Monthly Archives: June 2019

Escape Room Adventure

Company team building event

I received word that we were going out on Thursday night after our company meetings. No one knew where we were going which resulted in many conversations with growing anticipation. Since there was a high level of secrecy, I knew it was going to be good. Turns out, Seattle Escape Games was our destination and most of us were excited.

Let the games begin

After we arrived and signed in, we waited in a lounge area for the 1st round of teams to enter their Escape Rooms. Along with the event, our company provided catering. With 4 escape rooms and 7 teams, each round had time to kill.

I watched with anticipation as the 1st round of groups went to the escape rooms. I was in the 2nd round which gave me time to play a couple of games of Corn Hole. Along with this, I had the pleasure of watching 2 team members play a mean game of Jenga. They were amazing at it.

As we were relaxing in the lounge area, we could hear teams celebrating their accomplishments which added to our excitement. Each team has 60 minutes to figure out all the clues and escape the room. Each room has a watcher guiding us through the do’s and don’ts of the game. We were allowed to ask for help solving a clue, the 1st one was free. Each clue we asked for after the freebie, cost us a minute of our allotted time.

Turns out there was a low success rate with the 1st round, only one team made it out. Wow, this was going to be hard.

The Bank Job

We got the call to proceed to our Escape Room, which we chose The Bank Job. We were robbing a rival Mob Boss with an inside man that was supposed to be helping us. First, it was a poor choice to trust a Con Man, second, what am I doing locking myself in a room with 3 other people looking for an escape? Our company is full of smart, High D type of personalities, which can cause conflict if we don’t work together. I decided as a team member to let my other team members work their strengths and I would work mine. Needless to say, I was grateful we had a couple of “numbers” people on our team. I knew that would be important.

Finding the 1st clue

It was absolutely exciting to find that 1st clue. We went to work fast looking for that 1st clue which resulted in a quick find. The clue we found was easy. The problem was we were clearly overthinking the solution which slowed us down. With each clue, came new problems to overcome. Figuring out the clues resulted in an extremely rewarding feeling of accomplishment. We opened False doors, and crawl spaces. Sometimes, a new clue would send us running back to the starting point to retrieve corresponding clues. I remember bursting through a crawl space on my way back to the team with an answer, took the turn too quickly, and rammed my arm into a door jam. Yep, that was going to leave a mark.

Does it ever end

Every time we thought this clue would lead to our escape, we were wrong; the clues kept coming. We pulled together as a team and ended up getting out of volt in the end. When the volt door opened, we started yelling, throwing high fives, congratulating ourselves and enjoying the celebration. Our watcher comes down and congratulates us for getting out. Something told me that he was delivering bad news. We ended up asking for help 3 times which used up 2 minutes of our time which left us with only 45 seconds left on the clock. Darn! We were 1 minute 15 seconds over our time and considered “Captured”

Lessons learned

  • We are only as strong as our other team members. We couldn’t have done it without each other
  • Observation is key
  • Don’t dismiss something you see or hear
  • Don’t over think situations
  • Slow down; I still have a bit of a bruise on my arm. :=)

Is it for you?

I had a blast! If you are not afraid of small spaces and being locked in a room for an hour, I highly recommend you find an Escape Room and give it a try. If you like challenges, this is for you. Can you work with other team members and utilize each other’s strengths? If you can, this is for you.

Add another to my list

I wanted to try an escape room adventure. I can gladly say that I did. My next escape room adventure is on my horizon; maybe next time I am in Seattle or I understand we have one that has opened near my home. My list of Been There Done That adventures is growing.

Facebooklinkedinyoutubeinstagramby feather
Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather

The Sword Experience

The Sword Experience

My latest adventure

In January, I wrote down my top goals for 2019. Attending The Sword Experience was on that list and I can now check it off as complete. Watching the tour dates, I saw they booked a Texas event at the Austin Comic Con 2019. It was the perfect weekend getaway I had been looking for. I bought a Comic Con ticket and booked the event.

Picking up a sword was new to me. I am always looking for ways to enhance my fitness journey and I wanted to try it. I’m glad that I did. The experience made me recognize some areas in my life that I have been struggling with for 6 years now.

Check-in

I checked-in at Adrian’s booth at the Comic Con as instructed. The team delivered all of the promised benefits for the Gold level of The Sword Experience. (Autographed picture of Adrian Paul, armband for the event, a picture with Adrian Paul, and my bokken autographed the 2nd day.) I had the pleasure of meeting Anise and Beverly, as they revealed that they are amazing and bring a high level of customer care to the table. It is evident they take pride in Adrian and his work.

What is The Sword Experience?

Adrian founded The Sword Experience, as a way to pass on some of the knowledge he learned while working with world renowned action stars, stunt choreographers, and sword masters. To date, the testimonials speak for themselves. Not only has it given people a chance to receive the best sword fighting tips and techniques, training with some of the best sword experts around, but it has also given people a chance to do something different, to improve their fitness, their communication skills, their abilities, along with the chance to do something they may have only dreamed about.

