IRC East Asia 2018 – IJA Regional Competition Highlights

IRC East Asia

The IJA Regional Competition – IRC East Asia 2018 took place at the Asian International Diabolo Cup (AIDC) in Taipei, Taiwan on the 26th of May. This was the first IRC to be held in this region of the world.

The AIDC is a prestigious diabolo competition that has been running since 2005 and welcomes diabolists from throughout Asia to attend and compete.  It is sanctioned by the International Diabolo Association (IDA) and was attended by competitors from Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, and China.  The event is 3 days long and features a huge variety of competitive diabolo formats and skill levels.  Over 500 people were involved as competitors throughout the event.

During my stay in Taiwan, I learned a lot about the history of diabolo in Taiwan and how it has come to be a nationally recognized sport.  Due to how the diabolo culture has progressed, there are now diabolo classes held in a majority of the schools throughout the country.  These teachers of the classes are paid by the school and most of the teachers are now doing 4 diabolo low – meaning their students have some top level educators and are learning incredibly fast.

Due to this amazingly integrated diabolo culture, the likes of which I have not seen in any other region of the world, there is an impressive number of diabolists in Taiwan and the skill level is unparalleled.  One thing I have heard various people say about the Taiwanese diabolists is that people outside of Taiwan don’t like that most of the styles and tricks tend to be the same from one diabolist to the next.  AIDC and the IDA are being smart, however, in that they are bringing in some of the most respected and creative diabolists from around the world to be part of their events.  Both Etienne Chauzy and Alexis Levillon were guest judges and workshop instructors for AIDC 2018.  By bringing in external talents, the diabolo culture is now being influenced with new levels of innovation and creativity within.

On the first day of the event, AIDC and IDA hosted a “welcome party.”  I showed up, expecting it to be a mingling affair with food and drinks, music and socializing.  Turns out a “welcome party” is something altogether different in Taiwan. I arrived in a meeting room of the university where the AIDC was held, and there was a long conference table with box lunches at each seat.

IRC East Asia

One by one people arrived and took their seats.  It was when the president of IDA arrived, that I learned who all of the people at this table were.  Each person was a head or president of a diabolo and/or juggling association from their country.  Gathered at the table was the diabolo and juggling association presidents of Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan, as well as representatives of the International Diabolo Association, and myself as the representative of the International Jugglers’ Association.  In one moment, I suddenly knew all the leaders of the diabolo and juggling scenes of the active countries of East Asia.  This meeting is one I would love to see replicated in various regions around the world.

When it came to hosting the IRC at this event and in Taiwan, it was predictable that there would be a predominant turnout of diabolists as competitors.  Sure enough, out of 17 total IRC entries, 11 of them were diabolists. And out of the 10 finalists, 6 of them solely did diabolo and 2 others included diabolo for a portion of their routine. See the full list of IRC East Asia 2018 Finalists.

IRC East Asia

In learning the history of AIDC, I discovered that when it started in 2005, the original goal was to make it be for juggling and diabolo.  The juggling teachers at the various schools were not interested in being involved with the event at that time however.  One of the goals of AIDC in partnering with the IJA to host the first IRC East Asia, was to encourage the juggling community of Taiwan and the rest of Asia, to attend the event and see how juggling could be more strongly integrated into the event in the future.

IRC East AsiaI had a neat experience during AIDC, where I taught juggling to three boys who had never tried it before. They literally got a flash of 3 balls in 2 minutes and a qualify in 6 minutes.  I then asked them, “How many of you can do 3 diabolo low?” … all of them raised their hands.  With the children developing advanced diabolo skills at such a young age, if juggling is introduced to the attendees of this event, the advancement of juggling in Taiwan (and Malaysia and Hong Kong and Singapore), has the potential to progress quickly and in a very technically proficient direction!

IRC East Asia 2018 Finals

The IJA Regional Competition was a successful event that was incredibly well received by the Taiwanese community, and also included competitors from Japan and Hong Kong.  The IJA is very respected in East Asia and the IRC was treated with a respect that reflects this.  The diabolo acts were diverse in skill level, presentation and execution, and the juggling acts (including a creative hat juggling routine, a four-person plate spinning routine, and a kendama juggling routine) were inspirational to see and gave insight into the fact that a larger juggling community exists and is growing within Taiwan and other represented countries.

Check out the IRC East Asia 2018 highlights video, recorded and edited by the AIDC team.

IRC East Asia

Gold Medalist: Cheng Yung Tsang

Congratulations to the medalists of the first ever IRC East Asia!

Gold: Cheng Yung Tsang of Taiwan
Silver: Yu Han Liao of Taiwan
Bronze: Chan Peng of Taiwan

A big thank you to Dada Huang, Andy Sui, Helen Shih and all of the AIDC organizing team for putting on such an impressive event.  I felt incredibly welcomed by the Taiwanese community and it truly became one of my most memorable countries to visit due to their welcoming, friendly, organized, clean, talented, beautiful and delicious culture.

IRC East Asia 2019 will once again be hosted by AIDC this coming July.

Erin Stephens currently lives in Burkina Faso, Africa and is performing with Yennega Circus. She has been an active organizer within the IJA for over 10 years, having been a founding member of the IJA Regional Competitions, Tricks of the Month video series, eJuggle, and has spearheaded the IJA social media platforms since 2012.

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