Saturday, July 29, 2006

I survived the NJ Regional Tournament of 2006 (long)

WHEW! I am so exhausted! It's been a long day-- a long past two days, or for that matter a busy and tiring week! But it's finally over. I survived the NJ Regional Tournament of 2006.

We got to the tourney at around 8AM, as I had to drop off the programs that I designed and ended up paying for too (Ma'am is paying me back). I did get some compliments on it, which was cool. Drew's competition was supposed to start at around 8:30 AM, so it was just as well. It's just that we are late to bed, late to rise people in our house, so we were AT the tourney at the time we'd normally get up! *YAWN*.

Drew did fine in his round. For the Tiny Tigers, especially his rank and age, he can follow a judge and all the kids get a trophy for something. He got his trophy for "Spectacular Stances". I think he would've gotten the "Best ki-haps" award if the judge hadn't already given it out to some tiny little 3 year old instead. He held his own under the circumstances. I think what was hard for him was all the waiting. Being that our last name starts with "V", he went next to last, and it was really hard for him to wait. At least twice he was laying on the floor, and I had to go nudge him to sit up. He just wanted his trophy! Can't blame him, it was taking a while. Once thing that happened prior to being divided up into groups, Victoria brought in three little boys who were half orange-half white from the Trenton ATA where she and her dad also teach (it's one of Ma'am's other clubs/schools, and it's still new). I forget the little boys' names, but they were so cute. I introduced myself to them a la ATA instructor style, and Drew came down, and introduced himself, and even shook hands with them. I was really proud that he did that. It shows that he's made progress with some social graces. The problem was that he was also sitting next to Josh R., who is a little monkey like Drew, so when the two of them get together, they can be a troublesome twosome. These little boys from Trenton were being little angels. They put our Princeton kids to shame, and that's including my own kid (well, he always has his issues). Oh well. I can't wait to tell Ron and Victoria how well behaved those other little boys were, as I am hoping they will pass the word along to the little boys to boost their confidence and self-esteem. I did tell Drew at bedtime how proud I was of him, and how he was nice to those boys. He was a Power Ranger gentleman. ;-)

Shortly after his competition, JC took Drew home as he said he was bored, and I stuck around all day. Sharon was there too, and several times we got together and went over our form (brown belt/chuhng-jung #1), as she was not confident in it. I think by the time I went, I was pretty confident in it. I was glad she was around, as at the last regional tournament, I didn't have anyone to hang out with except Pen and Em, who are good company for a bit, but they are diehards in doing stuff, and I just wanted to hang out. In the off time that I wasn't hanging with Sharon (sometimes she was helping her son or some other thing), I just sat and played "pump it up" music with my MP3 player to get psyched. Eventually, it was the adult color belts' turn. I saw at least one gal, Lori S., who is a DE state champ. She's cool, I like her. She's a bit heavy set like me (actually a little heavier), but like me, she just goes out to do her best, and go with the flow. Debbie D., the NJ state champ in our division, was there, and man, she is annoying. She was strutting around like she ruled the roost, and other people noted it, especially the newbies, and kind of took a dislike of her. Most of the group we had was pretty low key, and we were all supportive of each other. There is an interesting dynamic that occurs in some schools and not others. I think if I said, "Can you think, 'Karate Kid'?", (provided you've seen the movie,) I think you'd understand. There are some schools who get SO caught up in the 'tude and the competitiveness, that they lose sight of what the competition is all about. There was another woman in my group, Stephanie, who is a very petite little thing who also goes to my school, and she understood, as well as some of the other ladies whom we were around. Debbie D., as well as some others, are fierce competitors. And don't get me wrong, they are very good. I would be watching some of these people (new faces to me, but probably not to the scene), and they were very good at what they did. But the way they did it almost struck most of us as if this is all they do. Like two of the ladies...I swear they must have been former cheerleaders or gymnasts or something, because their athleticism, for 30-somethings, was something not to believe. Of course, at least two of them could've been 20-somethings as instead of having the 17-29 group and a 30-39 group, it was one big whole group, and it was a LARGE group. Whereas at Lincroft we had 8 people in our group, this time we easily had twice as many. That naturally had its pluses and minuses. The main sticking point for me was that there was more competition, but it didn't seem like a fair fight. I mean, why would you put a woman who is almost forty up against someone who is almost half her age? That doesn't seem quite fair. Also, putting a camo belt against a black belt recommended? Or in my case, a purple belt against a brown belt. Granted, I've fought off a red belt and even a black belt in my time, but I had a difficult time today. More on that in a moment. So anyway, we seemed to have a good group overall, except for those people who seemed like obnoxious ringers, and they were a small group. Most of the ladies are quite sweet and supportive, and very low key. So, onto the personal details!

