At the beginning of April the boys went down to Las Vegas for a week to compete in two karate tournaments. They had a blast and it was definitely a new experience! On Friday they competed in the Jr. International Elite tournament, and on Saturday they competed in the USA Open. There were over 100 countries represented at this event! Our dojo sent 6 people.
On Friday at the Jr. International event the boys competed in kata and kumite (fighting) and on Saturday in the USA Open they competed in kata, kumite, weapons, and team kata. They were lucky enough to be in different age divisions for all of the individual events with the exception of weapons. They did remarkably well, and came home with 9 medals between them!
On Friday the boys both won their kata divisions, and Jake also placed bronze in kumite. On Saturday Bentley won his kata division, and Jake won bronzes in both kumite and kata. As a team their group won team kata, and Jake won gold in the weapons event!
It was a fun experience overall, although it did provide some "learning moments" for the kids on how sports and luck sometimes come together.... !
These type of tournaments are single elimination bracket style for kata and kumite, which means that all the competitors are put into pairs and either do kata at the same time or fight. At the end of each group of two the judges give either the blue or red flag and the kid wearing that belt (the red or the blue) advances to the next bracket level. The only caveat being if you lose in the first round and the kid that beat you eventually goes for gold or silver you get the chance to go for bronze again.
So if you happen to face the eventual winner in the first round (what happened to Jake in kata on day two!) you can't go for silver, but you can at least compete for bronze.
As for the fighting... fun for the boys but nerve wracking for me as a parent. It is interesting to me that Bentley says his favorite moment of the weekend is the fight he won. Not all the gold medals, but the fight! Ack! Our dojo doesn't really focus on the fighting so it's an area we don't have as much experience with.
Last but not least? The weapons division. It was tough to see Bentley and Jake compete against each other! They both performed beautifully in my completely non biased opinion! Weapons is the only area of competition that is scored by points instead of flags and brackets. There were 21 kids and Bentley was 2nd up. Like all point based sports the first kids set a bit of a baseline for the rest of the group (meaning you rarely see top marks at the beginning). Jake had a better position at 14th to compete and ended up with gold, and Bentley was just barely edged off the medal stand. I am very proud of Jake and also bummed for Bentley at the same time. I have no doubts they would have both been up there on the medal stand if Bentley had a different draw. But... sometimes that is how the cards fall!
Here are two short clips from the competition.
Bentley doing kata (he is the blue belt on the right):
Jake doing weapons: