Big tournament in Quebec City this weekend. The competition was fierce, and the pressure was on. To say I was nervous would be a fine understatement.

But the show, it must go on. I managed a bronze medal in traditional forms, with the newer kata I started competing with three weeks ago. I did it pretty good (better than the previous two times), and I was happy with the results.

In sparring, I won my two fights and won my division (veteran women, lightweight), which meant I would get to fight the winner of the heavier veteran women division, a pretty fierce (and tall...) fighter I was actually a bit scared of. I had to remind myself that the rule is "always do grands no matter what" and kick myself in the butt, hard, to go do it.

Also? There was money on the line... $300 for the winner, and $100 for the runner-up. Only two of us were fighting, and I confess I was tempted to not fight aggressively so as not to get hit too hard and walk away with $100. But I didn't. I screamed at myself to stop being such a #^%@^% chicken and go in there and fight like I meant to win.

I did. And took a solid punch to the temple that made me wobble a touch. I went back in and scored with a punch. Then she scored one with a jab, followed by a kick by me good for two points. That's when she punched me pretty hard in the nose... I knew I was fine, but here I have to come clean and say that no matter how often it happens, I don't like getting hit in the nose that hard. I know I always go on and on about being tough and able to take it - and when you get right down to it, I can take it. But I don't like it. And the little devil on my shoulder saw his opening and whispered in my ear that I could just move around and play it safe and collect the runner-up prize. I had to shout at myself pretty hard again. But I didn't give up. We finished the two-minute fight 10-9 for her (if memory serves, which I do not guarantee). Rule is you have to win by two points so in overtime we went. We both landed a technique more or less at the same time, but the refs saw her punch first so she won the fight.

I got my $100. First time ever winning money for fighting. And you know what? I actually earned it. I earned it by fighting as hard as I could, as aggressively as I could and by not taking the easy way out.

Yes, yay me. But also: yay team. For I couldn't have done it without the awesome training I get from my favourite Spartan, Master John Douvris, and without the invaluable ringside coaching I got yesterday from Sensei Cody Diesbourg. I lost the fight, but I won something bigger: a big fat dose of confidence, and some precious tips that will help me get better for next time...

p.s. Catherine competed very well but did not place in kata. In sparring she lost her first fight in overtime against a giant. She was reasonably pleased with herself, despite the lack of hardware. She had to compete against bigger and older girls and she did well. I'm super proud of her, too, and took her to get chocolate-and-whipped-cream crepes for breakfast this morning, which made the whole weekend that much better.