Friday, October 26, 2007

Just throw me to the lions, why don't 'ya?

When you got to my TKD school, it is not unusual to be thrown to the lions, so to speak, to fend for yourself in a new situation. You won't always be left out to dry for TOO long, but oh, it's really hard. And being that I am a newly minted 1st degree, SW saw it fit, as mentioned in my last post, to do just that tonight.

Tonight we had our first Interschool Tournament for the year. I think it was a fairly decent turnout, considering it was Friday night and all. Normally Drew and I have Cub Scouts on Fridays, but since we didn't have a meeting scheduled for this week, we were able to participate. And participate, we did! It ended up being a very busy night for both of us.

I can't say a lot about Drew, because I was unable to watch his ring. SW had said that she needed to start training some more judges, and now that Sandy and I are black belts, we were being drafted. Sandy didn't come until later (as she had to bring her daughter with her), and Drew's ring and another ring were at the same time. So, since I couldn't do Drew's ring (bias as his mom-- you'd know I'd want to give him a high score!), I was wrangled into being a corner judge - for the first time!-- in a color belt ring that was comprised of Drew's peers. Most of the kids from his classes are a little older than him (by 1-3 years), and as he is not 7 years old yet, and they all are, the requirements are different. Drew, being a Tiny Tiger, only has to learn half the form, and he can have assistance with it from the instructor. WELL, at least according to Drew, he was awesome, and even did a great SJB freestyle. ;-) He was very proud of his 2 medals, and his new red fabric star for his uniform. He told JC (who came in case Drew didn't want to stick around all night waiting for me) that he wanted to stay and help, so Drew asked SW, and she said sure. Now, again, remember, he's only 6. So, they put him to work to be a scorekeeper during the sparring matches. They have flip chart-type things to show the score in the sparring rounds, and his job was to work the flip chart. Sometimes it can go pretty fast and furious, but he was able to keep up, surprisingly enough. In many respects, he was doing a Leadership job, even though he's not in leadership. I'm still not ready to do that. I still don't think he has the maturity for it yet, and I don't have the money for it either. Anyhow, he was really great, and he really enjoyed it. At the end, as they were handing out the medals to the competiting kids, he would help hand out the medals and doing the handshakes. I think he felt very important! :-)

But anyway, I did miss him competing. I'm sure he was fine, but let me tell you, he couldn't be any worse than some of his peers. Some of them definitely knew what they were doing. There were kids that were up there, older than him, who didn't have a clue! And they were competing for a rank placement, vs. Tiny Tigers all get some sort of reward for participating. Oh my gosh. Well, it was difficult enough. I never gave higher than an 8. I kinda kept most of my scores towards the middle. I think the lowest score I gave was a 4, because the kid didn't even know his form. I don't know that he choked from nerves. Our center judge, BP, even got up and ended up doing the whole thing with him. So, I didn't want to give him a zero. You'd really have to screw up to get a zero. Thus, in forms, I was a "hand" judge. Most of the kids were doing the same form as me, so I knew it well. It was truly subjective. The kids who seemed to have a very good sense of what they were doing got the winning ranks, and it showed. During the weapons part, it's all freestyle, so I didn't have to judge just one aspect of it, like "hands". Again, there were kids that did some nice stuff, some that had a clue but it wasn't polished, and then there was the kid who just wagged his BME back and forth for 20 seconds (because that's all you get). He didn't get a big score from me either. Oy. Sparring is where it's interesting. It's very different when you are on the sidelines sizing up the competition, vs. having to actually make the call! It's a lot harder than it looks. Half the time, someone else would call, "BREAK!", but I saw the hit, and I'd be able to make the call anyway. I was advised that when in doubt, either do a "no see" or "no points" if I'm not sure. It was a good competition with that, but again, you could see who was stronger and who wasn't. It was quite the experience.

