Canadian Open. I tied for fourth (our of seven) in kata, having done a reasonably OK kata. I know it still needs works, and I am working on it, but I've been doing the same one at all three tournaments and every time I get a slightly better score (including one judge today who gave me 998, woohoo). Then it was off to sparring in a division with five strong women in it, including one I was very much hoping I wouldn't have to fight. She's big and tall with a big leg and lots of tournament experience. I'm 130 lbs and 5f6. I was actually scared of her. And sure enough, guess who's up first? Brigitte against Tall Giant Scary Woman.*

Gulp.

I had a brief moment of panic where I seriously considered running away but, well, I can't do that so instead I made the following decision: I would go in there with three simple goals. 1) Stay relaxed; 2) Move around when the kicks come in just enough to make her miss; and 3) if possible score at least one point.

Bow, bow, shake hands, fight. I work very hard at staying relaxed and move around well. Then I score. Yay me, goals accomplished. Now just to finish the fight... We keep going a bit and with about 45 seconds to go I realize I'm actually in a position to win that fight. That's when my little devil comes back and tells me that I don't really want to win that fight because the winner is going to have to take on this other lady who beat me pretty mercilessly at the last tournament.

Mmm. Tempting. But no. I can't do that. If I lose, I lose, but I won't throw it. We keep going and reach the end of the 2 minutes and I'm winning by one point. Black belt fights need to have a 2-point difference so we just keep going. She scores one. Now we're even. Hello little devil. You look cute.

I score two points in a row and win the fight. Superb Coach Martina very pleased. Me? I'm in shock. What did I just do?

Little break then it's time to fight my other tough opponent. I go in there with the same goals in mind, and lo, the same thing happens. Except I don't win that fight. She wins it clean and clear, but it's not as lopsided as our last fight in Mississauga. Cool!

Next comes the fight for third place, against an old friend I used to train with who's an excellent fighter. Same goals. I win it by two points, earning me a bronze medal.

Lesson learned? Oh hell yes.

I have spent I don't know how much time being told by I don't know how many people not to tense up so much and try to relax more when I fight. I've always known they had a point, but I never really gave it a try before today.

Well. Guess who's going to try it again tomorrow...

*Tall Giant Scary Woman, it turns out, is a very nice and friendly lady. But she's still scary.