Tag Archives: Competition

Close To The End Of The ZONE

Daily Prompt: The Zone

Regular followers of my blog know I’ve been doing karate now for almost 33 years, I started when I was a mere 6 years old, which for back then in 1980 was very young, but now is actually old, as many clubs these days accept 4 and 5 years olds, in fact I teach 4, 5 and 6 years olds on a Friday evening for the Sports Centre, hard work, but fun!

I started competing in local competitions back in 1982, I wasn’t even a brown belt then, a lowly purple belt, but I was young and still naturally very shy, but keen, plus we had a big junior class then and there would be many of us competing in the same category, so we would encourage and support each other.

In 1983 I competed at my first National Championships, just a brown belt and 9 years old, I actually wasn’t old enough to fight, you were supposed to be 10, but my instructor put me in anyway, I remember beating a black belt in the first round, but then losing in the second to another black belt, but that didn’t matter, I had beaten a black belt, that was good enough for me, the black eye and bruises were a bonus.

But this month that will all come to an end, at the end of June I will enter my 30th National Championships, then that will be it, my swansong, my final foray into finding the zone and walking out onto that mat, then giving it my all, after over 30 years my competition career will come to an end, win or lose, I will bow out.

Over the 30 years, I’ve had the chance to compete on the highest level, taking part in the World Championships in Sydney, Australia in 2006, as well as four European Championships, I never won a medal at any of those, but the experiences were priceless.

At regional level I’ve had success, with many local wins and four regional titles in the Mens senior kata, including nine consecutive finals.

At National level I had success firstly as a 13 year old back in 1987, winning a bronze medal in the free fighting, back then our category would have well over 100 other 12 to 15 years olds, so a bronze medal then was a big achievement.

Since then as an adult I’ve majored in kata, more performance than fighting, in the last 10 years I’ve reached five national finals, winning four silver medals and three years ago finally winning the Gold.

But each time I compete the nerves are still there, even after 30 years of competing, those nerves never go away, you just find a way to deal with them, to find your way into your ZONE.

Many people have different ways of preparing, in the eliminations I do banter with my other competitors, but I also like my own space to find my composure, but when my name is called and I walk to the edge of the mat, everything changes, then once I bow to walk onto the mat, everything else fades from view, apart from the main judge and his instructions, everything else is blanked out, it just me out there, even my opponent who is performing next to me is blanked out, only I can beat me now, I can do nothing about the other guy, if he’s better than me, then so be it, if he’s not, then so be it, it doesn’t matter either way, I have to perform at my best win or lose, if I don’t then I’ve let myself beat me, if I give it my all and outperform myself, but still lose, then that’s okay, I given my all, the best I can do and if my opponent is still better, then I have to go away and work harder.

When I make a final, I’m even more withdrawn, I pace around, find my space, visualise my performance, then when I’m called I blank everything out, at these times, the eyes of hundreds of people are on you and you alone, it’s your time to shine or your time to shrink, if you let the occasion and the crowd get to you, you will shrink.

I find a zone, my zone and again there is only me and the chief judge in that zone, everyone else isn’t there, only I can beat myself again, only I can make me the best I can be or the worst, so I blank the world out, focus my eyes and my mind and give everything I have.

Some people are relaxed in their preparation, some freeze and struggle, I find a happy medium of fighting my nerves, which are always there, they never die, they still affect me even now, but I pace, I walk, I stretch, I keep moving, until I have found that zone, then when I take to the mat, I move deeper into that zone, that works for me.

But soon, I will face that for the last time, the end of an era, whether I flop in the first round or go all the way and win, I will retire, I will concentrate on developing the next group of champions and England Team members that maybe developing in my club.

But hey, when this time rolls around next year, will I get the itch again, will I catch the bug again and take to the mat, just that one more time to see if I’ve still got it or will I just let the next generation fight it out amongst themselves, watching from a nice comfy seat in the crowd, just watching them find their zone, rather than trying to rediscover mine, who knows?

THIS COULD BE THE YEAR by RYAN STAR
This could be the year
This could be the moment
You’ve been waiting your whole life
To show the world the cards you’re holding – now
It’s one life
One dream
One spark

It’s one chance
One move
One shot

It’s on you
Be cool
Believe

This could be the year
This could be the moment
You’ve been waiting your whole life
To show the world the cards you’re holding – now
It’s one life
One dream
One spark

It’s one life
One wish
One fire

It’s one choice
One voice
Sing it higher

This could be the year
This could be the moment
You’ve been waiting your whole life
To show the world that you are ready
Hold your head up high
and touch the sky
Cause you know this is everything, everything
So take your shot it’s all you got to be

This could be the year
This could be the moment
This could be the year