After judging in that ring, MY ring was up. It was a menagerie of sorts. There were technically 4 different divisions in 1 ring, and even then, they combined us to be 2 rings in one. Three people were white/orange/yellow color belts, but all different ages. The other group was Sandy and myself, same age, same division. The W/O/Ys did pretty well for a first time out in the ring. Only one did weapons, which was good. I was always glad that I had started competing and testing with weapons early on, because now that I HAVE to do weapons, it's second nature. I don't even think about it. But of course, the competition was heated, as usual, with Sandy and I. For either of us, the worst we could do was 2nd place, after all. Nonetheless, I have to say that I really thought that Sandy would have the upper hand in most cases, seeing that she's generally more comfortable with the forms and her weapon form. I lucked out, because since I had just gotten my black belt a mere 2 days ago, I was allowed to do a freestyle. WELL, if that's the case, gotta bring out the award winning routine, even if I haven't dusted that off in 2-3 months! It was a little rusty, but I got about 99% of it out before time was called, and improvised the end. But first, she and I did the same form. Hers did look a lot smoother, there is no question of that, and I figured it might be close. I believe it was a close score - only a difference of 1 or 2 points. Weapons the same, but I didn't do that math that quickly in my head. As I said, I managed well, and I was sure that Sandy would smear me with her weapons finesse. She didn't catch one swing, but it wasn't as major as what ES was doing the other night (not by a longshot!). I think that's what might have been detrimental. Otherwise, it was a flawless routine. Then the sparring. I took the opportunity to break in my new black gear, and as much as I protested to SW that I thought the shin guards were too big, they were actually much better than the old ones I had before, I must admit. It was another really close match. Sandy made me work for those points right up until the end. She's getting faster all the time, and she is a mean puncher and can strike at all the right times, whereas I really depend on my kicks to get me through. Well, the move that did the trick was one of my attempted kicks to the head, my signature "move". Hey, gotta use my height to my advantage when I can, right? Well, this particular kick sailed directly over her head, and the judges called it a 2 pointer to me, as if I had actually made contact with her head. Their reasoning was that even though I hadn't made contact, she didn't make any attempt to block it either, hence the usual 2 points that are usually awarded for head kicks. That's what put me over the top. Otherwise, like I said, she made me work for those points right until the end. In the end, Sandy got 1st for forms, and I got 1st in sparring, as well as in weapons. I wasn't sure about the weapons, so it was a surprise! Later, Sandy was the solo XMA adult. I know she wanted me to do it, but I don't have a routine. I'd be purely improvising, and frankly, since she's a kick-butt juggler that incorporates that into her routine, I knew I couldn't compete with that. So, she got her other 1st place win in XMA weapons. :-) Maybe I really do have to start putting some XMA time in. I don't have to do anything that long, but I want to do something good. I half-joked that she can do XMA weapons, and I'll do open hand, and then we'll both be champions. ;-) I do also have to say that the other impressive thing about Sandy, that was especially evident in XMA, but also in everything she does, is that she's a lot more atheltic than people would guess her to be. If you look at the photo of us in my last post, you can see that neither of us are exactly looking like Elle McPhearson or Heidi Klum. You wouldn't think that two "fluffy" women like ourselves would actually be fairly decent martial artists and do well in competition. Well, Sandy has this forward roll in her XMA routine that I don't think I would even get close to attempting for fear of ending up with my face planted in the mats. Sure enough, she went to do it, with no hands put down, and did that flying forward roll right in front of the judges, and she sailed through the air and rolled up as if nothing had happened. It was the smoothest thing I've seen in a long time! So even if she had other adult competition, she would've blown them away. She's really awesome at what she does.

After that, there was one more ring that she and I were drafted to help out with, namely the teen/young adult black belt guys. This time, I was the corner judge in charge of feet. It was a slightly playful ring, as the guys had been judging all night, and it was late and we were all tired. Sandy kept score, so she got extra practice with that. It ended well, and it was late, so we decided to just go home.

It was a long night, but a good one. While I'm proud of my competition accomplishments, it was certainly a trial by fire having to help judge in two rings tonight. It really is a lot harder than it looks! If it was just judging like in testing, that's a little easier, as you don't have to give points. You just have to rate if it was excellent, good, fair, poor or just plain awful. Even in sparring, you judge that way, not in how many points you get. I guess now that I have a little experience under my belt, it'll be that much easier when I go to certify as a corner judge. We'll see. It'll just take some more practice, I'm sure.

But I think the one thing I'm most proud of, not how I held up during my first judging rings, or how I did in competition, was how Drew was tonight. He even told me he didn't cry tonight when he only got a bronze medal (all the kids in his ring got bronze medals), and the fact that he wanted to help, and he helped well, and maintained his composure and acted very mature in this whole thing. JC felt that he needs to be rewarded for this at home (we have a "chip" system where he earns chips for good behavior, and felt that Drew should get an extra chip, to which I agreed), but also at TKD. He already earned a red star on his uniform for participating. But I can tell you, he did more than any other kid his rank there, and he was the youngest one doing it. He helped with scorekeeping in *3* - count 'em! - *3* rings. That's really great! So, I'm going to see if he can get at least some sort of extra star for his participation in helping tonight. I'm sure that's not a problem, I just want to know which star is appropriate. I'm really proud of him. And I think as a result, he's taking more interest in doing this. He's already asking to do a regional tournament so that he can get a trophy instead of a medal. ;-) I made no promises, as the next regional is an hour away, and we'd have to be there VERY early in the morning. It's a long day. His dad would have to take him home after a while. It's literally an all day thing, from 8 AM to about 6 PM. I'm not sure if I'd be able to get away with leaving early-- I might-- since I have a little one, and technically, I wouldn't be certified as a corner judge yet. Although, I could be drafted for score/time keeping. :-S We'll have to see. Anyway, I digress. Drew is whom I'm proud of most. It's days like this that it's great to be a mom. :-)

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