On Saturday, I had my first experience with a karate sparring tournament. I dawned on my sparkly purple gear (head to toe) and jumped right in figuring I had nothing to lose by participating. The entire dojo spent two weeks preparing for the event, which consisted of three categories: Sparring, Katas (forms), and Self-Defense techniques. I showed up an hour early to warm up and practice with the boys (no other girls were participating from my class). For some reason, I was not nervous or anxious, but excited for the opportunity to learn something and to demonstrate the skills I've spent hours practicing. My state of mind did not change even when I discovered I had to go first for every event because of my rank. Nor when I was told I had to go TWICE each time because the first person sets the precedent and has to go again at the end to see how he or she measures up to the rest of the competition. I saw this as an advantage. The tournament began with the sparring competition - not my strongest event but the one from which I could learn the most. I was paired against my favorite red head - I definitely knew I was not going to beat him because I never had in class and despite my best efforts, I lost 5-2. It was fun though. Sparring happens so fast that you almost have no time to think. I learned the first punch or kick has to be the winning one in order to beat men and boys bigger and stronger than me. Maybe next time. I walked away from sparring with a good feeling about my fighting and on what I needed to work.
Next event was forms. I only have one kata so I didn't really have the option to show off for this event. I knew I had to be perfect in order to beat out the higher ranks with their very impressive katas, not to mention I had practiced pinan one over 100 times so it had better be good. I went out there with energy and power performing the best I had since I learned the kata. I was proud of myself in this category. I felt I did very well considering the competition.
The last event was the most fun and the most rewarding event, Self-defense. The premise was to perform three to five moves against a gang of attackers. Basically, it was a street fight. I had lined up a group of four men from class to attack me in various ways. I ended up using five moves to finish them off. It was spectacular. I also was part of the gang for the other competitors. Of all the events, this was my favorite. Despite competing against each other, we really came together as a group in this event. Everyone performed astoundingly well and impressed even the strictest senseis.
The third event signaled the end of the tournament, which is when the judges compiled our scores and handed out medals and trophies. Many wonderful praises were give to me and my classmates, much to our delight. I applaud all of my fellow classmates for a job well done. I cannot even convey how cool it is to watch the higher ranks strut their stuff. One of the girls is a brown belt who could probably take most of the men I know. It is amazingly inspiring.
So you are wondering, how did I do? Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I won second place for katas, and drum roll, first place for self-defense. Needless to say, I was happy. The medals and trophies are my first adult tokens, which now adorn my bookshelf. I cannot express enough my enjoyment for karate and how much it has positively changed my life. Not only do I love the exercise and the sense of empowerment, but I value the lessons I learn from class and their application in my life outside of the dojo. I have learned tremendously from this experience and look forward to the continuous growth I will gain from martial arts for the rest of my life.