Okay, March madness is on and we are not talking about basketball. Let’s talk karate! Today was the Kentucky State AAU Championship hosted by our dojo.
When you watch others perform a sport, you are called a spectator. How many students even participated in today’s tournament? For an NCAA school with a basketball team it is 12 out of several thousands. For a dojo it may be 5 to 15 out of a 100 or more. So, my conclusion is we have more participants in a karate tournament from the dojo than we do for a basketball tournament for the colleges. We are just not on television yet. I am sure we do have some Facebook videos that were taken today and posted.
Our head Sensei told us this week that you know how good of a fighter or martial arts practitioner you are when you compete in the arena. It is one thing to spar with your friends and another to spar with a stranger.
I was reminded of what Teddy Roosevelt (he is one of the presidents on Mt. RushmoreJ) said: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
As we were watching the performers and judging them we noted that it is better to perform a simple kata very well. We notice the times when the winner performed a simple kata well and waited for the more intricate kata to complete. We are taking back this lesson. I know that I need to practice the fundamentals on stances, hand positions and referencing when performing katas. The judges look for these items first in an evaluation of the performer.
Both Sensei Glen and Sensei Mae served as referees in the tournament. Sensei Mae ran the brown belt ring. She also assisted with running the tournament for the first time. Well done. The tournament ran smoothly. We had participants from Kentucky, South Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Indiana, and Illinois. The Napiers did a great job of running the Kentucky AAU state tournament for the twelfth year in a row.
Sensei Glen also did well, by all accounts according to Sensei Mae. Sensei Glen remarked that regardless of being “right or wrong,” go all out on the decision that you make. No second guessing. No hesitations. Not all judges have good angles. Sensei Glen always works on making good decisions that leave no doubt on what he saw.
One special guest was Kancho Bambouyani from Chicago. He travels the world teaching karate and is a regular participant with his dojo at our tournament. It was great to speak with him today and be reminded of how big the sport of karate is in the world as well as how close knit the karate family can be.
Keep practicing and working on the fundamentals. Thank you to all who participated and assisted with running the tournament. Well done! See you at the dojo.
Excerpt from the Theodore Roosevelt speech “Citizenship In A Republic” delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, on April 23, 1910.