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.

Posted by Heather Daley on March 31, 2016, 1:14 pm | Read 4643 times
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Congratulations to everyone! I'm not at all surprised Faith did so well in forms. Her intensity and concentration have been obvious from the very beginning.

Posted by SursumCorda on March 31, 2016, 10:32 pm

Did you see the pictures?

Good job everyone!


Posted by dstb on April 1, 2016, 7:41 am

Thanks for posting that, Sarah.

I just realized the implications of this: "[Jonathan] usually does not get to spar with bigger people than him." People in his age group bigger than Jonathan? That's hard to imagine, even if girls do mature faster.

Posted by SursumCorda on April 1, 2016, 8:02 am

Thank you, Sarah. Our pictures and videos will be up sometime in the near future, I hope.

Yes, Mom, someone commented that the girls (in several categories) were like Amazons!

Posted by joyful on April 1, 2016, 8:15 am

I think for the most part, judging the sparring is really hard, since it is all no-contact, and even at the higher levels, where some contact is allowed, there still isn't any contact that would hurt someone (except by accident), so it isn't really anything like boxing or wrestling, where it seems more obvious to me how one earns points.

They have three judges, where one is the lead judge, and when the lead judge thinks he saw a point happen, he yells, and the two participants step back, and the three judges point (theoretically independently) at the side who scored the point (or cross their arms, if they didn't see a point), and as long as there are two in agreement, the point is scored.

The "independent" part came in with one of the main judges who it appeared that he liked to see fairly even points, and definitely not a shut-out -- though one happened by accident, because I think he forgot, due to some non-scored points because the other judges didn't see what he was seeing (the judges surround the two participants, so they see different things). And so there is a bit of eye communication and body language to help the scores come out more evenly.

There are also some other rules about where you can hit, which made at least some of the matches hard for me to figure out what was going on, and when I described one match to our sensei, he thought it sounded strange too, so I must not have been seeing it correctly (our sensei guessed that perhaps the kicks were too far to the other's back, which doesn't count).

The other thing that seems like it could be better is that the match stops every couple seconds to see who scored the point, and then they restart again, and so it seems to me that there is a huge advantage to long arms/legs and just a simple, quick hit, that wouldn't actually work that well in the long-term.

It did bring back memories of when I refereed a 9-10 year old girls' basketball game. It is pretty hard to do it fairly, and not stop the game constantly when the girls forget to dribble the ball, etc.

I suggested to one of the evaluators that it would be neat to see the evaluators do a demonstration sparring match, and I guess they do that some years, but they weren't planning on it this year. It sounds like they do demonstrations of forms more often, and that isn't as interesting to me.

I think the most surprising part of the whole tournament was watching my sweet, meek, quiet wife hitting another woman with her hands and feet, albeit no contact. It does make one wonder if I should stay more in line... :)

Posted by jondaley on April 14, 2016, 2:58 am

Oh, yes, never underestimate the power of Heather Unrestrained. :)

It makes me think of a line from an NCIS episode, where one agent has just discovered that her husband is having an affair. "[He] is aware that you carry a gun for a living?"

Posted by SursumCorda on April 14, 2016, 7:20 am

Well, there is a reason that God calls us to be Restrained. For our own good and those of others. It's even part of the karate school - Self-Control, Self-Discipline, and Respect.

Posted by joyful on April 17, 2016, 3:59 pm
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