Updated: Nov 7, 2020
*Words of wisdom for inspirational thought are at the end of the story!
I have looked forward to this day for months! The State Invitational Martial Arts Tournament is a one day tournament that brings together all types of martial arts disciplines: Karate, Kung Fu, Tae Kwon Do, Muay Thai, Win Chung, and everything in between. Now, even though I am only a lowly orange belt in Karate, I love it; I attend class religiously and sometimes even twice on Saturday. I just cannot seem to get enough of it and the discipline agrees with me...
And now I can go to a real tournament and strut my stuff!
When I signed up for the tournament a few months back, I decided to compete in forms and kata. Forms would include a judging of blocks, kicks, and strikes. Mine are great. Kata would judge my proficiency in white, yellow, and orange belt katas; Mine are sharp.
I’m feeling good, and am going to bring back a couple trophies to the dojo! I am pumped, I am ready…. HE-YA!
Walking into the coliseum, I quickly find the check in area and soon receive my time slots for competition. While I wait I decide to take in everything around me – the variety of people, the colors and styles of their belts, and all the beautiful tapestries that hang around the room. I notice a very distinguished gentleman striding through the area, nodding and speaking to this Sensei and that Sensei, even giving the Sensei of my dojo a bow, a chop to the chest, and then a great big bear hug.
Turning towards the Black Belt standing beside me, I ask, “Do you know who that is?”
He nods. “Yes, that is Grand Master Kwan. He was the very first World Champion of the International Martial Arts Council. He actually held the title for ten straight years.”
“Wow,” I breathe in awe.
“He finally retired from competition and now he just teaches.”
“So,” I reply, eyeing Grand Master Kwan, “he’s a living legend.”
“That’s an understatement,” he quips.
I stand as straight as a pin when Grand Master Kwan comes near. I bow deeply as he passes by, attempting to impress him by showing off my “high level of respect.” I receive a nod in return. The Grand Master is soon being led to the raised platform in the middle of the coliseum. After climbing the steps and walking to the chair in the middle of the platform the Grand Master surveys the entire coliseum.
A huge gong is struck, startling my senses and calling everyone to attention. As the vibrations fill the coliseum, everyone simultaneously bows low to Grand Master Kwan. He covers his clenched fist with his hand and gives a slight bow in return. The gong sounds again and Grand Master Kwan hollers, “E-YA! Let the games begin!”
Orderly confusion erupts throughout the coliseum, and I immediately understand the meaning of the saying “just like a Chinese Fire Drill.” Everyone scurries to their designated area to begin the competition. And what a great day of competition it is! It’s amazing to see all of the various forms and techniques of all the different martial arts disciplines, though the sparring and breaking competitions are my favorites.
Personally, I have a great feeling about my performance. I was focused throughout both competitions. My blocks, strikes, and kicks were clean, crisp, and powerful…at least in my mind they were. And my katas were flawless…I think. I’m pretty sure I saw Grand Master Kwan glancing my way during my competitions, and I’m anxious for the awards ceremony to see if the judges thought I did as well as I think I did.
When it is finally time for the novice division awards to be announced, my heart pumps vigorously and I find I am like a German Shepherd: sitting up straight, chest out, eyes focused, and ears up. But...it doesn’t take long for me to transform into the droopy form of a Bassett Hound...I didn’t win anything.
As the event comes to a close, the Grand Master steps down from his perch and stands by the exit to speak to each participant as they leave the arena. As the line forms, I’m middle of the way back and truly just ready to get home, my pride still stinging from my lack of awards and recognition. As I approach the Grand Master, I force myself to hide my disappointment.
I bow, and then Grand Master Kwan puts his hand over his fist, pushing it out towards me, and says, “Ah, Karate Man.”
I blink rapidly. Did I hear him right? Out of all of these participants from so many different types of Martial Arts disciplines, the Grand Master knows my form is Karate! I grin with renewed vigor and swagger, asking, “How did you know, sir? Was it my strikes, kicks, blocks, or katas?”
The Grand Master stares at me for a few long seconds before gesturing downward and states, “Karate pants.” Speechless, I can do nothing but put tail between legs and turn to leave the coliseum before I melt through the floor. Quickly leaning towards me, Grand Master Kwan whispers in my ear …
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ALWAYS CONSIDER THE OBVIOUS
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*Chew On This: Fifty-Two Inspirational Points to Ponder is available for purchase here!