Dragon Boating: A Brief History and The Corporate Connection
Originating in China over 2000 years ago, dragon boating has emerged as one of the fastest growing water sports across the globe. Chinese dragons are legendary creatures in Chinese mythology and Chinese folklore. ... Chinese dragons traditionally symbolize potent and auspicious powers, particularly control over water, rainfall, typhoons, and floods. The Dragon Boat, by extension, is deeply embedded in China's 'Dragon' culture, with each Boat having an ornately carved dragon's head at the Bow and a tail in the Stern. The Hull is painted with the Dragon's scales. The paddles symbolically represents the claws.
A standard dragon boat holds a crew of 22; 20 paddlers, a drummer who sets the rhythm of the boat and a stern, or cox, who steers the boats and gives the commands to the paddlers.
Since the 1970’s the sport of dragon boating has seen a steady rise in growth with teams throughout the world competing in various local, regional, national and international regattas. Although it still does not hold the distinction of being an Olympic Sport, a push has been made in this direction, and it may just get there yet!
So, what’s the big attraction with dragon boating? Well, for a start, it’s an excellent team sport, with EVERY paddler playing an equally important role in the boat. Synchronicity is the key – paddlers must work very closely together and “lock in” to the rhythm of the boat. Timing, at a competitive level, needs to be precise, with all stages of the stroke being executed at the same time by each paddler. It’s also a great workout, leaving the participant feeling exhilarated and energized after a challenging training session or race.
For the sportsperson, therefore, there are huge benefits to dragon boating – the unity of a team sport alongside the development of muscular and cardio vascular fitness, and sport specific technique.
But how does dragon boating fit into the corporate realm where the average participant varies significantly in terms of age, experience, fitness and sporting aptitude?
At a corporate level, dragon boating presents an ideal opportunity for members of a company team to work together in a surprisingly inclusive and equalizing activity. Contrary to some perceptions, Dragon boating at the corporate level does not require any high degree of athleticism or skill. In fact, the corporate teams that meet that with the most success are the simply the ones that work together closely as a TEAM. The benefits from a team building perspective are plentiful; the opportunity first and foremost to get out of the office and into the outdoors. To mix up the workplace status quo and combine different personalities, departments, and workplace roles into one team with a common goal. To engage in a process that sees participants going from knowing virtually nothing about the sport, to racing their colleagues only a short time later. To rely on both verbal and non -verbal communication, and practice awareness of what others are doing around you, to coordinate your efforts both physically and mentally, whilst learning something brand new AND seeking that competitive edge. That’s what dragon boating can offer.
Cooperation. Communication. Commitment. The key to success in both arenas.