From the day that I opened my current center, I stood firmly behind the belief that we would never be a competition "school". I was committed to teaching my students traditional martial arts. As I looked at the current competitive circuits, I was disappointed with the lack of uniformity and tradition, furthering my desire to avoid sport martial arts altogether...
About 4 months ago a young man helped me to realize that I needed to reconsider my position. He asked about competition and I told him that beyond our "inner school" tournament, we do not support karate for sport. He was was very disappointed. He began to walk away, then turned and said, "Ma'am, I feel like I keep coming to baseball practice but I never have a game". I will never forget that phrase. Out of the mouth of an 8 year old came the most articulate expression about why HE thought it would be fun to step in front of judges.
I made the decision to put together a formal competitive team and search for real tournaments with a traditional and consistent atmosphere. After some research and networking, I was introduced to the WKF, USANKF, and the USAKF. Before I would ask my students to pay fees and compete, I wanted to experience it for myself. As the general competition season is almost over, I decided to compete at the last remaining tournament. Due to my eye surgeries, I cannot compete in Kumite any longer, so I chose to enter two kata divisions in the championship.
#1) Womens (Open) Korean Forms
#2) Womens Japanese Kata - 35 and over.
How did it go? Well, first of all...I was nervous. After all, I am 42 years old and have not competed in over 20 years! I wasn't even sure what to do. Though I haven't trained in Tae Kwon Do in over a decade, I chose to participate in Korean Forms because it was offered very early in the morning. I thought it would provide me with an opportunity to get the nerves worked out. I was right! I was nervous! So nervous, in fact, that I made a technical error on this very simple kata. The young lady I was competing against in the single elimination round wasn't more skilled, however, she didn't make any technical errors. I was not surprised at all when they gave the round to her...landing me in 3rd position.
My kids asked if I was disappointed? Absolutely not. I watched the video and saw my mistakes. I was determined to learn from them! My next attempt to win would take place later that afternoon. After watching my first form, I decided that I needed to breathe more, slow down and highlight each movement. Keeping that in mind, I stepped into the ring for the second round...more confident and comfortable. I performed with ease. The judges decision was unanimous...and I took home the Gold.
What did I leave that tournament with? Confidence? check. Pride? check. Gratitude? check. A desire to step into the ring again...and take another Gold? check. check.
I post this on my training blog because I want my 40+ friends to remember that competition is never out of our reach. With so many incredible opportunities to enter races, tournaments, competitions, team sports...we owe it to ourselves to do it. Many folks won't be couragous enough - either out of fear of losing, or fear of looking silly in front of those they love. Forget that! We inspire those we love WHEN we try...win or lose. My children, including my oldest son, will never forget watching me step in front of the judges. They will recall my courage to make the attempt more than they will ever recall my score.
Life is short folks..take the advice of the 8 year old who enlightened me:
"Don't just go to practice; jump into the game."