Training partner and karate mom extraordinaire Martina Couture took this picture of me waiting to do my kata So yes, first tournament today for Eldest Daughter and I as members of Team Douvris. We are both in advanced divisions (she's a brown belt, I'm black), which makes it a bit rough to start because you're up against people who have a heck of a lot more competitive experience than you.

It's a good thing I like a challenge, because I sure got one.

No, neither of us won anything. That's OK! I came in fourth (out of five; could have been worse), against much more experienced ladies. I did a decent kata, fought pretty hard, and had fun. More importantly, I learned a number of excellent lessons (manage my distances better, be faster with the reverse punch, don't block with the face, and move sideways more; those are the main ones). We have training at 10 in the morning and I'll start working on that right away.

Daughter's problem, on top of being up against adversaries who are much more experienced than her, is that she's a kid and the kid categories have a lot of, well, kids in them. Getting to the top three in a group of five is easier than getting to the top three in a group of 12 or 15 or 20. But Daughter did a good job with her kata, and she also has things to work on for the next tournament.

Where she really impressed me today is fighting. She was up first against a girl much bigger than her, and who kicked very hard. My poor child took one hard kick in the ribs and looked up at me with a great *what the hell was that* look on her face but she went right back and... got kicked, hard, in the same spot.

This time she fell down, a bit of wind knocked out of her and her eyes starting to water. I have taken those kinds of kicks and I know they hurt. Ref gave her a minute to recover and she went back in there and this time took a hook kick to the head that threw her down again. She got back up and kept fighting. She took the advice of her coach (it wasn't me; she changed her mind at the last minute, clever girl) and tried to counter the way he suggested and started getting a bit better. It wasn't enough, she lost that fight and was thus out of competition, but like her sensei said to her after, while skills can be taught, guts can't. And she has lots of it. I should note that Big Kicker went on to win that division but not without making every other girl she fought cry. After it was over my daughter asked me if it was OK to win a tournament by making your opponents cry and I referred her to Points 2 and 5 (and also 1), and she agreed. I will also point out, as a friend noted, that she did not allow herself to cry in the ring. She got sorely tempted, and her eyes did water, but she didn't cry.

You're darn right I'm proud.

I'm also very pleased to be part of a team that looks after its members. I was up in my division at the same time as my daughter and people from our team made sure they were there to cheer her on. When I was fighting I had a great cheering squad behind me. I didn't know it was possible to smile that much while having your ass kicked.

So yeah, a good day. I learned a lot, had fun, and next time I'll be better.