I Competed in Point Sparring, Kata, and Board Breaking Yesterday
Instead of going to my MMA class yesterday, I decided to compete in a karate tournament that had point sparring, kata, and board breaking.
The tournament was held at the school of a friend of mine's who used to teach for me. Every couple of months her students, my students, and some from other area schools get together and compete in a friendly tournament. I usually just judge or coach, but this time I had motivation to compete.
There were a few people there who I felt I needed to prove some things to. People who had disrespected me recently and in the past. People who apparently had forgotten or at least never acknowledged I was a black belt before they even started training.
You see all of us used to train at the same school, under the same instructor. A few years ago, our instructor moved away and after a couple of years trying to be a long distance owner, he sold the school to me. For whatever reason this didn't sit well with a lot of people. Things got worse when I tried to change things, by trying to incorporate things like aliveness into our karate training and bringing in striking and grappling coaches to start a MMA program. My biggest sin of all was having the audacity to say that some of the things our instructor had developed could be improved. This led one former employee to accuse me of "butchering the art" and another to say I went against everything the school stood for.
When the school closed down in September of last year, we all went our separate ways. I started fresh at a new school where I could teach what I wanted, how I wanted to. Several others did the same and I thought we could all just agree to disagree and still get together from time to time to reminisce about the good ol' days and have our kids compete in joint tournaments.
We held our first joint tournament at my friends school, who is still teaching our former instructor's art pretty much the same way he was teaching 10 years ago, and a bunch my former employees and colleagues were there to judge and help out. Everyone seemed to have a great time, and it was great event for the kids.
Two months later it was my turn host a tournament at my school and not one of them bothered to show up. Most didn't even respond to my emails asking for their help. Shortly after that, I saw that some of them had posted thinly veiled insults directed towards me on our former instructor's Facebook page. The final straw came when I received an email from the guy organizing a Black Belt Reunion our former school, the school I owned for three years and had trained at since it opened in 1986, telling me that I was NOT invited. Several other people weren't on the guest list either, mostly people who had trained in the first 10 or last 3 years of the school, but I was the only one that was officially contacted and told not to show up.
One part of me wanted to turn the other cheek and the other part wanted to kick the living **** out of someone. I settled on beating them at their own game.
I decided I was going to go to the tournament, play by their rules, and show them I can point spar and do kata, I just choose not to because I think there are better ways to train and compete.
For my kata I busted out an old favorite from my early kenpo days, Short Form 3. Despite being my first kata competition in over 5 years, and not competing with that particular form in over 20, I nailed it and got first place.
Next was point sparring. I won all three of my matches and got first place, although it wasn't as satisfying as it could have been because the guy I was really hoping spar lost his first match so we never got paired up.
The third and final event was striking power. I have a bag with an internal force sensor that I bring to the tournaments. We compete by hitting the bag with a punch, front kick, and side kick and totaling the score. Despite being outweighed by at least 50 lbs by two other competitors, I was still in the running after my punch and front kick. I screwed up on my side kick however, and ended up getting third.
Still I felt I had proven my point during kata and sparring, and was then able to focus on judging the rest of the tournament and making sure each kid had the best time possible. My students did a great job of reinforcing my point by kicking ass all day long. Little did I know the best was yet to come.
After the tournament was over one of the judges brought in some plastic rebreakable boards to play around with. The boards were color coded based on their difficultly, with black being the hardest. The guy that owns the boards is friend of mine, and he had sent me an email before about how hard the black board was to break. I have to admit I was curious. Our schools have never done breaking, so I decided to give it a shot.
The owner of the board told me not to punch it, out of fear I might break my hand, so I hit it with an elbow and went right through it no problem. I then proceeded to "break" it several times with punches, while the guy who got first place during the official striking power competition could not, no matter what he hit it with.
The next tournament is in two months and it will be at my school and be held under my rules. That means events will include grappling and sparring will be continuous. I'm even planning on having kata there too, because I think it is good for the kids. I hope all the same people show up to my tournament, if only to help judge and do something nice for the kids. And if they want to beat me at my own game, they are always more than welcome to try.
Good story- I experienced a bunch of the same lame drama when I stopped teaching kung fu so I could move on to expanding my martial arts knowledge. Good on you for not letting a bunch of stagnant thinkers keep you from progressing and actually trying to improve your art instead of just reproducing the old stuff. I hope some of the people there go on to rethink their training and question what they've learned, but people like that are usually content to be in their small pond.
If the fuckers don't show to your school then make it VERY fucking public that they bitched out.
I am seriously tired of all the politics going on in the MA world, why is it so hard to give respect where respect is due. Also about the black board, the guy who couldnt break it was probaly convinced he couldn't break it. It sounds dumb but boards are more about confidence than actual training to me.
kick ass, man! way to show them up at their own tournament!
If the students can only reproduce the teachers work, then it's a copy shop, not an "art" school.
Way to grow, and outgrow politics.
I read the title and in my mind said, "bad-arse", sarcastically.
Then I read the story and in my mind said, "bad-arse".
I realise that "bad-arse" doesn't look nearly as bad-arse when typed as "badass".
Last edited by battlefields; 3/29/2010 5:55pm at .
The plastic rebreakable boards just have the advantage of being cheaper over the long run if you like to do alot of breaking. Even the black ones are only about as hard as 2 pine boards if they are the ones i'm thinking of. The reason people recommend against punching it is that if you don't break it, plastic doesn't flex as well as wood does....so it's easier to hurt a knuckle.
Congrats on the tournament performance....perhaps it will bring a few people around to your way of thinking.
That's pretty cool man congratulations. I too share your frustration on how many in the martial arts community make it out to be about politics and standards. I'm all for tradition but some people make a religion out of it.
A good tale. Well done sir!