On Saturday Shakeel (12), Tharaa (9) and Nuha (6) participated in their first karate tournament within their club. They have only been taking lessons for the past 2 and a half months, which is why we found it strange that our usually-nervous/anxious kids were so eager to participate. So instead, I was the one who secretly endured the butterflies and sleepless night before the tournament, while faking an air of nonchalance.
Let me say that everything I know about this club I did not learn from newsletters or an info pack, but from one of the fellow mothers whom I privately refer to as the Dojo Supermum. She knows every child's name and background and acts as nurturer to all the kids (whereas I can barely cope with nurturing my own).
According to her, students grade every few months, but only advance to a new belt every two years. In between, the students are awarded stripes (first a few vertical stripes and then horizontal). Yep, I know- my knowledge of club rules is sketchy.
Children are not allowed to grade for their black belt until the
age of 16. There is one 14 yr old who obtained his brown belt a while back, but cannot get his black belt for another two years. He will therefore continue to receive additional stripes upon grading until he turnes 16. Which is unfortunate, since the poor child already has more stripes than a quagga.
On Saturday my kids were among the very few who had never graded- i.o.w. white belts with no stripes. I prayed that they would be paired with the other ungraded participants.
Supermum was asked to keep score and she, in turn, recruited me to keep time. It turns out that I am quite good at operating a stop watch with shaky hands.
Nuha was the first of my kids to compete. I was concerned that she would get terribly hurt, as she was younger, less experienced and much tinier than her opponent. I did not have very high hopes, since she does not put much effort
into training. I was not even sure if she had been paying attention during class at all. So imagine my surprise when she leapt into action and started throwing cute little punches at her opponent. She did not pause or hesitate. She won the fight with a score of 2-1.
Tharaa was another pleasant surprise. Up until her fight, the previous fights had pretty much resembled boxing matches. Tharaa however entered the ring and landed a few well-executed kicks in the gut of her startled yellow-belt opponent. I could not believe that this confident (and slightly vicious) fighter was the same little girl who spins and twirls with such grace and elegance when inventing her own version of ballet. She won the fight with a score of 5-2.
Shakeel was in the last fight in the children's category. I panicked when I saw that, since there were no other competitors left to fight, he had been paired to compete against the only remaining fighter- the brown belt. My heart broke when I saw how nervous he was and how bravely he was trying to cover it up. During the fight Shakeel bravely threw punches and executed kicks, but they were blocked by the more experienced fighter. The brown belt, threw a hard punch into Shakeel's stomach followed by an even harder kick- which is when my maternal instinct kicked in. "Hurt my baby one more time and I swear I'll choke you with your own brown belt" I threatened him telepathically. But it appears that telepathic communication is not my forte, since he continued to pound away at my poor son. Despite this, I was so proud of Shakeel as he did not hold back or stop trying- he continued to kick and punch until he was awarded a point. The brown belt won the fight with a score of 4-1.
I am so proud of all of them. I am even more proud of how well they supported each other during the tournament and how proud they were of each other afterward.
I hope to see much more of this camaraderie from now on.