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Gajda on overcoming obstacles and his match against Qudans

Despite his disability, Gajda is one of the best Tekken players in Poland.

Gajda pictured with Qudans

Gajda on overcoming obstacles and his match against Qudans

You may know him from the Polish Tekken World Tour event where he was close to winning against Qudans in a super-hyped match. Adam Gajda (pronounced as “guyda”) proves that nothing is impossible. Despite his disability, he is one of the best Tekken players in Poland. Gajda can use any character, but his mains have always been Mishimas and he is able to wavedash with ease.

Hi Adam! We have known each other for 14 years now and I am really happy we can have you here. Could you introduce yourself to our readers?

Hi Di! My name is Adam Gajda and I come from Poland, I live in Wroclaw and my nickname in the Polish Tekken community is Gajda, pronounced as “guyda”. It is simply the same as my surname.

What games do you play outside of fighting games? I remember you telling me once that you had finished Vagrant Story over 20 times. That’s quite a lot.

Actually it was more than 30. I was young and stubborn… now I am over 30 and I still love playing console games. RPGs and fighting games are among the ones I enjoy the most.

Which Tekken game is your favorite one and why?

This is a hard question, and the truth is that every Tekken is my favourite Tekken. The emotions you feel during a match are the same, regardless of the game you are playing – if you win, you are happy, if you lose, you are sad. You can see it during the tournaments, how players react after the match, how the crowd reacts with hype. For me it is like a boost. I learn something new at every tournament and during every match and I think that is the best part of Tekken, so I can share no numbers in my personal ranking of all time. The ranking just doesn’t exist.

This is a very interesting point of view. So let me ask you this: Which Tekken game have you played the most?

I think those were Tekken 3 and Tekken 6. During the Tekken 3 era I was in primary school so I had a lot of time to play Tekken and there were many good players around. During Tekken 6 I was working as a security officer outside the town, in a tar factory. It was so boring to check the buildings around once in 2 hours during my shift (one shift lasted for 16 hours) so I talked to my supervisor for the permission to bring my PS3 (as the TV had been already there) and he said: “Do whatever you want during the shift, just don’t sleep.” So in the end it combined business with pleasure.

Wow, you were very lucky. Did you also want to practice at home or was there too much Tekken and you preferred to do something else in your actual free time?

I definitely preferred doing something else, like spending time with family, friends and other hobbies, but practicing alone was not enough so once or twice a week me and my friends were playing Tekken at my place.

Throughout the years you have used different characters, including Xiaoyu, Hwoarang and Mishimas. You used to main Master Raven in Tekken 7 but now your main character is Jin. Why are you playing him?

Jin has always been my main and one of my most favorite characters in fighting games, his evolution during the Tekken series is amazing. Mixing Mishima style and traditional karate was the classic bullseye! He has everything you need: wavedash, EWHF, parry, very good pokes and even a hopkick. In Tekken 7 his scenes after you win a match are so cool that, honestly, I think they are the best in the series for all versions of Jin. With wavedash you can control the space between you and opponent, EWHF gives you plus frames, with parry you gain unique defensive options for punishing, his pokes are very good in field game, can be used for both attack and defense. Hopkick? For some players it is the last resort – very risky but also very powerful.

Several years ago one of the Polish TV stations featured a video about you and your trip to Berlin for Berlin Tekken Clash III. You got quite famous in Poland after winning that tournament. Could you share your Tekken story?

It is a long story, so I’ll try to make it short. My first experience with Tekken was in 1995. Me and my older friend with a help of his sister (we were under-aged, I was 11 and he was 13) bought a PSX system from Japan with two games: Tekken and Ridge Racer. It cost all of ours savings but it was worth. We shared the console, one week for me and one week for him. After 3 years our PSX got broken, so I convinced my grandmother to buy me a new one with Tekken 3 on Christmas Eve. With Tekken 3 a new era for players in Poland started, a lot of tournaments were organized and with the help of gaming magazines Tekken 3 was getting more recognition. My first tournament was in my home city, Opole. There were about 40 players, including 3 of the top Polish players. I finished tournament at 6th place, but I won with Poland’s second best player 3:0 (Xiaoyu vs Jin). They couldn’t believe what they had seen, they convinced me to participate in future tournaments. Those were hard times – trying to convince my grandmother to travel all around Poland to participate in tournaments (I was 14). But when I showed her an article about my participation and my victory over the aforementioned player in the biggest Polish console magazine, she changed her mind and told me: “Because you have got good grades in school, I trust you. I’ll give you my permission but please be careful.” For me that moment was the beginning of my Tekken journey throughout the years. It is only a small part of my story. During those years I won a lot of tournaments and I was almost always in top 8.

You were 11 when you started playing Tekken? I’m not sure if you were old enough for the Japanese age rating! (laughs) You can feel lucky that your grandma did not know about this.

You are absolutely right about the Japanese age rating but those were the 90’s, me and my friend were very creative. On a side note, I feel lucky – when my grandma saw me playing Tekken, she asked: “Are they fighting?”, and I replied: “Yes, they are. But don’t worry, it is similar to a sport discipline like judo, karate, kung-fu and there is no blood!” After that I had no problems playing games until the end of high school.

You are an inspiration for many people. How important is it for you?

