9 Dragon Boat Principles to Help you Win at Life

The sport of Dragon Boat has taught you many lessons that you can apply in real life. Teamwork and camaraderie for example, are just two of a number of life principles that you may have picked up or developed from the sport. To make your dragon boating life more meaningful, you should embrace all the learnings from it, especially those that make you an expert about life.

Qualities like mental toughness, being a team player, or having a winning mindset are just some of the takeaways you have acquired from dragon boat. Here’s a few compilation of some of the most inspiring words of wisdom by national athletes from around the world; and here’s hoping that you may embody these amazing qualities to help you and your team in stepping up your game, in sport, and, in life.

Ed Nguyen


1. Leave your Ego by the Dock Site

“That one crucial part is for members to leave their ego at the door. You can have a team full of the best athletes in the world, but if they can’t check their egos and blend with humility, it’s a recipe for disaster.”

Christine Pezzulo, National Athlete – Team USA

2. Paddles Up! Persevere!

“Keep going, keep your head up, be proud! Always reach further, I was told I would never walk again! I could not, WOULD not accept that! You keep battling! Afghanistan was my war, now my injury is my war! Life is for living; live it to the max.”

Mark Harding, National Athlete – Great Britain Dragon Boat Team

3. Listen to the Beat of the Drum

“I always maintain a healthy respect for my paddlers of all levels, since I am often paddling in the boat with them too. I am aware that as a sole person I may not see or understand all things of all paddlers at all times. So I encourage healthy discussion and conversation from my paddlers. This two-way dialogue encourages respect and cohesion amongst the paddlers.”

Dennis Wright, National Athlete – Auroras – Australian Dragon Boat Team

4. Keep a Fit Mind and Body

“I think the key to success in sport is staying physically and mentally energetic by staying motivated and free from physical obstacles like injuries and illnesses.”

Carl Marco Wassén, National Athlete – Dragon Boat Team Sweden (Sverige)

5. Paddle with your Heart

“We play sports like dragon boat because we love doing it. The awards and medals are only a small part of it. Yes, you will strive to be the best but in so doing, loving and enjoying the sport is already an ultimate goal achieved.”

Nutcharat Chimbanrai, National Athlete – Thailand Dragon Boat Team

6. Practice builds Confidence

“Never give up and have a big goal and ambition. One needs to be very confident on training and during competition. The most important thing is to keep training and practice a lot.”

Wu Chun-Chieh, National Athlete – Chinese-Taipei Dragon Boat Team

7. Motivated to Motivate

“One thing that keeps me going when I’m tired during a race or in training is the knowledge that my teammates around me are hurting just as much and that my opponents are pushing themselves even harder.”

Kiyoshi Morishita, National Athlete – Dragon Boat Team Canada

8. Synchronised for One Goal

“Unity is important especially in a team because without it you will not achieve your goal. For example, when our team is focused on a certain programme today, it requires everyone to be united in following and doing it; when others did not perform well, we need to do it again and again until we have perfected it.”

Riza Canonoy, National Athlete – Philippine National Dragon Boat Team

9. Celebrate Victory, but..

“The victories in the past give self-confidence of course and also the necessary composure for the upcoming challenges. However, one shouldn’t relax on the victories from the past; there will always be new aims, new opponents and therefore also new duties.”

Marc Rößler, National Athlete – Team Germany (Deutschland)

Ed Nguyen


Photo Credits: Ed Nguyen Photography

 
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22 Lessons and Things You Learned from Dragon Boat

Dragon Boat

1. The first and the most essential lesson you have learned from dragon boat is synchronicity. Paddling in perfect synchrony will give your team the edge against your competitor. #fact

2. You learned that whether you win or lose in the race, the most important thing is that your team is intact; and that everyone is safe and happy to be racing together. You also learned #humility. You then #moveon and get ready for the next race lined up.

3. You have learned to always remain focused in the boat, to block the pain, breathe properly, and keep up with the stroke rate of your pacers or what you have practiced as a team for a specific race distance. #teamworkworks

4. The knowledge and skills that your Coach has imparted to you can be easily learned if you learn it by heart. The quick (and quality) development of the paddlers/crew may be one of your Coach’s measures of satisfaction. Learn the technique quickly but forget it slowly (or forget it never).

