Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy -- meditate on these things.
On Saturday, March 26th, Jonathan, Faith, Joy and I participated in our first karate tournament. The whole family rose bright and early so we could drive the two hours and 15 minutes to Standish, Maine. This tournament is relatively small, with only about five dojos participating. Each division had two to eight participants, with an average of about four (though I didn't do the math.)
Faith's division, 5-7 year old purple belts, was first. There were six other kids competing with her, including her friend Evelyn from our own dojo. In the sparring category, she lost her first match, so that one ended pretty quickly. But when it came time for forms, that is when her practice and hard work shone. She was confident and crisp in her movements. She remembered everything and performed smoothly. She was first to go, and for whatever reason, they allow the first person to go again if he wishes, so she did it again after all the other kids had gone. She told me later that she almost told them that she had already had her turn, and then realized by how they said it that they knew she had gone already, so she just did it. It was so fun to watch her. And then the judges, not her partial mother, awarded her first place! Evelyn got second place.
We had a short break and then it was Joy's turn. Her division was girls ages 5-7, white and yellow belt. She was the only white belt, the other three girls were yellow and all over five also. In the sparring, she got a bye because only three of the girls registered for the sparring event. And she did pretty well, but the other girl being more advanced and bigger, she lost her match. This did get her to second place. There is not an official form until you get to orange belt, so Joy showed half-moon footwork with blocks. The only thing I was concerned about ahead of time was if she would start with the correct hand on the blocks. But she remembered and did a great job. She got second place out of the four, right behind the other girl from our dojo.
After that, we had a long break for our family, but we did watch other kids from our dojo. Jon took an interest in how the sparring was scored, and it seemed to him a bit arbitrary. Maybe he can elaborate in the comments if he wishes.
We went to a local pizza place for lunch with our Sensei and his family. It took a long time and we did not make it back in time to watch the weapons event. But we did watch some young black belts, which was quite interesting.
When we were getting our gear out of the car to get ready for Jonathan's and my divisions, I realized that I did not bring my gi! I had made sure everyone else was taken care of, but forgot my own. However, I did bring my sparring gear and even my belt (since I always keep the belts in a separate bag since they do not get washed.) I happened to be wearing my white jeans which look quite like gi pants. And our Sensei had an extra gi top in his car. So that worked out, but was a bit of excitement for a while.
Jonathan's division was 11-13 year old green and green/brown. His three opponents were all girls, and big ones, too. He was not as aggressive in his sparring as I usually see him, but he usually does not get to spar with bigger people than him. He did a good job and even got some tips from the judge as they went along. He got two rounds in and ended up with third place overall. He did not participate in the forms part, though now that he has seen how it works, he said he'll do it next time.
My division was the next one after Jonathan's. It was women 18 and up. I was against three other ladies, two blue/green and one very intense brown. As in Joy's, only three of us did the sparring. I was glad to not have to spar with the brown belt. The blue/green woman I sparred with was a mom just about my age, whose two children had competed with Faith. She was good, but she was nice. I even got two points against her before she won. So I got third place in sparring. I, like Joy, do not have a form yet, so I did half-moon footwork with strikes going forward and blocks going backwards. I was nervous ahead of time, but I had practiced enough, so I just stared ahead of me and did what I knew to do. The only problem was that the ring was a bit small, so I got close to the judges at the peak of my footwork. I got third place in that part as well.
It was such a great experience, we all had a fun time and learned some things, did a good job, and even came home with a bunch of trophies.