November 8, 2010
This weekend several students from my studio participated in a tournament. It was an open tournament, and a few other martial art styles were represented by other studios. Everyone performed admirably, and many of my students and friends took trophies home.
I wish to congratulate all of my students for participating, even those who didn’t win trophies. I am so proud of you!
The black belts were divided into age groups, and empty hands vs weapon forms.
The weapon forms were amazing to watch. There were swords, there were staves, and a spattering of other things. One woman had a form with a metal fan and a knife. I kept hearing about another girl who had a remarkable staff form, that she flowed beautifully. She was maybe 14.
My division finally started, late in the day, when many competitors and guests had left. Most of my studio stuck around for me, however, and I am grateful.
I approached the judges with a confident walk, and deep bows. I had a strong and clear voice, though I felt like it was shaking. When the judges granted me permission to start, I ran Short form 3, an empty handed form, with every bit ferocity I could muster. I brought the loudest form of the day, by far, but it wasn’t just about yelling: I had good form: power, range of motion, energy! When my form was complete, I put the breaks on full and ran my salutation calmly, as if nothing had happened.
The judges put me in first place for my division, and I proudly accepted my first trophy of the day: first place in forms
Soon there was sparring, and I watched in dismay while two teammates lost bouts I felt they should have won. Defeating my opponent, I took my second trophy: first place in sparring.
Immediately I was to face a very intimidating opponent for grand champion, sparring. This man was fast and skilled. His opponent never scored a point. When we fought, I landed some points, but he won. I’m not upset to lose to a more skilled opponent, he fought very well, and went home with the grand champion sparring trophy.
Next was the most exciting competition of the day: Grand champion forms.
My history with forms is simple: I was a hyperactive child with no peace of mind. Forms gave me peace, for that I am eternally grateful. For this reason, I give back by teaching. I can never repay fully this tremendous gift. Forms are my peace, and thus, they are so, so important to me.
The first competitor had a strong voice, and a strong form. I watched his arms shake with strain as he started, I watched his mechanics and knew he could win this tournament. Next up, the remarkable staff girl, above, who was graceful and skilled. She was beautiful to watch, and I knew her form could win, too. After the staff form was another remarkable form: metal fan and knife. This form was exotic and fascinating, another strong form! The next lady was from an older division, but she was by no means weak. She had a toughness that shone through. I would not mess with her! My last teammate was called up, and she ran her form which was very long and tiresome, but she never looked tired, she made it look easy. She had won Grand Champion in women’s sparring. I was the last to go up, after all these amazing forms. I was not scared, or worried, but I knew that there was no room for error. I was going to do my best and I’d be happy with whatever happened. I was proud to even compete with these excellent martial artists.
Again I bowed deeply, respectfully, and addressed the judges with a clear and strong voice. This time I wasn’t shaking. I stepped back and took two breaths. My salutation was smooth and calm, and ended with a snap as I hit my attention stance. Then…
I gave that form everything I was made of. All my strength, all my emotions, all my heart. I was fast, but I didn’t rush. Each move took its time, and each move had full travel (read: power). Again, at the end I finished with my salutation, this time sharper than before, snapped closed and bowed out. The audience was applauding loudly. The judges told us to wait while they made a decision.
After a few moments, the judges called us all back out, and we stood lined up while the head judge stepped forward with a large trophy. “The Grand Champion of Forms goes to…”
He called my name and held the trophy in my direction. I started feeling emotional as I walked up and took the trophy, shook his hand. I thanked the judges, then turned around and told my competitors how honored I was to compete with them, that they had excellent and remarkable forms. I turned around to a swarm of students rushing to me, and held my trophy up with one arm as they surrounded me and congratulated me. I was receiving hugs for ever, it was like something out of a movie ending. I thanked a hundred supporters, then called my mom.
One of the judges asked me if I wanted to know how narrow the margin was. Of course I did! I was expecting a thousandth of a point. I was expecting it to be close.
It was unanimous(!!). Every single judge picked me as the winner. There were seven judges!
The studio was closed when I called, so I left a voicemail and thanked my teachers.
I cannot even express how important this is to me. I am so proud.