Monday Late Afternoon: Time for practice. Kamaka, Marcos and Natalia are running their weapons for tomorrow’s tournament. (I think I need a separate blog post about how horrible American Airlines has been to Team Togisala throughout this trip. Kamaka and Buddha’s weapons didn’t arrive until Monday Afternoon!)
This tournament is going to be a challenge. Not only is it bigger than any tournament we have attended in the past, as West Coast competitors we are not known. And like it or not, politics always plays a role in competitions.
Our combined team, Team Dojo Elite, met in Sensei Brian Pena’s room so all competitors could connect and say Hello. This is also the first SuperGrands for many of the students from Team Dojo. When Sensei Brian asked if each of us were nervous or excited, we had an equal number of “nervous” as we did “excited”. Personally, I’m so excited for the kids who are competing. This is an extraordinary opportunity for a young person to experience. And it is heart-warming to see the pride and love of their parents and family members who are able to travel with them. The competitors have worked for months and months, they will have one shot to show the judges what they’ve learned.
Speaking of one shot. I’m not telling the precise truth on that. We watched two black belts from Sensei Brian’s dojo compete in musical team forms Monday evening. Despite the delay of over 90 minutes, Miss Pena and Miss Hunnicutt stayed focused and nailed their team kata set to music. When we saw them in May, I had commented that they are perfect for team forms because they move in such a similar manner and their body types are the same. I would have pegged them for a shoe-in for top two in this division. I know Sensei Brian and Sensei Butch were proud of their performance, despite how the scoring went. Great work, Sensei Allie and Sensei Jill.
And, we witnessed the “do over” rule last night. If a competitor drops her or his weapon, that competitor is allowed the opportunity to completely start their routine over. And one team entered this division twice under two different black belt/dojo names. So they were able to do their routine twice and were scored twice. In addition, one of the competitors dropped his weapon each time they competed and the do over rule meant they got to restart with no penalty to their score. In the end, that team did their routine four times and wound up placing 1st or 2nd and qualified to go to the finale.
Personally, I don’t think black belts or any level of competitor should be allowed to restart their routine in a tournament. Perhaps beginners should be allowed that grace, White to Orange belts. I can understand giving them a chance to start over and build their confidence in competing. But for more experienced competitors, that’s what we train for, the three minutes we have to do our kata or weapons forms in front of three judges. It felt wrong to allow so many competitors two chances. And it took three times as long to complete the divisions because of that “do over”rule. That rule left a bad taste in my mouth last night.
And yet, Tuesday is another day. We have five of our So Cal competitors up: Mr Cool, Kamaka, Buddah, Cy and Professor Angie. They’re going to kill it!