Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Karate Tournament

The boys competed in their first karate tournament, and it was an adventure!  They decided to compete in both kata (form) and kumite (fighting).  This involved the purchasing of fighting gear, and getting used to mouth guards (that make it hard to yell without spitting them out!), and jock straps (which interfere with high kicks by jabbing your poor thighs, or so I'm told!)... all that being said, when it came time for the actual competition they were both psyched and ready to go!

Luckily for me (and them) they competed in different age brackets.  I'm not sure that direct competition would be good for their relationship, so I was very pleased about this.  :)  Bentley took two golds and Jake took a gold (kumite) and silver (kata).  In our tournament each of the age ranges had a score range (5-7) for their kata, and there were 5 judges (one at each corner of the mat, and one sitting at the top center).  Each holds up their score at their end, and the high and low are thrown out.  Bentley scored a 19.1 for his kata, and Jake scored a 19.0.  The little girl that beat him scored a 19.1, and third place was a 18 - so he was definitely close to the gold!  His competitor has been studying karate since she was four, and I told him he should be proud of his win against stiff competition.  He told me that silver is good, but gold would have been even better!  Little boys - not at all competitive, right? 

I like kata because you do it by yourself, you are graded on your merits, it's easy to watch... a pleasant viewing experience for a parent.

Next up was the kumite.  I didn't love this as much, but the boys did.  A fight is 90 seconds (or less if you win sooner), and first person to 6 points wins.  There are a number of 1 and 2 point moves, and a few 3 point moves.  Theoretically you are not to directly hit, but to show that you come all the way into the strike zone with enough force to hit if you had wanted to, but that you have the power to pull back and not actually hit in competition.  The boys' Sensei tells them this is the hardest part of competition fighting - showing that you HAVE the force, but not using it because you don't get points for contact.

On the other hand, you don't get penalized for using force either!  There were students from another school at the tournament that train with different rules and their strategy (from my perspective) seemed to be striking with enough force to rattle/cause harm, thus hopefully throwing your opponent off their game and giving you an edge.  This wasn't really evident with the little kids, but with the older and higher belts it was definitely there!  

I was impressed with how composed Bentley and Jake both were, and how focused.  One of Jake's fights was a bit of a harder fight with a kid larger than him, who had an in your face style of fighting that Jake isn't at all used to.  It was a close match, ending 6 to 5 in Jake's favor.  I liked seeing him try his hardest and keep coming back despite "opposition" (I know, I know - this was just a competition for 6 year olds, I'm being a BIT dramatic!!).   Bentley's match was against another child from our school, so it was more "well mannered" - Bentley got in some good 3 point moves and won fairly quickly!

Happily for them it ended in smiles and with the clink of medals.  Although I did stress that doing your best is what's important, and not winning.  But we all like to win, don't we?!  Jake tells me he is ready to move on to bigger and better things - i.e. Nationals.  Bentley has been musing over the best type of trophy case for me to install in their room to house their medals.  He tells me it needs to be big because there will be a lot more medals added.  Love the confidence!

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