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01 October 2007 @ 11:56 am
Yesterday I had my first taekwondo tournament in ages. I hadn't competed for over a year for two reasons - firstly because my asthma always happens to have been quite bad when tournaments have come round, and secondly because I have been feeling less and less confident about my ninja skillz. However, there really wasn't an excuse not to do yesterday's. I was in good health, and seeing as it was a friendly inter-club tournament it was the perfect way to ease myself back into competing and give me some confidence.

On Saturday, my instructor (the young one) spent an hour with me going over my patterns and taking me through a few sparring drills, before insisting on buying me my first ever Krispy Kreme doughnut (the day before a tournament!) which was really yummy but actually gave me a sugar-overload headache - pretty impressive for one doughnut. Definitely something to enjoy occasionally as part of a balanced diet :s

So anyway, the day of the tournament dawned, I got up at an unfeasibly stupid hour, packed my bag with huge quantities of water and Lucozade (1st rule of tournaments: however much water you take with you, you always need more) and set off for Dunstable. The kids were doing really well when I got there and we all cheered them on for a bit before heading off to the weigh-in. Normally there are three weight categories, but in this tournament there were only two, meaning that I wasn't the only lightweight and didn't end up having to fight people considerably bigger than me.

Patterns was a strange experience. Normally patterns is very much my thing. I've come first in all but one of the tournaments I've ever entered and have never lost to anyone who wasn't a higher grade than me. I did a great first round, but in the second I was up against a girl of the same belt as me, who was doing the same pattern. The fact that we were doing the same pattern freaked me out a bit for some reason and I didn't do so well. The judges' decision was split right down the middle, but seeing as the head umpire had voted for her she won that round. I ended up coming third overall. It was kind of a controversial decision though - loads of people not just from my club were bitching about how much better my kicks and jumps had been, and I'm thinking perhaps I actually went properly wrong at some point - a wrong stance or something - some major technical error that perhaps nobody who hadn't been sitting on the umpires' table would have noticed.

Sparring was better, at least in terms of what I had expected of myself and what I actually achieved. I had a particularly vicious bout with a girl from my club, who I think is probably a future world champion. She's only sixteen but she is virtually unbeatable. I did manage to score a few points though, and was happy with that. We both ended up injuring each other at some point though, and mine was quite amusing. She was punching me in the face and ended up accidentally poking me in the eye. The referee called time out.

"It's ok, she just poked me in the eye, I just need a minute..."
"You don't wear contact lenses do you?"
"Is it still in there?"
"Yeah I think so"
"No it's not, it's on your cheek"
"Oh no!"

He picked it off my cheek and handed it to me. I don't have uber-bad eyesight so was fine to continue with only one, but I was kind of at a loss as to what to do with the one that had fallen out. The referee told me to go and hand it to my instructor (the old one) who was standing at the side. So I deposited it in his hand saying, "It's a disposable one, just get rid of it, thanks!" He looked so disgusted!

Then a minute later I landed a great kick to the stomach, totally winding her. It was my turn to kneel on the floor facing in the opposite direction and get bollocked by our instructor whilst she recovered. Fortunately we were saved by the bell a few seconds after she recovered, and I think we were both quite relieved. I think the referee was highly amused by us more than anything else.

Point stop sparring was quite embarrassing for me. For those not in the know, point stop sparring does exactly what it says on the tin: you stop each time someone scores a point and start again once it's been verified by the corner umpires. There is such a massive advantage to be had in height for point stop (Kelly, our future world champion, weighs the same as me but is 4 inches taller with very long limbs) that it was an average of only about 5 seconds in each time that she scored a point against me. I scored one against her though. ONE!

Then it was onto tag team sparring. Tag team sparring works like this: You have a team of three containing at least one lightweight and at least one colour belt. There are two people in the ring at any one time, but your teammates are standing at the side and can tag you out at any time. Normally what happens is as soon as one team puts in their lightweight, the other team puts in their biggest girl who then wipes the floor with you. But as it happens, the heaviest girl there was only just over 60kg so we all had to rely on skill. I was definitely prouder of my performance in this than anything else. The other team's scariest sparrer was giving my teammate a hard time, so I did what I had to do and tagged her out. I was terrified both for my personal safety and for my pride - I didn't want to make a tit of myself and let my team down. But I actually did really well. I scored us a lot of points until the unfortunate moment when she attempted to raise her leg at high speed for an axe kick, but my groin got in the way. She should have been docked a point for kicking below the belt, but I honestly don't know if she was because I was in far too much pain to notice anything about my surroundings. My teammate went back in and finished her off. At the end of the match, it was the referee's second time to laugh at me that day as I bowed to my opponents with my legs crossed and tears in my eyes.

It was clearly an accident, but I was really annoyed that the girl in question didn't apologise to me. She had ample opportunity to do so after the match but she didn't. Grrrr.

After that, and a quick trip to the toilet to get changed and inspect the state of my ladyparts (blue and purple, but fortunately no bleeding) it was time for the men's sparring, when I got my first taste of umpiring. Umpiring works like this: you have a head referee in the middle standing with the sparrers, bossing them around and making decisions. You have someone at a table at the front keeping time and telling everyone who they're fighting and when. And you have four other umpires, one at each corner, keeping scores. This is what I was doing. You have a red clicker and a blue clicker, and one opponent wears either a red or a blue bib so that you can see who's who. Unfortunately the bib had gone missing, but fortunately one of the clubs involved had a uniform involving red stripes, so it was easy to see who was who in most matches. In others, the referee told us which was red and which was blue. In the last match however, he forgot to do this. We had one man in a red striped dobok wearing a blue belt, one man in a plain white dobok wearing a red belt, and none of us knew which was which. Luckily it was pretty much a draw anyway! There were two bloody noses in the mens sparring, one of them inflicted by an absolutely spectacular jumping reverse hooking kick by our star sparrer. He was docked a point for excessive contact, but by God it was worth it, especially since the other guy was ok in the end.

I'm really glad I went in the end. I might be slightly concussed and having to apply an ice pack to my ladyparts at regular intervals, but I now have three massive trophies (and one little one for the patterns) and a bit more confidence in my sparring ability. A more pressing issue though is that I have sore back muscles and am very much in need of a good massage. Where's Fit American Boy when you need him?
Hannah: kiss it bettercymruangel on October 1st, 2007 11:41 am (UTC)
OUCH! You are the second of my female friends to bruise lady parts in the last fortnight (the first being a hockey injury to my friend Phillipa, which was followed the next week by an injury that hospitalized her :s)
Are you in work? Cus you shouldn't be if you're in any way likely to be concussed. (Pot, kettle, yes I know). Arnica will help with the bruising, though I'd recommend tablets rather than the topical cream in this case - get FAB or a friend to pick you some up (lots of pharmacies do them now, particularly Lloyds, or somewhere like Holland & Barrett should be able to help), and ibuprofen will rid you hedache and some of the inflamation. [ /end preaching to the choir]

But hurrah for more confident sparring.
Jessica Kornberg: flowerjaquelinehyde on October 2nd, 2007 02:32 pm (UTC)
hooray! i'm glad you did well and had fun, even if your girly bits are out of commission. just call FAB and be like 'gimme a backrub bitch' and see what happens.