Saturday, November 03, 2012

It Had Been Too Long ... Sparring Tournament

Seattle Taekwondo
Sparring Tournament
November 3, 2012

I am approaching nearly a decade of Taekwondo and Thai Kickboxing training. In that time I have graduated to Black Belt in both programs.  I have previously competed in three tournaments, winning one of them back in 2005.  A number of other awards have been earned over the years.  I even now teach.

But, it had been over six years since I last entered a sparring tournament.  It was time to change that.

It was important to me that I be in the correct frame of mind for this event.  I thought long and hard about it and realized that if I focused on efficiency then I could be competitive. It is one thing to lose, but another thing entirely to not perform well.  I can live with the scoring if I know that it was really my best. Plus, it is very easy to get injured if focus is off and I have to work on Monday morning.

Over the past few years I have done a good job of being very immediate in the things I do, keeping a good focus and not multi-tasking when it would be detrimental to do so.  This morning I focused on nothing but how my muscles felt and thinking about what kinds of kick combos and strategy I would bring to my bouts.  There were a number of things on my agenda, but all of that could wait mentally until the afternoon.

The men in my division all wished each other well.  We gave each other encouragement and all hoped for the best.

My first bout was a 6-4 win over a younger and quicker, but less experienced opponent.  He really brought energy to the bout.  Had it been longer than two rounds he would likely have worn me down as he was narrowing the score at the end.

A break between bouts for other divisions was merciful.  I watched the other two in my division spar a very controlled and intelligent bout.  It was clear that I would need to spar smart to win the second bout to win the division on the day.

For the final it became very clear as the first round went on that I would need to take a different second round approach.  It was 3-3 after one round, but my opponent had landed a two point back kick and looked set to keep bringing it.  I felt he could land more and rack up points so I needed a way to minimize that kick without merely keeping distance.  I in no way wanted a sudden death round to follow with that back kick looming out there. The energy in the room was awesome.  Everyone was cheering and encouraging. During the brief break between rounds I remembered a discussion with an instructor a year or so ago where he discussed bringing a flurry of kicks very early to try and rack up a number of points and to therefore control the round and the bout through a lead.  I took a series of very deep breaths, gave my corner man Brian a double fist bump, turned, and went right at my opponent with a number of kicks in rapid succession, including a couple of double kicks with my left and at least one back kick.  Having managed to land several kicks for points early in that round I then continued the previous round approach of keeping distance to minimize the double point back kicks and ended the bout at 11-6.