Wednesday, July 08, 2009

World Tournament AAR

Hey look! I said I'd post, and this time I'm actually posting again in a reasonable time-frame. Go me!

Since it's about the furthest thing back on my list, I should probably start with the Isshinryu World Tournament rundown - before I forget what happened.

Most of our dojo went to the World Tournament this time around, which was really nice. The only people missing were A, who only just got his yellow belt and has never been to a tournament, and Sensei D, who was planning on going (he was actually the first of us to register), but cancelled at the last moment due to unspecified conflicts. As a group, we did well - everybody brought home at least one earned souvenir. I'm especially proud of our teenaged brown belt guy. The tournament folks screwed up his registration (there was a lot of that going around), and he ended up being the first to go in his division, which seemed to throw him off his game. His kata wasn't half as good as I've seen him do it, and his weapons work wasn't stellar either - but when kumite came around he really pulled himself together. I had been worried about T in kumite. He's only in his division by about a month, and he's not generally an aggressive fighter. So, pretty much every other competitor was bigger and more aggressive than he was (advanced 15-16 boys is usually one of the most aggressive divisions going). Instead of being intimidated, he kept his head, played it strategically, and came home with a third place.

I don't remember everyone's placements, but J (brown belt girl) brought home a second (or possibly third) place in kata, and one of our kids came in fourth in kata using Naihanchi!

R (the other adult woman) and I were both in the same ring in sequential divisions. I'm not sure what was going on with our judges, but something was funky. We started with four judges (for those not familiar, a standard panel is five), and then they found another black belt they wanted to be on the panel, and tried to boot one of the four existing judges to put him on. It was strange. Sensei comments that the panel was pretty much entirely novice judges, and it certainly felt that way. During R's kumite, the center judge was making some very odd calls (failing to count his own opinion towards the three necessary for a point, for instance), and R reports the same for my rounds of kumite (When I'm in the ring all I pay attention to is whether I'm fighting or stopping; everything else is distraction). Sensei commented (with apologies, since he was doing the same thing) that as the day wound down, more and more of the experienced judges were deciding that they'd done their bit and calling it a day. Intermediate and advanced senior women were two of the last groups to go, so apparently we were down to the more eager but very inexperienced for our panel.

As I noted in the last entry, besides the third in kumite, I was fourth in weapons, and probably fourth in kata (I didn't check the recorder's entries, but that's where my informal score reading would have put me.). So first - NOT LAST in kata!!!! Wooot! (For those of you who haven't been reading since forever, I've finished last in kata in any Isshinryu-only tournament I enter for something like the last four years.) I talked to a couple of my judges afterwards, and what they said pretty much reflected the scores - middle of the pack. One particularly helpful judge noted that I was past the point of doing things wrong that had to be fixed, instead there are right things that I'm failing to do which could make my kata better.

In weapons, Sensei did peek over the recorder's shoulder and says I was .025 out of the medals. He was very happy with my weapons performance (says that if it were up to him, I'd have placed second), so I'm pretty happy myself.

I attended two seminars the day before the competition. One was by Hanchi Duessel, which was informative, as always. We covered Seiuchin and Sanchin katas, with a particular emphasis on "thumbs down" - meaning the extra torque to the hand that can lock in some techniques. The second seminar had been scheduled to be taught by Master Shimabuku, but he had cancelled due to concerns with his wife's health and the Swine Flu epidemic (which seems a hell of a lot more real since one of Rob's co-workers died (in Brazil) a couple of weeks ago). The seminar was taught instead by Kyoshi Wallace. I've seen Kyoshi Wallace before, assisting at Hanchi Duessel's seminars, but never seen him teach. He gave an excellent seminar - more listening and less physical than Duessel's, but highly informative. He covered quite a bit, what I remember most was about the mechanics of proper breathing (something I think is far too often ignored, possibly because of my own background in singing).

Kyoshi Wallace turned out to be staying on my floor in the hotel (unnerving to discover at 7:30am with your arms full of donuts). I saw him several times as we both popped in and out, and then I went and told him how much I had enjoyed his seminar during the after party. He was very gracious, and talked to me for quite a little while.

The hotel was nice, but a bit disappointing as the promised pool was still under construction, and as the parking added quite a bit to the final bill ($27/day for the parking), without being noted anywhere I saw beforehand. The boys were exceptionally good, and Robbie came down to see the Grand Champion portion of the competition, which seems to have cemented his desire to come back to class. When we checked out, I left him and Aaron guarding the luggage while I went to the front desk, and came back to find him deep in conversation with Hanchi Duessel, who was waiting for his daughter to pick him up.

In general, a good time was had by all. The 2011 World Tournament will be in Indianapolis, which is only about 90 minutes from here, and I'll definitely be going. Here's hoping that Master Shimabuku can make it this time!


wh44 said...

Glad you had a good time!
See you soon! :-)

Michele said...

Congratulations! It sounds like a nice event.

I have not competed in years. I still have a few months to enter one competition before I turn forty-one.

Elizabeth McClung said...

I am not sure of time, and so this may be soon or long ago, but thank you for recounting this - I am glad you did not finish last and was middle pack, you achieved your goal and moved forward in Kata. Also that you went - tournaments are different than club - I did something different but the higher the tournament, the more experience I needed at the club, the lower tournaments, just to not make the stupid mistakes from long ago and keep calm and focused, and the people who flew in the high tournaments were those who knew what it was like to be in the Beta during them - beyond focus to relax and focus.

I look foward to hearing about more tournaments. It is good.