Summer Shark Girl is gone. Now there is only School Shark Girl. What does this mean? Well, I get up a lot earlier. And I have less time. Way less time. So I apologize for the lapse in posting. But I will finally (finally!) finish my tournament posting. Over the summer I had too much time to think. New, timelier ideas would come to me and I would have to write about them, pushing the tournament further into my past. Now I’m lucky if I can even get a chance to sit down at the keyboard. So, I am happy to have something to write about.
Okay, long story short: Cousin and I went to the tournament. I fought some matches. The end.
Hah! Only kidding! Nowhere near the end. Did you think I would let you all off so easily? I am too tired not to ramble. I’ve been up since 5:30 AM preparing and teaching the leaders of tomorrow. (I have seen the future, folks. It’s not pretty. Actually, it’s very pretty. Prettier than me and also skinnier and blonde. It can text like an m-f-er.)
Okay. Where was I? Tournament. Well, it was quite interesting. I’m using that word because it is accurate and it pisses my husband off. “What does interesting mean? It doesn’t mean anything!” he will shout as he reads this. (Who am I kidding? He doesn’t read my blog.)
Focus, Shark Girl, focus. The tournament. I was the oldest by far in my grouping. A couple higher belts looked like they could be approaching my robust age. But all the ladies in my division were nubile moffets; lithe and energetic, radiating a healthy glow from their pores instead of the middle-aged acne that graced my chin. There was no Executive Division as there was for men, so my 41-year-old ass was placed in Master’s. There was only one other Master. (She was 31). So, Shark Girl competed in two open divisions and one Masters. To add to that, my weight class was 120# and below. I weighed in at 104. So, if you can picture Shark Girl fighting fresh, young faces at least ten years her junior and with as much as 16 more pounds on them, you will begin to know the terror that crept inside my heart that morning. Let me just say that after my first match, I was just happy that I didn’t pee all over the mat. ’Cause that was a possibility.
It’s not my style to give you a statistical breakdown of my wins and losses. If you must know, I’m happy to tell you privately via e-mail. I will say this before I continue on: I did not lose all my matches, nor did I win all my matches. There. However, I fought five times. There were two no-gi matches, and three gi. When I finished, I went over to cheer on my cousin (who by the way, rocked both his divisions. Way to go, Cousin of Shark Girl! You know who you are!).
In the end, I think the tournament was a good experience and I don’t regret it. But it was super stressful. It reminded me of my son’s chess tournaments. I sit on the sidelines worried the whole time. When he’s in a match I worry that he’ll lose quickly and not have a good game. When he’s waiting for a match I worry, too. Son waits patiently for his next match and plays without a care in the world. Some people are just like that. If I felt less stress at the tournament it might have been fun. Instead, I think I can skip this year’s Haunted Corn Maze.
After the weeks I’ve had to reflect, I want to share with you what I took away from the tournament. Here goes:
1) People sandbag. Either I royally suck or some of these folks are not so honest about their experience.
2) A cheering section helps. I did not have one. Biggest mistake ever, because the other girls did. It was demoralizing to be in a tooth-and-nailer surrounded by people cheering for the other person. I felt like the bad guy. Plus I could hear their suggestions and see my own doom coming. Not as fun as it sounds.
3) It’s all about the take-down. The person who lands on top has a much easier job of it all.
4) There is no number four. Just wanted to see if you are still paying attention.
And so, my dear web-friends, after all this I feel like I could be convinced to compete again, but I’m in no hurry. I appreciate what I learned as well as the street cred it gave me with my gym-mates. My sense is that at our own, familiar gyms, our game gets complacent. In a sense, a tournament is like going to a new school. One where everyone wants to kick your ass. It shakes things up and lets you see your weak spots. So for me, first day of school, facing 100 teenagers? No problem. I’ve definitely been faced with worse.