Youngest (in white) with her best bud before their fights. Thanks t Krissy Sakamoto for the picture.

Youngest (in white) with her best bud before their fights. Thanks t Krissy Sakamoto for the picture.

Well that was a long weekend in Mississauga, and in some respects a challenging one as well. Eldest competed very hard and got better marks than usual on her forms, but did not place (she came sixth out of about a dozen). She also did not place in sparring, despite working as hard as she could. We also tried team synchro kata together (in the adult black belt division) and came out dead last but I was happy because we've only started working on that together last month. I considered that division something fun to try together; sure, you always do your best and hope to place but realistically this wasn't something I thought we could win on our first try after only a month of practice. Eldest took it hard though, and when you add it to the rest of her day she had a moment at the end where she asked me why I agreed to let her do competition.

Well. First, I said, you're exhausted, hungry and thirsty. Actually, first I hugged her and told her she was much better than she realized. That didn't seem to help much so I said let's get changed and go stuff some greasy hot foot into our gobs and we'll talk after.

We did. Mostly it came down to this: Nobody is born a champion. All the people you see winning tournaments (or anything else that's competitive) started out small and grew. Some had easier paths than others, maybe. Although I doubt it; I believe we all have to face down our worst fears, and that to us our worst fears are pretty dreadful, even if to other people they appear differently. Her path is crowded with wonderfully trained and experienced athletes, including kids who are physically much bigger than her, and so yes, it's going to be difficult to learn to win sparring matches against them. Not impossible, mind you. Just difficult. And, I told her, there's only one way to do it: It's to keep training and keep fighting and keep looking for ways to get better. And there's only one way to fail: it's to give up. If you give up you'll never win. And that's kind of rotten.

She had a good night sleep and is now feeling a lot better about it. Plus now we're thinking of adding a little training session to our week - just me and her sparring. Some of the girls she's up against are nearly as tall as I am, so if she learns to deal with me she'll do better against them. We'll also continue to work our forms and just basically keep at it because if there's one thing we are gold-medal good at, it's being stubborn.

So that's for Eldest. Middle Daughter also fought yesterday, her second tournament (but first one since moving up to the advanced division). She lost her first fight 5-1 then got to fight for third place. She lost that one 5-4 and came home with a fourth place. She was quite pleased with herself. I was beaming with pride. Meanwhile, Youngest, who is still a beginner, lost her fight and didn't get to go again, which she found difficult (especially after waiting very patiently for 2 and a half hours for her division to start - her fight was over in less than two minutes, that's tough for a 6-year-old to take), and she was also sad not to get any medal. I told her only the kids who place get medals (which is something I approve of; I *hate* participation medals), and that she gets to try again next time. She cried a bit for a few minutes and threw down her pads but that didn't help since she had to pick them right back up because mama doesn't do tantrums. Five minutes later she was her old self again. One big lesson learned.

Me, I got silver in forms. I won my first fight (I believe 6-0 or 7-0) and lost my second (12-10, if memory serves) and got silver in point sparring too. My second fight was against a woman I'd fought four times before this year. She's a rightie (fights with her right side in front) and I typically tend to have more trouble with righties for some weird reason. I used to find her very difficult to spar, but now things are more even. Black belts need to win by two points and our last three fights went over time. That's progress I can live with and build on.

It was a long day and tiring weekend, but the lessons and experience (plus bling) are well worth it.

Back to training tomorrow.