Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Our guys face tough sparring . . .
"Guys always have to be reminded about light to no contact, don't they?" I muse aloud to the people near me at the tournament.
I'm standing at the side of the black belt men 18-34 sparring ring where Justin is sparring. They're really going at it--I can hear the thuds of foot on chest.
"Well, you know the rules are different for black belt men," replies someone from another dojang.
They are? And there's Justin, his first time in this category, with no helmet.
After one match, I trot over to give Justin his water.
"So what's up? Why are they hitting so hard? Are the rules different for black belts?" I ask after determining that he's basically OK.
"I don't know," says Justin. He points out that he's been getting hit pretty hard, even when he blocks. This has never happened at other tournaments.
"Yeah," I say. "And I saw you score lots of points on him--right at his belt--that they didn't call."
I'm puzzled. The rules on the registration form say nothing about hard contact or olympic sparring . . . hmm.
Actually I'd seen a rougher side of the sport earlier that day when I was watching John, who sparred in the 14-17 year old BB category. A couple of times they had to stop the match when boys got the wind knocked out of them.
Justin is called out for another match right away. He pours some of the water on his head and goes out. He's ready--still energetic and tough. Still, being the mom-type, I'm a bit nervous.
This opponent is even rougher. He makes a hooking kick to the head, somehow getting past Justin's block, and, despite falling a couple of times, manages to deliver a killer clout to Justin's midsection. There's a moment for Justin to catch his breath, and I stand there shocked, but they then go on. Eventually, the opponent kicks Justin in the face so hard that he draws blood.
The match is stopped while the judge examines the cut in Justin's mouth. I go over with a washcloth and the water once the match is over. This seems insane!
Justin's taking all this pretty stoically, despite being puzzled by the seeming change in rules. He mentions something about showing his wounds to his buddies this evening! James (who's 11) wants to get in the ring, too! "I wanna go fight that guy," he says. Guys!
Still, I'm wondering if I should have said something. I am the taekwondomom, after all, and, being a mom, I don't want the guys to get hurt unnecessarily. But I'm not a black belt, and this is my first "away" tournament--what could I say?
Did these judges forget the rules? Are there different rules for black belt men? Or was there some sort of eerie testosterone surge that caused brief insanity today?
Later, I tell Ms. Pryor about the match and ask her about the rules for male black belt sparring in traditional Tae Kwon Do.
"Yeah, that happens at some tournaments," she says. "As long as they don't really injure someone, they'll just keep going."
I'm not sure what I think of this. The guys seemed to be OK with it. I'm glad it's not that way with women, though Ms. Pryor had pointed out that even women black belts spar harder.
Any thoughts about this--especially from those of you who do point sparring? It seems like it takes more skill to control kicks than to go all out. But maybe this is some kind of safe fighting place where people (men) can really go at it. Do we (or men) need that? I don't think I do!
Posted by taekwondomom at 9:11 PM