The Sword Experience website-click to read entire about us page

The Event

It was exciting and nerve-racking to be in a room full of people swinging bokkens (practice swords). I was feeling a sense of empowerment as we practiced the Attack Numbering system and the Defense Numbering system. Adrian Paul (the founder of The Sword Experience and The Peace Fund, Actor, Director, Martial Arts Expert) and Anthony Buonomo (Teacher from Austin Historical Weapons Guild) were guiding us on our form and footwork.

There were many age groups and many different personalities in the room. The large diversity of the attendees and spectators was surprising. Each one of us had personal reasons for being there. Mine was to step out of my comfort zone and investigate the adventurous side of myself that I have tucked away.

Practice

We learned choreographed moves that were based on a scene out of Batman Returns. There were different moves in each of the 4 groups. We split up into practice groups and practiced our moves with an attacker coming at us. The feeling of Empowerment shifted to fear. It was a totally different experience with someone coming at you, which changed my frame of mind completely. I now feel exposed and uncomfortable.

The attackers learned the choreography for all 4 groups. They would alternate between attacking a person in each of the groups.

I continued to practice my moves off to the side as they shuffled practice groups in and out. I kept walking through the routine knowing how challenging it was to face off with someone. Anthony was a big help and guided me through my struggles with form and footwork.

Filming

After learning and practicing for 2 1/2 hours, it was time to film the scene. I am looking forward to seeing the results of the footage. We all lined up in 3 rows, down on 1 knee. We followed the command to stand, step out and present our bokkens. That was cool to see a group of people work together as a team and perform those moves as a group. Keep in mind we had 2 1/2 hours to learn it and practice it.

Oh, by the way, we were all dressed as Ninjas, except for the attackers. After shooting the opening entrance and the presentation, the attacks began. I had a great time and watching the filming process was actually like working on a movie set.

What I learned about myself

I have been trying to rediscover myself again for some time now. After the event, I did some soul searching and dug into some things that Adrian pointed out to me. He mentioned that I am holding onto stress and tension and instructed me to loosen my grip to let the bokken move with the hits. That stress and tension were holding me back. I wanted to know how and why I went from being confident, and outgoing to becoming a weekend recluse and homebody.

I can trace it back to 2 life-changing events. The accident I suffered 6 years ago affected my outlook and personality in many ways. I no longer trust myself or my decisions, I let fear hold me back which restrains my inner self (click to read about my accident). I have a friend and mentor that reminds me to let my inner Catherine out. Recognizing why I am holding back has been a struggle for me. This experience has helped me piece together the why’s which should help me overcome it.

Thank you

The event ran late and The Sword Experience team asked the Gold Experience attendees to come back to the booth at the Comic Con the next day to have our bokken autographed as promised. This would give me the opportunity to thank Adrian, Beverly, and Anise.

I arrive at the booth with bokken in hand and thanked Anise. She handed me a certificate that stated that I had crossed swords with Adrian Paul and survived. That was a cool certificate. I approached Adrian and handed him my bokken. He asked me if I enjoyed the event and I expressed that I was disappointed in my performance. He seemed confused and asked, why? I started talking and tears started pouring out of my eyes.

Remember, I have been holding back for a long time. Crying is one of those things I hold back on. I try to control my emotions and not let my emotions control me. I felt absolutely mortified by my actions. Adrian was gracious and understanding. As he reassured me, I regained my composure and thanked him and Beverly.

From a fitness standpoint

I have been teaching fitness classes for over 30 years. It was my 1st career and is now my “hobby” career. Before my accident, I taught a kickboxing class 2 to 3 times per week. The bag was a great place to let out the tension from my daily, high-stress job that I held at the time. After my accident, returning to kickboxing was difficult and I eventually gave it up. I currently teach PiYo and Turbo Kick. Both are great workouts but I enjoy trying new things to kick it up a notch.

When Adrian pointed out that I was holding on to tension, it brought me back to my kickboxing days. Punching and kicking that bag resulted in letting all that tension out. Adrian grabbed the bokken, started moving it and instructed me to let it move with the hit to let the tension out. He later told me, during my emotional moment, still embarrassed about that, to use the bokken as a tool to release the tension. In my mind, I went back to the boxing bag and how I used that as a tool for stress relief. Each piece of the puzzle is helping me understand myself better.

By the way, that was an amazing workout! The warm-up started with holding a squat for a minute. Everyone was like, yeah, I can do that. Adrian chuckled and said, “you say that now”. Within 30 seconds the room started erupting with loud breath releases and groaning. It was awesome! By the time we were done with the learning and practice sessions, everyone was sweating, red-faced and in disbelief of how challenging and invigorating it was.

Will I do it again?

Yes, I want to participate in this event again. I am going to continue to practice the attack and defense numbering system and maybe find a local teacher that can help instruct me. Now I know what to expect and it won’t be the first time having a bokken swung at me. That should boost my confidence.

One more thing added to my “Been There Done That” list. Whoop Whoop!

Catherine Bares

Facebooklinkedinyoutubeinstagramby feather
Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather