Sunday, March 11, 2007

A more detailed account of a victorious day.

OK, now I'm more rested and have a little more time to write, although now that we've lost an hour due to Daylight Savings time, I still feel like I lost an hour. My body is still on Standard Time. I've also discovered that my memory was much fresher of the events of the day late last night when I was zonked out than it is today when more rested, but I'll do my best.

So, since Drew wasn't going, I set off on my own to find the destination. I had gone there before for my first regional almost a year ago, but I had taken a different route. Based on my prior research into a better route, I made my way there in just under an hour, which was good. It was a pretty direct path for me to get there versus the way that all the online and offline mapping programs were telling me.

(Off topic for a moment-- if you can ever get your hands on a copy of MS MapPoint, it is worth it. While it can give you directions, and make various adjustments, it also allows you to look at the map yourself, and figure out things on your own, which has helped me immensely, and did this time to the tourney.)

So I arrived a little after 10 AM, thinking that the Opening Ceremonies, which were scheduled for 10 AM, would be going on. Since it was about 10:18 or so when I walked in, I thought I had missed it or something. Nope, turns out that it hadn't even happened yet! More importantly, before I found a place for me to park my stuff, I needed to find Nina to get my tournament forms, as I had forgotten to print them out the day before. I had called the school and asked Rachel to print them out and have Nina bring them, as I knew she'd be there. I found Nina quickly, and she had them on her person, thankfully! I was happy that she had them, and that crisis was averted.
A bunch of the other gals were there. Michelle hadn't seen the latest hair color change, so she commented on it as soon as she saw me and said she liked it. I guess I am having success as a redhead!

Once I parked my stuff, I found that we all had to start lining up soon for the Opening ceremonies. I hadn't missed it! I had also caught up, by that time, with Penelope, as Em was in the front being a black belt, and she and I are still lowly color belts (but catching up!). So she sat with me, and I had someone to hang out with for a while as the Masters, Senior Masters paraded down the middle, and then the host school had a demo team do some sort of XMA-ish presentation. To be honest, while they did a nice job, I do think the kids at our school could do as well, if not better, than their team. One guy on this did a bit with his JB, and I thought, damn, Nikki or Dean could easily do a better job than that guy! Oh well. Then Master R got up and said a few words, and GM said some stuff, and some other dignitaries, and such, and then the games were back on again! So, I just hung out a bit, and after exploring and checking out the scene for a bit (read: checking to see if I could determine who the competition was, and watch some of the kids from our school), Sandy arrived a little before lunchtime. I brought her to where I had parked my stuff, and as we were about to leave the area, Master R walked by. I made sure that I got my bowing in, but I also made sure, since I had just talked to him the day before, that I introduced myself, so that way he could put a face with the name/person. He was very complimentary of my phone manner, and was glad that I made it a point to say hello. Brownie points for me! (I was also sure to bow to Sr. Master Dilegge, Master Dunn and Master Capobianco too, since I do know who they are.) Went off to get some pizza and roam about some more. Sandy and I watched some of the kids doing stuff with their competitions and chatted, and mingled with some other people. At one point, we wanted to get something from our, I think it was that after a few hours, we thought that our rings would be called soon (they were scheduled to start at 2:30), and so we were taking our shoes and socks off, rummaging through our stuff. Nikki was nearby on a cell phone, and she starts giving me some funny looks, and I'm reacting to her like, "What the heck...?" Turns out that she was trying to indicate to me and Sandy (but to me because she could catch my attention) that Grandmaster was walking through. As Sandy put it in her journal so aptly, here she and I were, our chance to be good little ATA'ers, and we had our rear ends nice and high aimed at the GM. I also had only gotten one shoe and sock off, so there I was half shoeless, whipping around, and bowing with a "hello, sir!". He was very genteel, which I wasn't surprised about, and quickly thanked us but insisted that we didn't have to bow since we were evidentally preparing ourselves. Mighty nice of the guy. Turns out he, his wife --who was dressed in full formal Korean gown (which was gorgeous), and a bunch of masters were all getting their picture taken together on one of their cameras, but it wasn't a formal photo like in the main gym where the events were going on-- not a photo op sort of thing. Master R, of course, saw me and remembered me and grabbed me by the arm and asked in his thick NY accent, "Can you come over here and help us out with something? Can you take our picture?" What, I'm not going to say no! Even if I was late, I'm not going to say no to a Master asking me to help photograph him, the Grandmaster and the other Masters. Mrs. Lee (GM's wife) was funny, because instead of "cheese" she was trying to get everyone to say, "Kimchee!" which is cute, especially if you know what kimchee is (and I did). I made sure I did a lot of bowing in respect to all of them before I took the photos, which I think was appreciated. I mean, even if this was all just on the side, it was nice that I could help out, and I wanted to make a good impression. The funny thing about the whole thing was that for the tournament, I was wearing my contact lenses. Not to say that I can't see out of them, but I can't see out of them as well as my glasses, as my contacts a) don't correct my astigmatism as well, b) they dry out quickly, and c)my allergies make them a little...gunky. So, I don't see as well with them as I would my glasses as you can gather. And this was a conventional film camera, and no digital window to look at, so in this slightly darkened area of the gym, I had to try to make sure I got everyone in the photo, and took 2 photos to be safe. I think I did okay-- I don't think I cut anyone's head off or anything. ;-)

