My husband sent me this quotation, from chess player Mikhail Tal:

“Later, I began to succeed in decisive games. Perhaps because I realized a very simple truth: not only was I worried, but also my opponent.”

Especially a propos today. I had to fight three times. Once against an opponent who's pretty darn good and about whom I was a touch worried. (I'd never fought her before.) We finished the two-minute fight and I was up 7-6. In black belt divisions we need a two-point difference so we kept going and she scored then I scored and then I kind of forget if she scored once then me twice or just me twice but whatever, I won.

Second fight against another woman I'd never fought went pretty good. I won something like 11-7. And what's more, I was finally able to do what my coach was telling me to do. Sounds a bit silly, but it means a great deal. To be able to hear him say, "hard fake then reverse punch" and then be able to do exactly that and score three times in quick succession with that exact technique - well, that's a new thing for me. I used to try my hardest to follow coaching advice but it was usually less than optimally successful.

Not sure what the difference was today. Maybe I was more determined than in previous tournaments to fight like I meant to win. Maybe the training is finally starting to pay off. Maybe today I was believing it more. Or maybe, like the chess player said, at some point I realized that my opponent (the second woman) was a lot more worried about the way this fight was going than I was. And I pounced.

Third fight was against the first woman again and this time I did not let her push us into overtime. I forget what the score was, but I won by at least three points. And I got her to start retreating and to hesitate juuuuust a bit, which - again - told me she was more troubled than I was about where this was going. And there again I pounced.

It was a wonderful feeling to win a division for the first time, and right now (even after a longish drive back to my peaceful island), I'm still on a cloud. Back to training I go tomorrow, very much with that quotation tattooed on the brain.

p.s. Eldest did not place either in sparring or kata, but she came close in the latter, with a strong fourth position (out of 7). I was not able to see her fight since I was busy busting out my kata (got bronze for that one) at the same time, but she's been getting steadily better so while she still has a ways to go, I'm pleased with her progress. Her sisters did an awesome job of cheering us on and otherwise running around all day making new friends. A thoroughly successful day.

p.p.s. today's tournament was at a place where they have astro-turf on the floor. Guess what happens when you walk around barefoot all day on that surface? Yes! You get sticky black feet. The things we do for our art, I tell you...