Want to know where we came from? This is from the WGI website:
From Timing, Angles and Uniformity to Style, Expression and Skills
When Color Guard as a competitive activity was young, we enjoyed a military approach where flags were carried erect, and only presented in formal salute. Rifles really did shoot, sabers really did thrust, and were used to guard the National Color. We did only a prescribed manual of arms based on a military code entitled FM22-5. From these roots of militarism, we incorporated historic ceremonies of pageantry and royalty, and somehow evolved into an amazing display of technical skills, manipulating a growing number of equipment pieces. In an unusually short time we eliminated the requirement to function around the National Color, eliminated penalties of major magnitude, and moved into an incredibly skilled artistic display.
In the beginning, our prime function was to present our skill with precision. We did not have a diverse range of "performing personalities" upon which we drew. We all shared one attitude and look. We did not alter time or weight in the handling of equipment. We worked to be constant, and rewarded the consistency and sameness of each effort. The body was little more than the means to present the equipment skills, and we drew upon a limited and common vocabulary. In the beginning we wore "slings" that held the flag in a fixed position attached to our bodies. We did such prescribed moves as order, right shoulder and present, but we made a production of those skills. Some put plastic or metal "cups" inside the sling so you could hear that "click" when the flag was precisely put into the sling. This little trick was considered very cool. Finally we became bold, and started to do slams to the side, and wowed the world when we began to do front spins and weapon tosses. The advent of double time with rifles assured all of us that we had discovered the "ultimate" in equipment handling. We valued precision and accuracy. We recorded every deviation from uniformity as a "tick", and our score sheets focused on TIMING, ANGLES, UNIFORMITY AND HANDS. Just as the priorities changed in how we judged marching, we went through the discovery process that took us from the objective recording of error, to the subjective recognition of achievement.
The handling of equipment is not common to our daily life. It is a defined, acquired art. Its use requires development of both large and small motor skills, requiring knowledge of the muscle groups of the hands and arms. This recognition serves as a cornerstone within this caption and adjudication.
The arrival of MUSIC, and the evolution of STORYLINE or THEME shows, led us in a different direction. Music demanded considerations of tempo phrasing, dynamics and multiple lines. We explored interpretation, and soon we began to look for the equipment to reflect musical qualities. In our early days we recognized "hard sell" and "soft sell" as our only stylistic choices. Later we began to portray characters, both defined and abstract, and our equipment became a "tool" that helped to define/depict these characters. We even grew to explore the inner workings of a phrase with accented notes, crescendos, retards, etc. Then we began to handle the equipment in a manner befitting the role we played. We realized that we derived more information through the blend of the equipment with the body, and EXPRESSION was born. Perhaps the greatest impact on our equipment "roots" was the inclusion of body variations because it altered our equipment reference points, changed the balance of many equipment moves, and required the judge to recognize both equipment and body since the two had become so interdependent. Now equipment is manipulated by all parts of the body, by a second piece of equipment, defies balance as never before, and new discovery is still occurring each year.
The equipment judge must be open to new skills never before seen, and be able to evaluate the expanding techniques behind their presentation.
As already stated, equipment was previously presented set on vertical bodies, where reference points were established relative to the shoulders, waist and body center. Things made sense. Hand positions were defined, and the equipment remained front and center. There was no confusion in viewing its statement; timing and accuracy was easy to see and measure. We still teach basics in this mode. Today's challenges test the talent of these young men and women by requiring that the principles be applied to changing shapes and rapidly moving bodies that must perform physical feats of significant stature. While doing this, they must emote, entertain, tell a story and never miss a beat. Once the show begins, the performer's reference points and balance are changed. They now must overlay a visual image of what they've learned to this moving grid as they move or dance. They must do the same kinds of things with their arms and hands in motion or on dance, requiring them to know and control the place WHERE THE HAND MEETS THE EQUIPMENT, with the motion beneath it. Our creativity continues to grow and expand as our equipment explores new and exciting challenges, multi-dimensional patterns, and creates dramas, music and stories.