This weekend was the Samurai Classic tournament in Mississauga, organized by our friends at East West Karate. Last year I had won in kata, and come second in sparring. This year I did kata in both 35 and over as well as 42 and over. I got gold in the first division and silver in the second, so woot.

I was allowed to go into the grand championship round against the winners (18 and over, men and women) of all the other kata divisions, all styles combined. Which is A LOT harder than competing in one small group. I did my best and tied for last place with another fellow, and that's fine. I mean, I was really trying not to finish last, but the competition in that round was just too spectacular. There is a major step between winning a regular division and doing well in grands. I may never succeed, but I keep trying every chance I get. That's the only way I'll get better. It may never be enough to do well in kata grand championship rounds, but hey, so what. The point of the game isn't the trophies or the money.

I competed in the same two age divisions in sparring. I won in 35 and over by virtue of being alone, and won in 42 and over after defeating one opponent. I went into grands for sparring, too, against the young women. In my first round I defeated a young lady I'd never met before 14-4, which felt pretty darn good. Then I had to fight a 24-year-old with a crazy awesome leg... I didn't actually want to fight her - not wild about getting kicked in the head, much. And this young woman hits much harder than my usual ladies. But they say you should always do grands, no matter how ridiculous, so off I went... I did get kicked, a lot. Including one kick to the face that made me take a wee time off during which I seriously asked myself how much I really wanted to keep doing this. That cheek still hurts, but you know what? I managed to score five points against this young, fast and scary fighter. (She scored eight, won the fight, and got the money. Hey, at least I made her work for it.)

I felt pretty good about it, in the end. I was fighting as well as I could and held my own. When you're slower than your opponent, you have to use timing and movement more. I've been working on that a great deal these past few months, always fighting teenagers and young adults. It never feels all that good in training because the boys keep hammering me pretty mercilessly, and I tend to get out of there feeling like a giant wrinkly slow lump of uselessness. I should remember to thank those boys for not taking it easy on me because that's helping me a lot.

Worlds are in two weeks (!), and I will keep training hard for the next 10ish days before tapering off to give my carcass time to recover. Onward.