I woke early in the morning, knowing full-well that after being up until the middle of the night at a blues performance, dancing and sharing drinks with a band, I was going to have to do some work on myself before the tournament. So, at 6 in the morning I was kicking myself in the butt….took Laurie-dog for a refreshing walk, chugged several glasses of water….sat and casually pet the cat while sipping a coffee….ate a light breakfast….swallowed a couple of tylenol. I jiggled the desire for more sleep out of my body bit by bit and by 8 was in the van, headed for the Shotokan tournament.
We were a team of four and would be set against mixed gendered teams because there are few female participants in our sport.
"Kata is also a popular tournament event. Team Kata is an event as well, where a kata is performed with a group of three, trying to synchronize all their techniques and tempo. Team kata is judged on how well the team moves together, as well as the individual kata skills of the team members. In individual kata, a performer is judged on their form, body dynamics, speed, and power, as well as understanding of the tempo and progression of the kata. It is important to demonstrate the natural progression leading to a kiai point in a kata. A performer must also demonstrate the intented target of a sequence, by showing awareness of the invisible "opponent". Eye contact and direction are important, and convey intent and focus on the "target". When competing, the first and last movements of a kata also bear special attention. The first movement will set the tempo and mood for the entire kata. If the first technique is done with little energy, it becomes harder to raise that energy level on subsequent techniques. The final techniques in a kata are important because they are the last things to stand out in the judges’ minds. As with kumite, a skilled kata performance requires good understanding of the basics with diligent training in kihon."
I was proud of my team. For one, we were all ladies and since joining karate, I have been an advocate for more female participants. We did some intense practice in the morning, leading up to our event and focused on unison, lowering our stances and showing some degree of power and speed. We were put up against four other teams, so as I waited in line with my ladies, I was ‘speculating’ and going through the moves over and over again in my head.
In the first performance, we beat out our opposing team. We were blue….two blue flags flew up and one red! I was elated. On we went to the next; this time we were up against another winning team. As we waited, we strategized. Sensai had asked us to have another kata prepared…so we COULD do Heian Nidan…but I whispered to my team that if our opposing team stuck with their previously-performed kata, we would go in doing Heian Shodan, with the intent to increase power to our punches. Something must look better! As I watched our opposing team and noticed that at their conclusion, their embusen was off…I called it and said we would go in with Shodan and that we had to focus on our embusen and the power. The performance time flew by in my head, but at one point, I left out a Kia. As we backed out of the ring, I said quietly to my friend…we lost it guys…I missed my Kia….I’m so sorry.
Standing at the ring side, waiting for the decision, our hearts thumped. Up flew three blue flags! "Oh my gosh! We won gold!" We bowed out for the conclusion of the event and went and showered hugs and praise on our opponents and then huddled together in a celebratory cheer. We each took home a trophy…an amazing experience….my Sensai shook my hand and gave me huge smiles. It was amazing!