On Teamwork: The Chinese Dragon Boat


Across the cultural development, dragon boat has evolved itself from a mere festive celebration activity (The Dragon Boat Festival), to one of the exciting sports games in the world, including Hong Kong (The founding city of Dragon Boat race as a proper sports), China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Russia, etc. In the current stage, the races range from the scale of the original festive celebrations, to the official sports competitions, as well as the charitable activities.
At first glance, there is nothing spectacular about this boat. The decorative dragon head and tail are put on only at the festive race days, and at other times around 20 people are sitting in pairs with nothing but a paddle each on this narrow boat. 
And that is the key to the amazement of this sport. As a human powered watercraft, the dragon boat moves under not solely the physical strength, but more importantly teamwork – in the case of this water sports, the synchronization of paddling. 
Recently I have been invited by friend to join a charitable dragon boat race. The 20 people team consists of some of the known people, and more the strangers, including a few deaf individuals. I did not know, nor had the awareness of wanting to figure out how they could actually particularly in the activity, until I personally took part in the first training practice, then I witnessed how they did it.
In the practice, the deaf individuals sat within themselves to facilitate the better view of the translator who was sitting at front. The translator did not only translate the teaching, but was also physically involved in actual practice by repetitively demonstrating the quick repetitive bending of the whole upper body (indeed quite a vigorous physical demand) to replace the audible calling of the paddling number counted by the rest of the team.
At first, apart from listening to the coach’s instructions, most simply talk with own familiar ones. I personally did not relate to the team. Perhaps things could have been better if I interacted with them. Or no relationship was needed to be built outside the event – we never actually saw each other after the race anyway.
At the middle of the practice, we came across a neighboring practicing team (which consisted of half of members as well built grown males), and the instructor decided that we had a friendly match. In the first round, we lost big. Our instructor reminded us our lack of the unified paddling movement – the key to failure. Then, in the second round, with the slower yet more synchronized paddling, out of my imagination we caught up at the middle of the race, and went ahead. In the last round, we led the whole race since the whistle blown. I was truly amazed by the strength of synchronization – such magical creation of human power. 
As I attempted to step out from the slightly shaky boat back to the pier after the practice, a already landed young deaf and mute woman took out her hand and gave me a gentle pull. Despite cold from the sea-water soaked clothing, a wave of warmth immediately went through me. I sent her my happiness via the very limited body language of a big smile and thumb up. I think this universal language has connected us.
This is how teamwork is built upon this inspiring and exciting “Dragon Boat” approach. Aside the experiencing of power of the ultimate synchronization, I also treasured the equally beautiful exchanges between people in the whole process which transcend words. 
I share with you this meaningful and fun sports game.
 #inspirational #sharing #dragon boat #boat #sports #teamwork #water

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