My kata | Many thanks to Joe Cunningham for the picture

My kata | Many thanks to Joe Cunningham for the picture

Our national qualifiers are fast approaching (it's this weekend, in Ottawa - if you're in the area come say hi), and this week is crunch time. We need to work and practice and get the kinks out of everything because we need to look and fight our best.

This morning Eldest - who'll be competing in three divisions this weekend; two kata divisions and one sparring - showed me something in her kata and all I could say was "your fist isn't tight". She got annoyed that I wasn't paying attention to what she wanted me to see and refused to tighten her fist because that's not what she wanted to show me. I insisted the fist mattered because in competition judges look at everything, good and bad, looking for excuses to not give you a medal. Don't give them excuses, I said.

That's when she got mad...

This of course led to a longish talk on the importance of not worrying about our feelings so much and worry instead about finding ways to improve what we're doing. If you already think what you're doing is fine, I said, you'll never improve. And while you're at a pretty good level right now, it wouldn't do to stay there the rest of your life now would it.

She knew I had a point, and had to swallow pretty hard. Which is a lot better than talking back. Point taken.

Then I went to lunch class. I'm still sick from this wicked cold I got a few days ago and didn't particularly feel like going, but did I mention Nationals are this weekend? Yeah. Off I went. I huffed and puffed and sneezed and coughed and cold-sweated my way through the thing.

I worked my own kata for a while then got not just one but two senseis whose opinion on the subject I value greatly take it all apart. I explained to my daughter afterwards that it's a good thing I don't worry about my feelings too much because otherwise I'd have been crushed. Instead I'm relieved I went today because if I'd waited until Wednesday to have them critique what I was doing I would not have as much time to fix it.

It's always important when dealing with children (especially your own) that you not only talk but also model the kind of behaviour you demand of them. I couldn't ask my 10-year-old to ignore her feelings and focus on what needs improving if I didn't ignore mine in order to make my own kata better. Well, I suppose I could ask. But it probably wouldn't have the same effect.

She's a good kid and will (I hope) benefit from the lesson. I think I will, too, snot and all.