As I mentioned previously, yesterday was the Petersburg Karate Open. I try to compete every year, and I encourage my students to do so as well. Its a very well run tournament and over the years the promoter has gotten to know me. Thanks me personally for coming every year and for bringing what students I can. He even asks me how my dad is doing, since he hasn't been able to make it as often since retiring to West Virginia. Lewis Clay Sensei is a quality guy.
I didn't win big this year in kata (empty hand forms) or weapons. In fact I didn't even place this in the top four this year. This actually surprised a few other competitors. My forms were strong and I executed well, however there were a bunch of other people that did too. It wasn't bad judging, its just the pool of competition was a deep on this year. No whining from me, I'll just have to try harder next go around. And yes, that is a picture of me from last year's tournament. Maybe I should have kept the beard, I did better then.
We had four other competitors from our group this year. It was their first time at a tournament for each of them. The two boys both did kata only, which I encouraged since they had not seen kumite (fighting) at an open tournament and its really a good idea to see it before you jump in. Both of their divisions were pretty stacked and the odds were against them. They performed well, but didn't make the top four. I'm proud of both of them.
Then there were the girls. The fairer sex. Dainty, delicate, little flowers.
The little yellow belt that went is indeed a pretty little girl with long blonde hair. Then she bows onto the floor and becomes a powerhouse. She didn't make the top four in kata, but I'm sure she very close. Her kata division was huge and there was a lot of talent in it. Then she got to the kumite. In forms divisions at this tournament, boys and girls compete together. For kumite they are split up. This little girl has no problem at all fighting whoever we put in front in her. She's got three brothers, so she's high speed and low drag all the way. I passed by her on my way out of my right as she sat with her bright pink sparring gear on at the edge of her ring waiting to see who would be paired up first. I whisper a couple last minute instructions and words of encouragement to her as I passed.
That kid took her first opponent apart. Then the next one. Then the next one. Next thing she knows there a first place trophy in front of her. She took those other girls apart like a math problem. She calmly determined their strategies, worked out the simplest counter, and started racking up points. The whole time she had a look on her face like she was reading a slightly dull book. I asked her afterwards if she thought she would win first place.
"Yeah. I'm pretty good at kumite."
Not bragging, just a matter of fact assessment of her own abilities and the confidence to go out and do what she does best.
She wasn't the only girl we had out there. During my absence from the internet one of my twin daughters took up the training. She just turned five, so she's not all hardcore yet and its mostly for fun. She said she wanted to compete. She wanted a trophy like the kind daddy's got in the garage. I told her to practice and she was a bit unsure as to the concept of training for a tournament and both me kids are headstrong little things. She doesn't fight yet, so I let her go out to do kata. I managed to slip away from my events long enough to see her. The Missus was a nervous wreck. The center judge was Preston Rogers Sensei who is very well known here in Virginia, and he was absolutely amazing in dealing with those little kids.
I got to see my daughter tie for second place, and she performed well in the tie breaker, but got edged out. Still she's got her very own third place trophy with has barely left her hands since she got it. Its on her nightstand as I type this. The Missus called my father who called me last night, he's quite proud.
She didn't practice as much as she should have, but she did work for it. She went out and behaved well, and did her best. She performed strongly and that got her, finally, a trophy of her very own. Yes I know trophies aren't the most important thing in the world, but she's now seen what hard work can earn you, and that's a pretty big deal.
So I'm a bit disappointed that I didn't get a trophy myself, but that's nothing compared to how proud I am of those kids.
Asian Terminator Skateboard FAIL! Yeah, you read that right.
That's it for me this go-around. I've got more practicing to do since the next tournament is in June. For now though, I'll see Y'all Wednesday.