Clearly, they did well. Here are some of the winners with their trophies. Our school was given that plaque recognizing our achievements at the tournament over the years.
"I heard the judging was biased," said Ms. Pryor.
"But isn't that the way with all tournaments?" I asked.
"Let's put it this way," she said. "When you go to tournaments, why do you go?"
Hmm, cool question. "Well, I like training for tournaments, and getting my form to be the best it can be, and I like performing and showing everyone what I can do, and I like being there with you guys, and sparring with new opponents . . "
"But when you go, you go to win, don't you?" Ms. Pryor asked."
"Oh. Yeah. Yeah, I guess so." I felt kind of sheepish, like I'd answered the wrong way. "I did like winning firsts."
Later I realized that we were viewing TKD in two different ways: TKD as an art vs. TKD as a sport.
I tend to see TKD as an art. I've never trained in any sport, but I've trained in music and dance. So I see TKD as like those things: you train so you're ready for a kind of performance. Some people will like it, some won't.
On the other hand, some people see TKD as a sport, usually people who've trained in sports and like sports. You train so you can be better than your opponent in a competition. In sports, there are (usually) clear rules about how to win, so if you do it really well, you'll win.
If you think of TKD as an art, a tournament can be fun, satisfying, enjoyable . . . but only if you've trained your best and you don't get performance anxiety.
If you think of TKD as the latter, a sport, you'll probably enjoy tournaments where the judging seems more objective, but only if you've trained your best, "give 110%," and you WIN!
I bet most people think of TKD as a kind of combination of these two . . .