5. Apart from the physical skills you’ve learned from your President/Team Captain, you also learned that the unconditional trust and respect you have on their leadership is reflective of your commitment to the ‘team’. You appreciate their inspiring words before, during and after the races.

6. While dragon boat is a tough sport to learn and to be at, you have learned that apart from the camaraderie it fosters, there is so much to smile and laugh about (at trainings or in races). Yes, dragon boaters are tough yet fun-loving athletes, too.

7. While in your business attire, you carry a sports bag filled with a seat pad, board shorts, a team jersey, compression shorts, changing clothes, bananas, power bars, recovery drinks and other DB stuff. #innerdragon

8. When you see a boat (any boat in fact) you associate it with a dragon boat. You imagine a scenario of you paddling in it. That’s right: ‘paddling’, not rowing.

9. When you see someone carrying a paddle, you feel happy. It’s like you’ve seen a brother or a sister. (In your mind you say, ‘Keep it up, we’re in the best sport ever!’)

10. In a massage session, you will kindly instruct the masseur/masseuse to go gentle on your ass. You mean your fresh blister from training or race.

11. After each heat (and you’re still panting), it is a joy for you to cheer and shake hands with other teams in the embarkation area. That’s real sportsmanship!

12. Majority of the content in your laundry basket are clothes made with Dri-Fit fabric. You have several batches of those week after week after week.

13. Flip-flops are considered to be ‘very formal’ footwear in the ‘dragon boat culture’.

14. You know a fellow paddler when the shoulders and the upper limbs are suntanned. When naked, there’s a visible tan line in the shape of a jersey or a sports bra for ladies. Yeah, the dragon boater’s legs are two-toned too.

15. After paddling, all your stresses are gone (or at least eased up). On the contrary, if you can not paddle because you have classes or you need to work or travel, you are stressed.

16. Your weekends are spent in the water. You’d like to have more sleep but you need to show up on time for practice. It taught you #discipline.

17. You have saved on gym membership as the land trainings alone already make you too shattered. If you have a gym membership, you might have not visited for a long time or you’re not utilising the monthly fee being charged on your credit card.

18. You instantly know what to do when you hear the command: ‘Brace the boat!’ or ‘Brace! Brace! Brace!’

19. You know that the command ‘Hold water!’ means that you do not actually hold the water with your hands. You hold your paddle perpendicular to the water to stop the glide of the boat.

20. In your email ending or personal email signature, you would use ‘Paddles Up!’ instead of ‘All the best!’ or ‘Yours faithfully’. It actually means to signal the paddlers to get ready to paddle or to assume the catch position.

21. Carb-loading. You have learned that it is important to start carbohydrate loading, 3 or 4 days before and in the morning the actual race. Experts say, “it’s good to have a small portion of carbs for about 3 to 4 hours before the race.”

22. It is normal to feel a little bit nervous before the race (not scared, because there is nothing to be scared about). That nervous feeling has taught you how to be brave. You know that it goes away right after your first heat. #TrueStory

Dragon Boat

These are only 22 of the things and lessons you have learned as a dragon boater; surely, you have a tale or two to tell about your own paddling life. We chose to list down 22 as this number significantly represents the Standard Racing Boat or DB22, which is composed of a minimum of eighteen and a maximum of twenty paddlers, one steersperson and one drummer.

Dragon Boat

Another integral lesson that dragon boat as a competitive pursuit or as a recreational hobby¹ has taught the crew (paddlers, drummers, steerspersons), is to not resort into any threat of violence or actual physical violence² at any period of a race or a regatta. Dragon boaters know that this can be grounds for disqualification of a crew or everyone involved.

Dragon Boat

Finally, everything you need to know about dragon boat: its history, bye-laws, competition regulations, rules of racing, calendar of international races, et cetera, can be found here: http://www.idbf.org/.

Notes
¹ “Technical Definitions,” IDBF Bye-Laws Edition 6 (2012): p6
² “IDBF Disciplinary Code,” Rules & Regulations (2014): p3

Photos: Kelvin Pao
Race & Venue: Boracay International Dragon Boat Festival, Boracay Island, Philippines