The Tournament

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 exploded.
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.

3rd Degree Black Belt

June 6, 2009

I passed my test! I passed I passed WOO I’m a 3rd black belt I did it!!  Yay!!!

The promotion ceremony will be on Wednesday 6/24.  When I got out of the studio I screamed and jumped up and down I was so happy.  Yay!!


December 14, 2008

Bike to Work, day 111

November 12, 2008

Today the struggle was to get going.  I managed to get out of  bed, albeit late, but then couldn’t seem to get my act together and get out the door.  Today was one of those mornings where I thought to myself i don’t want to be cold so i wore a thicker shirt under the space windbreaker.

That wasn’t enough.

I didn’t wear the giant sunglasses either, and the area around my eyes stung in the wind.  My eyes themselves seem slow when there is cold air blowing on them, drying them out.

0:26’27, 6.74mi (33.79 week)
avg 15.3mph, max 23.8mph
34ºF, Odo 2686.8mi
Cadence: Whatever.

I made it, and that weekly milage was my only grudging motivation.

Now then, maybe I have a reason to be so tired this morning:  Last night I passed my step exam at the karate studio.  Yes!  In the next few months I’ll be testing for 3rd degree black belt.  YAY!

Today was the kind of day where it may have been a better idea to stay in bed.

The ride home was late with late dressing and some late on the side with an appetizer of late followed by late for dessert.  Hence dinner at 10pm, and why I am writing this post at 11:38pm

0:23’30, 6.77mi (40.57 week)
avg 17.2mph, max 26.4mph
42ºF, Odo 2693.5mi
Cadence: not bad.

It felt much, much colder on the ride home.  It certainly was darker.

And now to bed with me.  Hopefully I’ll get up in time to bike to work tomorrow.  Wish me luck, I’ll need it!

Bike to Work, day 100!

October 10, 2008

And what a beautiful day for it.  54F, high 70s no complains!

0:24’18, 6.74mi
avg 16.6mph, max 26.3mph
54ºF, Odo 2507.8mi
Cadence 67-100rpm

More later, including karate promotion.

What a wonderful, warm and productive day.

0:21’15, 6.76mi (total 13.51)
avg 19.1mph, max 29.9mph
71ºF, Odo 2514.6mi
Cadence 78-110rpm

At the karate studio, there are several levels of teachers.  In order to progress from ‘Teacher’ to ‘Full Instructor’ you must write out, in detail, all of the material.  Every form and every technique.  Some people excel at physical motion and have to struggle with words (myself).  Some people struggle with physical motion and excel with words (my aunt).  Last night, after years of working on this certification, I passed! I’m now a First Level Instructor of Kenpo!  Yay!

Bike to Work, day 74: Ouch

August 19, 2008

I was just shy of shattering my record this morning:

26:14, 6.5mi
67ºF, Odo 1954mi
avg 14.9mph,  max 25.2mph

My Kenpo uniform is quite heavy.  I’ll be carrying it up to Manchester after work today.

Extra weight, probably not enough real food or water, and a strong headwind made today’s ride to Manchester brutal.  Oh wait, I forgot 100 miles Saturday, 45 Monday, and then today’s 31.  My legs were not strong today.

1:38:44, 24.7mi
78ºF, Odo 1979mi
avg 15.0mph, max 32.3mph

Half way home my back tire flattened out.  You could think this was the cap on a bad day, but no.  No, this was a great moment in my day, because I just kept walking.  I don’t even know why at first.  But then I saw a beautiful thing: a farm stand.  I bought some fresh fruit (a peach and some chopped pineapple) and then sat down to tackle my flat.  I set to fixing it slowly, without letting myself get frustrated.  So the wind was constantly in my face, so my legs had nothing in them, so the traffic is heavy, so what?  This I can control, and it will be relaxed and enjoyable.

It was the best pineapple I’ve ever tasted.  Ever.  I ate chunks between each step, keeping my spirits up and the work easy.  What a wonderful way to turn a bad experience into the best part of my day.

Though this is not my first flat, it is the first time I’ve used my CO2 pump.  The stem frosted over and the tire was inflated in seconds.  So cool!

The rest of the ride was painful, and painfuly slow.  I threw in the towel at 25 miles to use the bathroom and grab a bite to eat and a ride back to my car (about 5 more miles across town).  Thank God for family.

Tomorrow morning we’ll see how badly my leg hurts and judge weather or not I ride to work.  We sparred at karate, and took a full on kick to the shin.  If it’s just sore but not injured I’ll ride on it.