In the tournament today, my age and belt level had only three women, so, the black belts set us up to spar one another, with one girl having a sort of bye. So, I was put against the one girl who had shown up specifically because her instructor wanted her to spar me. The winner of our match was to spar the other girl next.
I was that person.
I won that match, too.
It was very cool.
However, the videographer for my matches totally blew it with the videos. He shook the camera terribly at all the important moments, without clear reason. So, the videos are near-useless for evaluating how I did from an outside perspective. (And he was the same one who did an amazing job last time on the video’s angle and stability! We will be discussing this, he and I. 😛 )
Nonetheless, I felt comfortable regarding the matches today. Though the advice is to jump into it as soon as the head judge says to go, throwing a kick or strike before the opponent has a chance to move or think, I didn’t really like doing that last tournament. It actually was much more stressful for me, and I was near-panicked at the risk involved.
I had seen how the upper belts, black especially, had tended to take their time in attacking one another. It was easy and casual to watch, though still exciting and filled with bated breath when they sparred. The action moments were frequent and awesome, but no one was in a hurry to dive into them as soon as the head judge said to go.
I was amazed by this. I immediately wondered at why I hadn’t done it myself. Then I remembered that the fast-hitting people always beat me in tournaments as a kid. So, I had taken a page out of their books. Those books apparently come from many instructors in the organization. However, not everyone does as he says. And, besides, that approach just isn’t my style.
In sparring in class this session, I took on seeing how it felt to be chill in my own skin in the ring, fully comfortable in patience and intention. When the head judge said to go, I prepared myself fully to receive an attack, but usually never had one. In those first moments, I learned much about the opponent in front of me, and I used it to my advantage. I watched how the person moved, reacted to blocks, dropped guards for certain movements. I didn’t wait long, but long enough to have an idea to use. And then I used that idea. And I usually destroyed.
Today was just the same. I watched my opponents in the eyes. I saw where they looked on my body, while keeping an eye on the tension changes in their own bodies. There was always a bit of a rise and a clench just before a move was made… and the eyes told me exactly where she had set her target. It was a mostly easy block, followed by a bit if pummeling from me. That is, of course, when I hadn’t already attacked her. Because, as a friend said upon seeing the videos this evening, I was on the offense (though the videos were messy, they were still clear enough to notice). Though I waited those precious moments at the beginning, or throughout as I planned my next moves and sought my own opportunities for points, I was still the one managing the ring.
And that was, surprisingly, not a surprising feeling for me. Frankly, it felt natural, as though it were where and how I always belonged: being in charge, running the show.
It was really, really cool.
I still have much, much room for improvement, of course, but attitude is everything in things like this, and my mind seems to have found its place beautifully.
Thank you, God and Universe. I a extremely grateful for all that was today. Happy Christmas in July and Kakigoori Day and, now, Titanic Day!!