First was forms. After practicing it enough times, I pretty much had it down cold. Of course, that choaking mechanism of not remembering due to subconscious nerves kicked in. I didn't do as well as I would've liked, but I got through it with no major bobbles. Mr. A watched a bit and commented that I don't keep my thumbs tucked in, and we have to work on that! But otherwise, he thought I generally did fine. Weapons came along, and about half the group did it. I went through my bahng-mah-ee routine and almost forgot, but was able to pull through and wing it, especially at the end. I've rarely done the same thing twice with the ending, so I had tried to practice something I had done before so I had some consistency. I almost bobbled that, but kept going, and ended up with my signature "touche'" at the center judge at the end with a good kihap. So I felt, after hearing the scores, I might have shot, but not sure. Debbie D was doing this routine with those axe-like things where she even threw them up and caught them. Damn. Even more, was one of those seemingly ex-cheerleader types who was doing all these rolls and tumbles that made me think she was doing more of an XMA routine than a regular freestyle routine for weapons. Lastly was the dreaded sparring. I was happy to see that while the brute from the last regional was there, she was not geared up, so that gave me a better chance right there. Man, it was a tough match. I admit that I really didn't punch all that much, and was kicking like crazy. I am NOT good at second guessing or judging how other people are going to throw me kicks or punches. I outright suck at it. But, I was kicking a helluva lot, and though I should've gotten some more points. I also noticed that unlike some of the prior rounds before mine, they were flying through them, whereas mine seemed to go on forever. As it was, time was called instead of who got to 5 points first. I guess that's a good thing. I lost 2-4, but they were earned for sure. I did stumble at one point having lost my balance. I was doing these repeat round kicks with the idea of throwing her off, as most people don't expect a bunch of rapid fire repeated kicks. Instead, I think after she fended one of them off after a few, I lost my balance when they said "BREAK!". Heck, I don't even think I got the point on that one. :-S I banged up my bad knee a little, and my shoulder, which I think helped to break my fall a little, got slightly injured, but I persevered. As I returned to my little spot on the floor, I was just glad it was over, and knew I wasn't going to rank, but in running the clock down, at least I felt like I was holding my own a bit better. Since the sparring was going on longer than other people's, I was TIRED! I was told by the others sitting by me that they felt I was robbed, as I had gotten a lot more hits and the judges were blind, and they were surprised that I hadn't earned more points. That was encouraging. Later, Mr. A who had watched that as well, told me it wasn't a problem with the kicks themselves, but rather my timing of them, as I was kicking too late. Being a taller person with longer legs, I have a bigger reach. So instead of waiting until they are in striking range, I should learn to anticipate them coming in to try to reach me and strike out earlier. It makes total sense, especially the way he explained it, but I think that's a skill I will have to work on. As I sit and think about it several hours later, I do acknowledge that I do have to continue to not be afraid to learn to punch and yet protect myself better, and I have to better learn this timing thing. I think I also should have taken more risks with maybe doing some reverse sidekicks and the like, but those are skills I have to still learn. I do have to commend some of the lower ranked belts, as some of them said they had just been introduced to sparring or hadn't done it for long, and all they knew was defensive moves, not offensive moves, and they still held their own. That was really commendable. In the end, we knew up front who was going to be winning the sparring rounds, but we didn't know the ranking of the forms and weapons were. So, we lined up, and the judge, who seemed to be very low key and had a good sense of humor, talked to us, but I couldn't hear a lot of what he was saying because it was very loud with XMA stuff going on beyond the regular noisy levels. But he seemed very nice and complimentary to the group and all. So in forms, it was fair predictable-- Debbie D and the ex-cheerleaders. No surprise there. So when the weapons placements were announced, I was surprised to hear that I had made 3rd place! First and second place went to the two people I mentioned above-- Debbie and one of the ex-cheerleader types. I had predicted that-- it was easy to see. So, I was happy, as I really didn't think in the end that I'd be leaving with anything in the end.

I was a little disappointed in the end, because I felt I had improved a lot since the last go around, but I think because there was much more competition than the last time, I should feel very lucky that I made the 3rd place in weapons. I seem to rank at least 3rd in weapons all the time. And I don't always place on the others. So I may have found my niche. I would be happy to come in second to Debbie D. She is a diehard, and I swear she is a ringer, or she must be making a semi-career out of doing tournaments and such. It's bleeh to me. I haven't had much competition for placement in NJ yet, except for her. And I know she does a lot of travelling and going to a lot of tournaments, so if I can even get to being 2nd in the state, that would be good. She's closer to her black belt than I am, so maybe after she gets her black belt, I might have a slight chance at being number one. ;-) If not, hey, you can't say I haven't tried. It's not the end of the world if I'm not, but no one can ever say that I don't have enough spirit to try.

The next tournament that's relatively close is in DE towards the end of September. I might go-- we'll have to see how things are going at that time with the house and school and such. Lori S. asked me if we'd see each other at another tournament, and I said I was going to try to be at the one in her home state in September, and she said, "Hope to see you there!" :-) ATA friends are GOOOOOD.

1 comment:

John Vesia said...

I'm glad things went off OK at the big tournament. The waiting is always a drag, especially for the kids. And as you know by now, the higher ranks go later. (Why is that? I think it should be the other way around, but I digress.)

So you did forms, weapons, and fighting -- that is a long day. Most people can't appreciate what goes into tournament preparation. Someone once told me just showing up to compete indicates you're a winner already. Take care. Congratulations!