After one or two more obligatory bows, I got a nice "Thank you",and they went off, and Sandy and I started stretching on the very dirty floors (so much for keeping the uniform clean, right?) and practicing out stuff, mostly forms. I was feeling pretty confident about my weapons form, so I didn't worry about that too much, although I did practice that reverse the hold move (it's a fingering technique-flip the kama so the handle is outward, then roll it back to the regular blade-out position), since that's probably the most complicated move I have, and I didn't want to screw it up. Our posting time came and went, and at one point, we rested on some mats on that same little alcove where the higher ups got photographed by me. A young woman who was a purple belt came over and asked if she could sit nearby, and I said sure. Turns out that she was 28, so she wouldn't be competing against Sandy and I, but that was okay. She had a foreign accent, and for some reason I thought she was Scandinavian. I don't know why, because I hadn't even asked. But she was from the Virginia Beach area, so Sandy (who had walked away and returned) chatted with her about the B tournament they had there last week, and about VA Beach, and stuff like that. That's one of the things that I think I've really gotten to know about the ATA and about being at these tournaments, is that it's all about the fellowship and making friends and having something in common. They then called us up to determine the rings for adult color belts. Gary was helping with this, and I ended up being first in line as they lined us up to assess the group. So, I chatted with him, and told him where I was with the sword routine, and how I would love his help next weekend if he could, which he was happy to do. After asking how it's been going, he told us, to paraphrase him if I'm not quoting exactly, "Well, take a tournament, throw in Grandmaster and make it an 'A' tournament, and it spells chaos", or disaster, or something to that effect. It was a big chaotic, and things were taking SOOOOOO long to come about as it was. We got our group number, and had to just wait for the ring to be called.

While we waited, Sandy and I caught up with Ben and Bea, who are teenage brother and sister who go to her school, so we chatted with them. While we sat in the bleachers with them, Victoria called Sandy and I down, as she was center judge for a black belt group of boys (we were guessing they were the 8-10s or 10-12 year olds), and they needed a scorekeeping team to do it. Talk about your crash course into doing ATA scorekeeping for sparring! I knew how to do the time and the scoreboard, but that was given to Sandy. I was the one who had to do the written part. After both Ben (who was a corner judge) and Victoria went over it with me, thus started the sparring. The way the kids went up against each other, at least on paper, was kind of like, as again Sandy mentioned in her blog, a bracket system like the basketball playoffs (she was really good at descriptions in that entry!). I had to mark who got the points, if there were any warnings, etc. The first round we goofed up slightly, but we were in synch after that. Part of the problem was that it was so loud, and as loud as I know Victoria can get, I had a hard time hearing her. I don't think it was just me, as Sandy had a hard time too. But we got through that without being called to our rings. After that, Bea and Ben got called up for their rings, so Sandy went to watch them, and I went for a walk, ending up chatting with Jodi and Michelle's mom, and then Nanci, who used to do my job for a while and does it for Master C, as well. They finally called our ring, and I met up with Sandy there.

We had 8 people in the ring, so that's a decent number. I would've liked 5 or 6, but of course we can't choose those things. It seemed like a good group. There were 2 green belts, but everyone else was brown belt or higher-- only one red/black (black belt recommended). We were from all over. One red belt woman was from Florida, but the red/black belt was from ARIZONA! WHOA! Evidentally she was chasing points, because, as Sandy found out, her instructor wouldn't let her promote unless she did this. Of course, I think that's crazy, but more on that later. So...the competition began.

As far as my own performance, it went like this from my own perspective. I was 2nd or 3rd to go up. Granted, I was a red belt doing a green belt form, but technically that doesn't matter. This time, I felt that I had done a really good job. I had turned my foot in for that one stance where I had messed it up earlier. I hit all the kihaps nice and loud and at the right time. I didn't rush, and I didn't mess up in the middle. I thought I had done really well. But somehow, after hearing my points, and later watching others do other forms as well as the same form as myself, I had thought I deserved a better score. The green belt who got 3rd in forms did the same form, but I didn't think she did as good a job as I did. There was also the red belt from FL who got 1st for it, and she did CJ#2, same as Sandy, but I think Sandy did the better job. Sandy got 2nd in forms. I was a little disappointed, not so much that I didn't place, but that from what I could tell, I had done the worst. I really thought my form went over better than others, but as Sandy said, maybe the judges were looking for something else that we didn't realize. Who knows?

