Sunday, May 22, 2005

Tournament Tale

So Saturday I go over to Hughes, by myself. Aimee and Heidi are walking in when I go in. "Hey, how ya doing?" I wave. My throat is sore--I woke up with a sore throat this morning, really early.

Inside, there's a crowd of people getting ready in the hall; the dojang is set up for the competition with cones and a huge table full of trophies on the stage. I get dressed and take my bags (one for sparring gear; one for my cameras and water) out into the dojang where Aimee and I go over our forms.

There are fewer people at the tournament than I expected. Fewer than last year, too, I'm told by someone. Master Hughes calls us all together and tells us that classes will be combined since there's a small crowd. He doesn't seem too bothered that it's a small crowd; Master Hughes seems to take things in stride.

Matthew, Brian's son is there. Aimee, Heidi, and I keep an eye on him; Matthew's mom is in the back row of chairs, too. I wish I remembered her name.

Here are some memorable moments from the day.

Black Belts
The black belts went first, with forms and breaking. It was good to watch them--first so you know what you're supposed to do when your name is called, and second, to get inspired by them!

Ms. Pryor (looks like she's changed her name to Ms. Calef--I'm not sure of the story there) did her awesome form, but she had trouble breaking--I think it took her 3 tries. Her perseverence is inspiring to me--I'm going to do the same break, a flying side kick, but with only ONE board.

I take photos of Justin's breaking (he breaks everything 1st time!) and am amazed by Chelsea's form and breaking--she ends in the splits as she does a knife-hand strike to break a board--awesome.

I decide to take some photos of Matthew. It's fun to watch Master Hughes working with the children. He does so with encouragement and a sense of humor. Plus he really challenges those kids.

My class
My class is a combination. I'm in with Pam (blue belt, maybe my category), Aimee (orange belt, age 25), and Heidi (yellow belt, age 25). I like those women. We sit and chat and encourage each other.

We're asked to do forms first. I do my best job on my form Do San, though I KNOW my stances are not wide enough for Master Hughes! I get third after Pam and Aimee. I did some things better than Aimee (like looking first before I move, and action/reaction in my punches) but her stances are awesome, she's faster and just SCARY when she does it!

Next is breaking, and everyone seems to have trouble with the boards, like Ms. Pryor. I'm a bit worried as I'm doing two breaks. But when it's my turn, I find there aren't enough board holders for me to do tow in a row. So I do one at a time. The board snaps as I reverse kick!

"You're ahead now, Jane. You can do your next break or not. Up to you," says Master Hughes.

I think a minute.

"I want to do it. I've never done it before, and I want to try."

Maybe that wasn't the right thing to say. As I set up, I hear Master Hughes laughing. "I'm not gonna look," he says to Chelsea. Humpf!

I size up the board, become one with it, breathe, and run. My kick lands fair and square and the board snaps.

Unfortunately, when I get back to my place, I realize I'd forgotten to give the camera to Aimee. NO picture! Still, I win the trophy for first in breaking!

Sparring doesn't go as well. I lose quickly to Heidi who is fast and strong. "That's why I didn't want to spar her," says Aimee when I sit down. At the end, Aimee and I spar, and I score a few times, but Aimee wins.

I wanted to show Master Hughes that I can spar, but I didn't. That's the biggest disappointment. But sparring is still my favorite activity, I think. Pam says later that I should go for more kicks to the head. "You're flexible. You should do it," she encourages me. I think about asking Ms. Pryor for some coaching sometime.

The rest of the tournament is relaxing as we watch the men, the children's flying side kick contest and belt-tying contest. I chat with Patrick, who has won 1st in forms and 3rd in breaking, and his Dad, Tim, who is very disappointed that he missed Patrick's competition.

When I come home no one seems particularly interested in hearing about the tournament. The boys are somewhat intrigued by my trophies, but somehow that doesn't lead to talk about what happened there. Instead, Bruce gets out his speech trophies so the boys can have a trophy-admiring day!

One of my Karate Forums colleagues has a signature file that says something like Tournaments are the least important part of TKD. After being at one, I think I'd agree.
The tournament:
  • Gave me something to work toward
  • Gave me a chance to hang out with TKD people for part of a day
  • Gave me a chance to do my stuff in front of the head teacher
  • Gave me a chance to practice calm self-confidence under pressure
  • Gave me something to write about.

But I don't really think that competing for trophies is the heart of martial arts, or GETTING trophies is. I prefer classes, and even promotional tests to the tournament.

Any thoughts from any of you about the importance of competition in something like martial arts?

Watch for more pictures soon! I'm going to get a flying side kick photo this week, I hope. Then my film from my film camera will be done, and I'll get more pictures posted here.


Anonymous said...

The most impressive thing to me is the practice of calm self confidence under pressure. I have always admired athletes and other people who can do this. I suppose it is part of the martial arts teaching and that you can learn this as much as you learn s[arring and breaking boards. Still, I do think the tropies are a good thing--tangible evidence of your achievement. You could put them in your office as conversation starters with students!

Kerrie said...

The previous anonymous posting was me! Still learning my way around the blogosphere.