Well, that was fun. Better yet: that was an improvement over the last tournament, where Eldest and I got nothing. Today we earned us some hardware. And after only three months of training, that feels great. Eldest did a good kata, the fiercest I've seen her do, but it was still not quite enough to reach the top level of her 14-girl division. She got a small 5th-place medal for it. Then she fought along with 9 other girls (some twice her size; yeesh, some 10-year-olds sure are big...) and came fourth, which got her a trophy.

My kata division was a tough one; one of the competitors in particular is so good he's actually from a different planet, where people are born doing stances. He got 9.99, 9.99, 9.99, and all of us agreed it was thoroughly deserved. So yeah, he took gold. The rest of us clustered a few steps underneath him, with me being part of a three-way tie for fourth place. We did a different kata and I tied for second place. Time to face facts: My forms require a fair bit of work. Add that to the list.

There were only three women in our fighting division (my teammate extraordinaire, Martina, and another lovely - but fierce - lady from Waterloo). I fought that lady first and lost to her, then fought my teammate and won, then fought the first lady again for first place and lost to her. (Yes, that's three consecutive 2-minute fights; to say I was winded would be a fine understatement).

Among the things I've learned since the last tournament two weeks ago is to focus more on keeping the proper distance. Not saying I'm a master now, but at least I'm more attentive to it and I think it's helped me a bit. I still have a problem with my footwork; I don't move sideways fast enough, and I have got to force myself to use my reverse punch more. So that's on my menu for the next week.

I'm very proud of my daughter, who once again fought girls who are way bigger, heavier and taller than she is. There was one girl at some point that started to scare her, and I could see my daughter was tempted to just quit fighting and concede (she knew she wasn't going to win that fight), but she mastered her feelings and didn't quit. "That alone," I told her in the car on the way home, "makes you a winner." Because the people that don't quit are the ones who get better and eventually, if you keep getting better, you'll start winning your fights more.

So back to the dojo we go in the morning to start working on all this fine stuff. Our next tournament is the Canadian Open, in Ottawa, in March.