What is Color Guard?

What is Color Guard? That is a question people ask me every single day. It was also a question I had when I was nine years old. A dear friend of mine wondered if I would like to come with her one day to her sport; Color Guard. I was very intrigued and decided to see what it was about. Now, years later, I am happy to share everything I know about the sport I have come to love.

The sport first came to be during the Civil War in America. Soldiers would want to have a band to accompany them on the battlefield. The band also requested for a person to carry the “colors” meaning the American Flag. Many years later the sport has evolved into what it is known as today.

Color Guard today involves dance, music, competition, fitness, discipline, choreography and a healthy dose of sportsmanship. Using music and dance the guard will tell a story to the public. A common theme in many shows is loss or something that conveys great emotion. A show that I still remember to this day, was a story about Anne Frank by a group called Beatrix.

Color Guard also makes use of three pieces of equipment: flag, sabre, and rifle. The flags are designed to fit with the story. The sabre is a metal sword. The rifle is a wooden gun with a leather strap.

While the flag, sabre, and rifle are the three main equipment’s, there are still many more things that a guard can use. As is usually the case when being creative, your imagination is your only limit. There have been shows that have made use of chairs, tables, a school board, benches, ladders, mirrors etc. The guard can use anything to help them tell their story.

There is a difference between Summer and Winter, for those that participate in Color Guard. In the Summer Color Guard joins a Marching band or Drum corps. The Marching band or Drum corps create the music, while the Color Guard tells the story. Both stand on the field (usually a football field) and move together to “wow” the audience. During the Winter the groups separate and go indoors. The traditional marching band music heard during the Summer is replaced with a recording of various musical genres. The gymnasium floor typically is covered by an individually designed tarp (called a floor mat or floor by members) that generally reflects the show being performed on it. Occasionally the floor only acts as a backdrop so that the audience is drawn towards what the members are doing.

In the Netherlands, Color Guard is divided into eight categories: Prep Class, Kids Class, Cadet Class, Junior Class, Regional A-Class, A-Class, Open Class, and World Class. If you were to look international the categories change a bit. This is because in the Netherlands all guards are independent. But, in America (where Color Guard originates from) you can join a guard at your own school. The international categories are the following: Middle School, Regional A, Scholastic A, Independent A, Scholastic Open, Independent Open, Scholastic World, or Independent World.

So, this is a short introduction to Color Guard. To me, and many more, Color Guard isn’t just a sport it’s a lifestyle. The guard becomes your second family and the things you learn there can be useful later in life. After all, if you’re able to throw a sword in the air and catch it in front of thousands of people, giving a presentation in front of a small group of people will seem very easy. Not only that, but you’ll also meet people you wouldn’t have met anywhere else in the world.

If this still unknown sport has caught your interest you can check the following links:

Dutch: http://www.colorguard.org/index.php
English: http://www.colorguard.org/index.php?&sitelang=2

Now that you’ve read about it, you can also see Color Guard in action through the following links:

Winter Guard montage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1mgkpIJoq0
Summer Guard montage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_WLUy1LO0E
Winter Guard full show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXjoXfro5ko
Summer Guard full show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmbeqWedT4k

Written by;

Cheryl Bos

Iwi Center

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