I’ve been doing taekwondo since I was eleven. Yeah, I know, “you don’t seem like the kind of girl that would do that”, I have one response. What ‘kind of girl’ should I be? Fit freak? Asian? Or someone with a lot of spare time?
Anyway, today I competed in my first tournament for 2017. My first tournament as a black belt, in the 16+ age division. Honestly, I was expecting harder competition. I placed 1st for Points Sparring and 2nd for Freestyle Sparring.
You guys have no idea what any of that means right? Sit down, pull out your coloured pens, neglect the red ones. You’re getting a crash course on Martial Arts tournaments.
There are heaps of different tournament organisations. The only one I have attended is WMAC (World Martial Arts Championships), more specifically, the Australian branch (AMAC). Although I have been invited every year to compete in the international championships in Japan. See the first few paragraphs of Road Trips to discover why that’s not really an option at the moment.
We have regional tournaments, which are usually held around June, but it was in (obviously) April this year. Our club, Subak Martial Arts, usually host it, and a lot of us volunteer to set up the mats the night before and to referee the events. We are organised into age, gender (once above the age of 12), experience level and weight (if you’re doing contact, which tiny do not anymore, but that’s a story for another time). These are our divisions, and we are placed in events accordingly.
You can do traditional forms (or patterns, as we peasants of taekwondo call them). These are basically just this little routine you learn where you’re supposed to be fighting invisible people or something IDK. They are really formal and serious. When it comes to tournaments, I forget everything I know here. I’ve done it all. I’ve pronounced the name of the pattern wrong. I’ve forgotten the pattern. I’ve started one and finished with the other. I’ve stopped dead in the middle of it. I’ve re-started. I’ve also never gotten as bad of a score than I did today. There are three judges, who sit on chairs, one at the front of the ring, and two behind you at the corners. You are scored in decimals out of ten. 9 is really really good. Today, I received three 5.00’s. Nice Gary.
You can also participate in “demonstration” which as basically just a way cooler version of patterns. My friend Bindi and I won first place with our performance last year. Not gonna lie, coolest thing I’ve ever come up with and the best thing is that we legit decided what we were doing when we got there that morning. Bindi and I are just on the same wavelength, and it pays off big time. Big girl took home three first place trophies today, by the way. You can also do this event with weapons, but our club doesn’t really do that, we’re too chill.
Then you have “fun events” which you can only enter if you are under 15 years old, I’m sad. There’s sumo where you basically just try and push the other person out of the ring, or, if you’re me, you have a lot of fun being carried out because you have zero upper body strength. Then there are swords. Yeah, don’t get too excites, they’re foam. But they still hurt pretty bad. I said today (talking about a cupcake), “Anything is a weapon if you hit them hard enough”, and yeah, I’m right. You have to just hit the other person on the body, and first to 3 wins. Which is perfect for people like me with mad lanky arms, cause I can hit you, but you can’t touch me (mwahaha). My little seven-year-old sister Lily won 2nd place for swords today out of about 21 other kids, which is massive. It was her first ever tournament. For my first tournament, I was 12, and I got 3rd place. Against two other people. One of them being my other little sister Emma.
AAAAAAND THEN THERES SPARRING! For anyone who hasn’t caught on, sparring is fighting… with rules. I’m not exactly sure what these rules are though, apart from levels of contact. They change the rules all the time. There are two types of sparring, points and freestyle. In points sparring, you keep going until someone actually hits the other without them blocking it. Kicks to the head are 3 points, combo moves are 2, and everything else is a single point. First to six points or whoever gets more after a certain amount of time wins.
In freestyle sparring, you keep going for 2 minutes, and whoever showcases more talent, technique and endurance wins. I’m pretty alright with that because the karate kids don’t see the fancy spinning kicks coming. Yay Taekwondo for being a complete excuse to call showing off a sport!
Then if you get a place in regional competitions, like this one, you qualify for state championships. For me, the New South Wales tournament is held in Sydney in September, and then if you get a place in that, you qualify for national championships. The location is dictated by the capital city of the winner of the ‘state of origin’ sparring round from the previous year. New South Wales is the state with the most competitors, so it’s nearly always Sydney. Australian championships go for two days in December.
So, my young grasshopper. Now you are informed. I am 1st in the region for 2017, (that is, in my event, my tiny age division and belt level, but we don’t mention that part).