For weapons, there were only 4 competitors. I know Sandy was concerned because we were both doing ssahng nat (kamas), but we had completely different forms, so again, who's to know? The other two were the FL and the AZ gals. AZ did a SJB routine where she dropped it twice. I think if she hadn't, she would've placed. FL did a BME routine that was different from what we do at our school. She did some sort of roll in the middle of hers where she almost ended up sitting on me on the sidelines, but otherwise, it wasn't too bad. My turn came up-- I went last, I think. I took my time, and I almost hesitated on that handle out roll I was practicing earlier, but I didn't, and got it out correctly. Lots of kihaps and yells in the routine (added some extra yelling), and I raced through the last 3 moves (crisscrossing double cuts and a big stab at the end with a big kihap, hopefully ending near a judge's throat). Well, the scores weren't as high as at the interschool, but they were still high, and I had a good feeling about it, since I really didn't listen to the scores of the others. FL got 3rd, Sandy got second, and I got FIRST! But reaction to that in a moment.

Lastly was sparring, which everyone knows is my "favorite". NOT. I was the only one with the new faceshield on, and at one point Master C was sitting behind us and she saw me rummaging to get my kamas after form, and she saw the shield and smiled, I think in approval. But let me tell you, those damn things are HOT! Not like we weren't already hot and tired from what we had done already, and being that it was an almost springlike day outside with heat on in the gym, and wearing heavyweight uniforms, and now putting gear on, can imagine having your face covered up wasn't that great for me the asthmatic. When it was my turn, man, I just didn't have it in me, and I couldn't easily ask for time to catch my asthmatic breath. :-( Damn faceshield (mine covers my whole face. See it here at AWMA's website, and you'll see what I mean. Well, remember too, that my contacts are blurry, and there's a slight distortion looking through this shield as well. I think I was just so tired, and my opponent was that much better with her kicking that I lost. I don't even know what the score was, but I don't think I did well at all. I'm not sure I got any points-- maybe one or two, off her, and that's even with me having the higher kicks, and pulling out some reverse kicks. So, I was eliminated the first round, and frankly, I was fine with that. I don't enjoy sparring, but you have to do it, and I was glad that I didn't have to do any additional rounds as I was tired and hot. Sandy, on the other hand, is the powerhouse. She beat the gal I went up against, and made it to the final round. While I'm the kicker, Sandy's the puncher. She's VERY good at it. She also has had a lot more sparring training in the last few months than I have. The final gal she went up against was also a puncher, and she won. Sandy put up a good fight, for sure. She got 2nd place, and I was happy for her. She pointed out afterwards, "I think I could've beaten you today if we had gone up against each other," and I couldn't disagree with her. I just didn't have it in me by that point in the day.

So then we had the awards presentation in our ring. As mentioned, different people got 1st and 3rd place in all the different aspects of the competition, but Sandy got 2nd in all of them. She was the only person to receive 3 trophies from our ring. In my mind, because she was consistently 2nd and the only one to get three trophies, that made her truly the best all around competitor in our ring. She is definitely someone to watch out for, and I guess lucky for me, I only have to be in the same ring with her for about 5 more months! :-P

But my big victory and hard work finally paid off. I got first in weapons from my routine. It was a thrill for a few reasons. While it wasn't my first trophy in my life (that came last year at this tournament with my 3rd place win in weapons), it was my first 1st place trophy. I was reminded that it wasn't my first 1st place win, but this was a regional tournament versus an interschool tournament. And to boot, it was an "A" tournament, which means that based on the number of people who came to the event overall, and based on the number of people in my ring, I would earn more points towards ranking. THIS IS HUGE! I went back to check the numbers in the ATA Tournament manual (which is online), and I saw that I earned *8* points towards my ranking! Tally that up with my interschools as of late, and well....they have a weird way of tallying up points based on the level of the tournament, and you can't just earn points on interschools or just regionals, etc., so we have to see how it all filters out once the Tournament department tallies everything up (and it seems to take forever!). But my guess is that I will be bumped up, if my estimates are correct, from 5th in the state for my age and rank to 2nd! If I'm not 2nd, then I should at least be 3rd, behind Sandy. Despite getting 2nd place wins, she's racked up one more B regional tournament behind her where she did very well, and only a point separates us currently, but again, she's been consistent with her own earning of points, so she could still pass me. Still, that's a big jump, and that would be SO COOL. And of course, ambitious me, is thinking that if I can continue this streak with weapons through the B tournament next month and the last interschool, I have a chance to be very close to upsetting the #1 in the state, as she is not competing in our rank anymore (she's a black belt by now, I'm sure, as I think she was either a red or red/black when I saw her in July), so her stats are static. It's wishful thinking, and I am not going to get my heart set on that or get my hopes too high, but OH, it would be so great to do that to finish off my color belt career!

