Entering my first tournament, my mind was conflicted with thoughts. What will people think of my inability? I should stick with what I’m good at so I have a chance. If I can’t do it physically, will my spirit be enough? What will I do if I fall down? Despite the questions hovering in my mind, I knew there was one way to get my answers. I had to enter, try my best and listen to the answers on the day.
Preceding the tournament, I noticed slight improvements, but I still doubted my ability. Whenever asked about the kata, I diverted to self-defense because I was comfortable with it. A few days before the tournament, I was reminded that I never practiced on my left side. If this is the one thing I’m good at, I don’t expect to do half, I want to do it all. So, three days before the tournament, I started testing self-defense on the left.
On tournament day, I was excited to prove what I could do. I arrived early in my ring and started wondering about my day. If I receive first, but am the only competitor, how would I feel? I don’t think I’d have a complete experience. When Sempai Percival asked if I was doing kata, I refused, hoping others would arrive. Then I turned around and realized there was one other person. If I didn’t want to receive first for being a sole competitor, how would he feel about it? Knowing that it wasn’t right and wanting to contribute my best, I said to him, “I’m starting to think I should go ahead and try my kata.” When he agreed, I felt his appreciation. He helped inform the judges and reviewed what I’d be doing. I haven’t practiced in two months, am I sure? Remember, you’re not only here for yourself, you’re here for others, too. Try your best, do what you can and collect your lessons later.
Hearing my name called, I made my way to the center of the ring and decided to be my best for the day. As I went through my kata, I could feel the things I feared happening, but I ignored them and concentrated on being my best. In self-defense, my attacker wasn’t someone I had practiced with. When he performed out of my routine, I wanted to correct him, but remembered that routine doesn’t always show ability. If it’s different, then go with what you know. You can’t tell an attacker how to attack. You have to work with what you have.
After the medals were distributed, I left the ring with new experiences to reflect on and I had the rest of the tournament to observe contestants. Viewing other students from various levels, I saw examples of what I could work towards and I witnessed expression in others I wasn’t aware existed. Maybe, when I’m no longer distracted by my left side, I will concentrate on intensity. If I continue working hard now, I will be able to perform like them.
As I was watching contestants, I was approached and told, “Wow, Astrid, when I saw you get out of your chair and walk in the ring, I was amazed. Great job.” I smiled in gratitude, yet I was confused. You mean I worried all this time about not looking like others and the accomplishment noticed is my effort? Wow, I really can’t predict what others expect or notice. I guess contribution will assist where necessary and I need to trust it.
My greatest reward from my first tournament were all the realizations I gathered. Trying out of my comfort zone helped me apply my skills and effort. Being a competitor isn’t only about winning, it encourages others to heighten their skills and demonstrates support. Precision isn’t the only focus in a tournament, what is demonstrated can grow more purpose. It’s an opportunity for self-expression that’s rarely applied in class. And last, but not least, participating contributes to our community. It assists advanced belts to practice their skills and sets an example for lower belts to gain perspective of where they can be. Entering a tournament helped me to see how I could grow, find ways to grow with others and contribute growth to others. Tournaments offer an assortment of benefits and is accomplished beyond the collection of medals. We are all winners in our unique ways.
Blog by Astrid Hardjana-Large