I’m aware that I’m an inspiration for a lot of players. At the beginning it scared me, after some time it annoyed me but when I got more wisdom as a human I started becoming proud of it. I needed a lot of time to learn how to win and how to lose. It was very hard but it was worth. Because of that I have a lot of wonderful friends who always support me. They admire me not only for my skill and manual but also for my calm nature, happiness and friendship. They are always with me. It doesn’t matter if I lose or if I win. When I win people say to me: “Wonderful games and victory, you deserve it!”, but when I lose people say: “How could you have lost to that player, you are 10 times better!” Many people don’t know how to answer that so they will say that I was lucky or that it was not my day. I, for example, will answer like that: “Do you see how happy my opponent is? Try to think that way: this player is a streamer and has lots of fans, after the tournament they will share happiness and joy with fans and viewers, maybe some of them will even participate in future tournaments thanks to the positive vibes, and that is good for all of us – more new players, more new play styles and, especially, more new friends who will build the community.”

When we finished seeding brackets for Fighting Games Challenge, I looked at your pool and it just clicked. “For real, they need to play against each other,” I thought. And you did. Your match versus Qudans was one of the highlights of that tournament.

The match against Qudans was something big for me. He is a Mishima player just like me. In the past when people said that Maddogjin was the best, even though I generally agreed, my personal favorite was Qudans. Later the same happened with Nin and Knee, so for me this match was like my childhood dream. A dream that came true, and I’m proud that I could play an equal match against last year’s world champion who is my most favorite Mishima player of all time! I lost this match but on the other hand I won the appreciation of a lot of people in the community from all over the world, and a new friend. Thank you, Qudans, for an awesome battle and fulfilling the dream to play a great match against one of the best players in the world! And of course big thanks to my grandmother and my friends, they always support me and always believe in me. You are the best.

Will you mind me asking about how you hold the controller and press buttons? When people ask me about you, I always tell them to try pressing the d-pad with their fist. It is super hard to even achieve a satisfying level of precision and yet you can wavedash and backdash pretty damn fast…

Another hard question, but I’ll try to do my best to answer it. Before I start a match I always need a comfortable chair or an armchair, or possibly a sofa, so that my feet can touch the ground and my knees can stick together. If those conditions are met, I can place the controller at the end of my knees. Pressing buttons for me is a normal thing but for somebody who doesn’t know me it is something exotic or even unimaginable. I don’t have my left palm but there is a very small part of the thumb so I can use it on the d-pad. My right hand has got two fingers but during the game I use only one finger to operate four buttons. In the past I also used trigger buttons but during the Tekken 5 era I decided to leave it because pressing multiple face buttons was simply more comfortable than trying to press shoulder buttons.

Have you ever tried playing on a different controller?

I have tried many types of controllers and sticks, I can use almost all of them. Sometimes I like to use a stick to show my friends how to do PEWGF or JFSR but it costs me a lot of energy, my left arm is much weaker than the right one so after three or four games I’m tired. Most of the time I use a DualShock controller (with enabled vibrations, as I like to feel when the electric hits the target!). For me it is very comfortable during freeplays and tournaments.

This question may confuse you because I am Polish, but I would like to ask you to tell our readers about the Polish community, as this is one of the key points of this interview series. How does it look like now, who are the best players, how many people play, etc.? Some interesting trivia is also welcome!

The Polish community has many talented players and people who help building it. People who help building community are of course tournaments organizers and the best in Poland are without a doubt ManieQ and Bart. Every year they are organizing one of the biggest tournaments in Poland. And we cannot forget about people who help Polish Tekken community to be more recognizable outside of the country: Tenshimitsu (she was also an organizer of Polish majors in the past), brothers Devil and Matt-JF who are top European players and you, the guy who doesn’t need any introduction (laugh). Now about players, as I said at the beginning we have many talented people – Devil (Kazuya/Bob), Frizen (Steve/Lars) and Matt-JF (Steve) are the best. Other top players are: Nevan (Nina and finally Anna!), Caradolph (Dragunov/Bob), Tenshimitsu (Yoshimitsu), Tokis (Josie/Eddy) and Bati (King/Dragunov). They are definitely the top players here but we also have many more who might reach the top in the future: Benek (Kazuya/Bryan), K’ (Law/Devil Jin), Mace (Josie), Kotlaska (Lucky Chloe/Alisa), Pychu (Asuka/Gigas) and Rupert (Miguel). All of them are very skilled and talented players and we can see them at most Polish tournaments. Other than the skill, there is also a matter of friendship. And with these people around you can never get bored!

Do you have any plans for travelling abroad this year? Will we see each other in Amsterdam?

Yes, I do. I’m planning to go to Berlin Tekken Clash III in Berlin and of course to Amsterdam during my overdue vacations, so Tekken World Tour finals are on my to-do list. I want to see with my own eyes how people will cheer top players from all over the world.

Any final words for our readers?

Hmm. Never complain after your loss. Enjoy every game and do your best!

Thanks, Adam!

Former writer for SDTEKKEN, TekkenZaibatsu and 8WAYRUN. Used to play Tekken and Soulcalibur competitively, currently focuses on helping tournament organizers and the community in general.Works in the video game industry and has been credited in multiple titles, including Ultra Street Fighter IV, Street Fighter X Tekken (PC), Mortal Kombat XL (PC) and Injustice 2. Teaches math and English. Loves pandas, red sneakers and ice cream.

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