Sandy and I went to get our trophies, and man, I held onto mine like it was my child until I realized there was a major scrape and a major chip on it, and traded it in for a nice one. We met up with Pen and Em, and chatted, took some post competition photos, and watched the 40-49 women's color belts still going at it. It was a HUGE ring-- double our size! Made me glad I wasn't older! Just as we were thinking about how late it was, the tournament ended, and we got to bow out with GM. They had shut down the sound system, so I couldn't hear a word he said, and I accidentally shouted the "ATA!" when bowing to the flags, as I didn't realize that we were bowing to them, not the higher ups. Oh well. Can't say that I didn't have ATA spirit!

Sandy and I gave our goodbyes to SW, as we really hadn't seen her all day since she is RCT and busy all day. Asked if she was up to going out for dinner, and she said she was too tired and had to let her dogs out (understandably), so she couldn't make it. I think she was happy with our results, though. As I told her, I think I found my niche with weapons, and she said that was hers to, so I think I'm in good hands. ;-) Sandy and I talked about just going ourselves, but it was already late, and we were taking different routes home, so we just parted and we'll catch up again soon. So off I went home, caught up with the family, had a good heart to heart with my son in which he expressed his frustration for the first time about his apraxia (not realizing what his apraxia was, but it was a good conversation, and a long time coming). Oh, and I didn't even mention that I started the day with my getting on the scale for the first time in a month or two and I had lost about 9-11 pounds! I mean, this day had a lot of positives going for it!

I am still tickled pink about the weapons win. I mean, for me personally, this is huge! I'm finding that I'm not liking having to compete in forms and sparring so much, although it comes with the territory. The next tourney I'll have to do IW#1, which I did last year and placed 4th. It's not one of my favorite forms, but hey, whaddya gonna do? Evidentally my SN routine rocks, so there will be no changes for that. It's too bad that I can't do sword as a color belt for weapons (tournament rules, as I believe it's considered a 2nd degree weapon), 'cause I like what I've learned so far, and I think it would be extra razzle dazzle. ;-) I think another part of what I'm proud of with my win is that the routine I did was totally original, meaning it was totally made up by me. I did get elements of it from different people, but in the end, it was all me. I just took different things that I had learned, combined them and refined them. Heck, I just changed a whole part of it about a week or two ago, and the change made a difference, in my opinion. So far, I like SN, and BME (we'll see about double BME) and JB. I'm better at SN and BME so far. JB I'm okay. SJB I'm only okay on too, but I think JB comes easier to me than SJB. Heck, even sword is coming to me easier than SJB. But I think I'll get it eventually. I have to do SJB form for sure for my first R/B testing (I've been watching Evelyn do it, as she's never been big on weapons and is struggling through drills), but I'll get there when I have to do so.

So, overall it was a good day. A lot of the pressure is off for a while, but not too long since there's the B tourney in mid-April, and the interschool at the end of April. And there will be less stress, as Drew is taking a sabbatical for a while, probably until the fall. Even JC said that he believes Drew will go back to it, but he needs the break. I think he'll be better in the fall, as hopefully he'll mature a little more, he'll miss it, and he'll be better able to deal with the harder material by then. (Heck, Mom will be a black belt hopefully by then!)

And now...for the photos! These are all courtesy of Sandy, and the sparring shot is one she sent to me via Ben, who took the photo and passed it on to her. Thanks photographers!

Doing Forms - Lincroft "A" Tourney - 3/10/07
Me doing Forms. Between the red hair and the red eyes, I look like a woman possessed! LOL

Sparring - Lincroft "A" Tourney - 3/10/07
Me sparring, completing a reverse side kick. You can see me turning bright red under that contraption of a face shield!

1st Place Winner! - Lincroft "A" Tourney - 3/10/07
Me, the Champion! Woo hoo!


hardheaded is my middle name said...


We are just ordering our face shields, and I'm sure it's going to take quite some adjustment to get used to them. I put one on the other day, and it did seem hot and a bit claustrophobic. The other option though, with all the cut outs, seems to distort the vision even more....

Penelope said...

Hahaha! I love the last picture.

And as an FYI, I don't think sword is an approved tournament weapon for anything other than XMA. I know it isn't for 2nd degrees.

Windsornot said...

I knew it was at least an XMA weapons, but somewhere I had heard that as a color belt I couldn't do it, but somewhere higher up I could other than as XMA. Oh well. Can't do it anytime soon other than XMA anyway, so nothing to fret about. Unless I feel the need to come up with an XMA weapons routine in the next month! Gadzuks!

John Vesia said...

Nice pics - congratulations on your 1st place win!