I started doing karate at the end of February 2009 as a way to get back in shape after having Peter. That was honestly just my main goal. Within a couple of months, I realized that, much to my surprise, I really enjoyed it. When I say "much to my surprise", I mean it. My dad took my brother to karate way way way back when we were kids (I think I was 12 or 13), and while I was really into sports, karate just never interested me. My brother lost interest very quickly, and that was that. I never thought about it after that.
My first tournament was in April of 2009. I was still a little white belt, and was scared and nervous to death. I mean, I'd been to tournaments in the past (softball, and several hockey ones), but this was karate! Would I get my butt kicked? Everyone would be so much better than me! Sensei Jennifer had lots of experience with people like me in the past, so she talked me into it. My parents happened to be in town this weekend, so Leif and Linnea went with me. We got there just as all the chief instructors were performing. Just seeing them really adrenalized me, and got me excited to do my stuff.
My first ever sparring match.
My Pinan 1 Kata. Yes, I did Pinan 1 as a white belt!
While I did come in second in sparring, and first in kata, I quickly realized that wasn't the point. Well, ok, winning is always awesome, but I just had so much fun! Seeing the chiefs perform, meeting people from other dojos, overcoming my nerves to do the best I could and gaining extra confidence...THAT was the point.
Over the months I gained more belts, and when I was an orange belt, I decided it would be fun to become an instructor. Not full time, mind you, but part time would work to get me some extra training, and be able to teach kids and adults what I knew. I got my instructor belt when I was a purple belt, and just a month before the next tournament. This time I helped pass out the trophies.
Between tournaments this time I got my blue belt. If there was ever a belt test that almost killed me, it was this one. While I can't say too much about the test, I will say to Sensei Frankie that dude, you're awesome, but I really thought you had it in for me. But I survived.
In May of 2010, another tournament occurred, while I was a blue belt. I didn't know what my helper role this time would be, but a couple of weeks before the tournament, Sensei Frankie saw me and asked if I wanted to help with trophies again since I did such a good job last time. This time instead of just helping to hand them out, I was the first point of contact for the chiefs if they had questions about what ring they needed to go to, giving them water from the secret stash, and helped spectators with questions they had. That was fun. I still got to compete, but I had a lot of fun helping out.
Blue Belt Sparring. Third place this time. Photo by Jen Boettcher.
We just had another tournament on Saturday October 9, 2010. I was a blue/green stripe. This time I actually ran the trophy/info table and helped out with setting everything up in the days leading up to the tournament. I don't think I saw Peter anytime when he wasn't sleeping from Thursday-Saturday night.
You'd think by this time I wouldn't get nervous before competing, but I still did. The higher up I go in rank, the competition gets harder. It's honestly nerve wracking to get out there in front of everybody watching and perform. "What if I screw up?" "What if I get a horrible sparring judge that missed points?" There are always those "what ifs", and they will always be there. No matter how high up in rank I get, they will always be there. After I lost sparring in the first round as a purple belt, I was pretty upset because I felt the judge had favored the other person. After talking to some of the chiefs, I realized that a) judging sparring is EXTREMELY difficult. Not just a little difficult, but EXTREMELY difficult. b) at some point in time, it's happened to all of them. Hearing that made me feel better, and made me realize that I just needed to do it to have fun.
Anyway, going into this tournament, I really didn't want to spar. I just don't like it because I think I suck at it. Thankfully, Sensei Rachel made me do it (she said "you're an instructor, you have to spar"). Did I place in sparring? No. Should I have? Doesn't matter. This was the first sparring match where I had a lot of fun fighting. The person I lost against in the second round and I were very evenly matched. The points went back and forth and we clashed a ton, but wow, was it fun. I have a video of me sparring her, but I won't watch it. I don't want to play the "she never hit me and got a point" game, because it happens to everyone. From now on, it's just about going out and fighting people you don't get to spar against pretty much ever. Anything past just I'll just consider a bonus.
In any case, I love doing kata. I did win with this one. :)
After attending four tournaments, and helping out at three of them, I look forward to tournament time. I love seeing all the people, I love seeing all the little kids competing for the first time, I love meeting all the Masters and attending their seminar, I love seeing people I only see every 6 months. I love the instructor after-tournament dinner, I love running the trophy table and having a little schtick with some of the judges. I don't even mind...for one day...getting up at 5am, being at the arena by 6 for setup, and not getting home until 10:30pm.
I love karate because it makes me a better person.
Michelle, Rick, and Julie