Saturday, October 22, 2005

Practice tournament

"Today we're going to practice tournament etiquette," says Justin, who's teaching all-belts today. "I was at a tournament a few weeks ago, and most people's etiquette was not good."

We're all sitting on the floor at the back of the dojang. Justin has set up a small area for our touranment practice, about 15 x15. He and the black belts and some high browns are sitting on chairs, just like judges would. The rest of us are competitors.

Tournament etiquette is all about respect and self-confidence. We practice jumping up, bowing, and saying "yes, sir" when our names are called. We bow before we enter the ring, and bow to the judges, standing at attention to recite our name and form.

I'm glad Justin wants to work on this. It's a good way to show you're serious about your activity in the tournament: to begin with good etiquette. Plus, the movements help you focus.

Unfortunately, I haven't practiced or even THOUGHT about my forms in a long while. We didn't work on them Wednesday, so I figure it's been since last Saturday. But that gives me an opportunity to ask a question.

"So, um, what do I do if this happens during a tournament," I ask, half-way through my form and experiencing a brain blip.

"Do what you can remember, or even end with the movements from a different form," says Justin. Good idea. But then I remember the last moves. Still, not so hot.

In our group of four competitors, Brian does the best form. He knows Yul Gok already! AND has obviously thought about it recently as he does it smoothly from beginning to end.

Then on to sparring. I begin sparring Jamie, a low-green. She is getting really good at sparring; still, I am able to beat her. We're both winded when we sit down.

Brian and Kevin have their turn in the ring. What a difference from me and Jamie--and from all the other pairings. They move our fast and furious with power and determination, kicking and punching hard enough that I hear the impact of mitt on mitt, foot on leg.

"Guys!" I yell. "Chill out! Light to no contact!" (Later Kevin asks me "Were we going at it too hard?" "Didn't you hear me yell?" I ask. "I was a bit worried about that surge of testosterone in the air.")

Justin warns them to lighten up on the contact, and they continue, with Brian winning. He's not even winded, as far as I can tell.

Justin looks at me. Yikes.

"Next match. Brian," Justin points at one spot in the ring. "And Jane." He points at another spot.

I am glad that I'm not having sparring angst these days. I'm ready to compete, and I figure it'll be good practice for both of us.

"I tired him out for you," shouts Kevin. Yeah. I certainly hope so. Brian smiles.

We bow to Justin, to each other, and get into our fighting stances.

The match could have gone either way. The judges are missing a lot of hits, by both of us. I am wishing for mercy as we go along: I get so completely winded from this sparring business, partially because it's such killer exercise and partially, I think, because my adrenaline is keeping me from breathing properly.

We each score a couple of times. In the end I make the final point to win.

"Winner is Jane," says Justin, holding up my arm. Brian is smiling, big. I think he's actually pleased that I won. I'm just totally wiped, and collapse. Takes me about 10 minutes to catch my breath.

Though I'd been hoping to work on my new form, tournament practice was good, real good. I do have some performance anxiety (one reason I never liked to solo, musically). Justin did a great job running it. We'll work on forms Monday.

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