lang DM8. Talk about getting hands on the different markers… DYE Asia representative Ellen indicated that “It is our gesture of support to all participants of the clinic and we hope to make use of this opportunity to bridge professional paintball closer to the paintball community in Asia”. All participants of the clinic also each received a gift which comprised of paintball accessories such as lanyard, cap, marker feedneck and postcards.

After lunch and a photography session with OIlie Lang, participants were treated with more professional advice on the “art of bunkering”. Players were lined up behind boxes which acted as shooting targets and were asked to perform run through as an act of bunkering opponent players while switching the paintball marker between hands depending on which side the boxes were placed. After a couple of switching from left to right and right to left, participants were instructed to pick up speed in the run through.
Day 1 ended with a raffles draw with participants walking away with DYE masks and the new ultra light frame SLG.

Day 2 started with a recapped of Day 1’s practice followed by the appreciation of “flight path”. Flight path in this sense refers to the route in which the paintballs are travelling after they left the barrel. The appreciation of flight path allows a player to be aware of their opponent’s firing position and allow him/her to counter his firing suppression. Participants were told to step up to be “shot” by Ollie while observing the paintball flight path and avoid being hit. This was the most exciting part of the clinic as players were all focused and attentive trying their best not to be hit by the world number most prolific paintballer. As the day continued, the participants were also introduced to the proper techniques of sliding as Ollie performs a detailed stage by stage breakdown demonstration of the side slide and the “Superman” slide. A paintball clinic would not be called a clinic if all that were taught were not put into good use. Thus to convert all knowledge into practical sessions, participants were grouped into teams to compete against one another in a similar format as the widely popular X-ball format. Each team was supposed to play 4 qualifying games with the winning team walking away with a brand new SLG marker.
Throughout the 2 days clinic, relationships were fostered and the Asia paintball grew stronger but most important of all is having the opportunity to learn and appreciate the game of paintball from one of the world bests. While Asia paintball is gaining in popularity, it is also vital for players from this part of the world continue to adopt, play and appreciate the game that we all loved in the proper way. As Ollie Lang said before the end of the clinic, “I am also an apprentice of the Asian culture and always learning…”