Karate And Me – Part 9 – Competing As An Adult

KARATE AND ME

PART 9 – COMPETING AS AN ADULT

Turning sixteen and moving into the adult categories for competing was not an easy transition. It would probably have been easier had I been training regularly, but alas that wasn’t to be anymore. For the past couple of years I had been plagued by knee problems, firstly the painful growing pains and once that had subsided I was left with an almost constant ache in my knees, this restricted any training, as the next day it would be severe and then fade as each day passes, only to start again next time I tried to train.

Secondly I had now become an instructor instead of a student, so training opportunities were restricted to one or twice a week, if I was lucky. When you add in the factor that I was at least a good four or five inches shorter than most of the other competitors, with the majority a good six foot tall and then there’s me, just five foot four and a half inches tall, believe me the half is very important to me!

Being short doesn’t stop you becoming a good fighter, it just means you have to work harder, be faster, have lightning reactions and great movement. I had speed, that’s not an issue, but reactions are the one thing that needs constant training, the ability to react when a six foot bloke is throwing a fist straight at your head is a must, this was the training I was severely lacking.

Due to the lack of training I missed my first national championships in 1990, it would be my first as an adult, which although meant that I would be in the junior male section, I didn’t feel fit enough or that I had had the required training, so I attended just as a coach and spectator.

Later in the year I started to compete again, but the success I had had in the last few years as a child, was now none existent. There was no momentum to carry into the adults sections, it was now a case of starting again from scratch, to reevaluate where I was, my tactics and my training.

Then came my first nationals as an adult in 1991, this time I entered and frankly in the fighting I was out of my depth for the first time, I could hold my own, but I was a long way from being competitive, not with the level of training I was getting, I was physically smaller, so I had to be physically quicker and smarter, this was where I was struggling.

But in the kata, that was a different story. In that first adult competition I lined up alongside all the other seniors, feeling a little bit out of my depth, but that I was going to give it all I had. I had never really had any success in the nationals in the boys kata, never got through more than a couple of rounds, so now I was in the adults, I didn’t expect much more.

So I was called up for my first match and I won. I was called up again and again, I kept winning. I made it through to the last two on my area, if I won that I would be through to the semi finals with the other area winners and the seeded finalists from the previous year, the seeds were basically made up of current English squad members, some of which were European and world medalists.

After the first kata, it was a tie, so we went again. I felt through the first half I was doing quite well, then my curse hit me, I suffered from something that would plague me for years, my foot slipped on the mats, losing my balance and composure for just a moment, but just long enough for the judges to see, I lost the bout and was out, I was so close, yet so far.

It was a disappointment, yet a revelation all at the same time. Having become less successful in fighting, I was breaking through in kata. All the development of my basic technique that I had put into my teaching, was showing in my kata ability. In the next few competitions later that year, the same pattern followed, moderate success in the fighting, followed by promising success in the kata. I wasn’t winning any trophies or medals at this stage, which after many successful years in the junior sections was a little different, but in the kata I was improving, soon I would stop competing regularly in fighting and concentrate all my training into the kata.

I was only getting in a certain amount of my own training, so developing my technique, which I could still do whilst teaching made more sense to me. I would still fight for the club in team events and enter the odd individual fighting completions, but after that I concentrated on kata competitions, success didn’t come straight away, but I was determined to get there.

FIREFIGHT by JIMMY EAT WORLD
This is where our diligence has lead
The waves roll in to claim our patient steps
Can we become more than just ourselves?
And leave the sand, our want, our will, our doubt

It’s firefight, I won’t run.
They’re spitting spite all through my blood
For you and me, there’s nowhere left to hide
Except you and me, there’s no one else alive

This is now the moment after next.
Are these still the eyes of a temptress?
Why open the door if you won’t go?
Don’t ask twice if you don’t wanna know.

It’s firefight, I won’t run.
They’re spitting spite all in my blood
For you and me, there’s nowhere left to hide
Except you and me, there’s no one else alive

Is there an answer?
If it’s an honest one, honestly worth its question
There’s no question
The city as my witness
I am who I wanna be, but you could be anything
Just be anything here with me.
Endless quotes and with the secondhand
If you let go then that’s where time will stand.

It’s firefight, I won’t run.
They’re spitting spite all through my blood
For you and me, there’s nowhere left to hide
Except you and me, there’s no one else alive

It’s firefight, I won’t run.
They’re spitting spite all through my blood
For you and me, there’s nowhere left to hide
Except you and me, there’s no one else alive.

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