The opening ceremonies finally got underway, beginning with a procession of cadets carrying flags of participating countries, followed by an RCMP officer in dress uniform. He was followed by members of the Six Nations Native tribes, who also performed dances for us later. Then came the tournament officials, followed by all competitors who had shown up. I say that because I know not everyone bothered to come. Most of the higher belts were there, but hardly any of the younger kids came. The national anthem was sung by Sensei’s wife, and after a whole lot of speeches by various politicians, senseis, and Walter Gretzky, the tournament was declared open. Everyone marched out, and the floor was cleared for the native dancers who performed for us. Very impressive. Thus far, definitely the best part!
We stayed for a while and watched some of the black belt competitions. My kids get bored watching other people do karate – I don’t get that – and they were antsy to get home, so we left around 8.
Saturday morning we were all up shortly after 6 to get ready and make sure we had everything for the day. We had been told it would start at 8:30, but remember my comments about karate time….things got underway just after 9 with the national anthem again sung by Sensei’s wife. Now, prior to the anthem, they call all competitors onto the floor to recite the oath of not killing anyone, and then they remain there during the anthem. Which meant Sensei’s wife was surrounded by little people as she was singing. And some – one in particular – little people are not all that well behaved. She switched into French for the second verse, and this one boy started pulling on her sweater and talking to her. She ignored him and carried on, but he just wouldn’t let up! He kept on tugging on her sweater and trying to get her attention! And no one was doing anything! There were a few older kids around, but none of them grabbed him and pulled him away. And really, none of the people sitting at the head table could do anything. But I’d be willing to bet that kid won nothing all day…..To her credit, she managed to ignore him and not falter through the song, but oh, she was ticked! I spoke to her later and she was still hopping mad at this kid!
They started with weapons, and to make a long story short, Sean won third in his division. Brianna didn’t win a medal, but her bo kata looked – to me at least – the best I’ve ever seen her do. She told me after that she’d messed up by announcing one kata and performing another. Not good. She didn’t even realize she’d done it till she sat down and one of the other competitors mentioned it to her. Also, at one point in the middle she completely forgot what came next! She held that one stance a little – ok, a lot – longer than she should’ve while she was frantically trying to remember what came next!
Sean didn’t place in kata, but he won second in sparring. He won his first two matches 3-0, but the girl he went up against for the final match was an absolute power house! She was incredible to watch! It was no surprise she beat him, but he did make her work for her medal, taking the score to 2-2 before she scored the final point!
There was a bit of a glitch in Brianna’s sparring, as the judges told her she couldn’t wear her shin pads, which are attached to her foot pads, not separable. We hadn’t been told this, nor was it anywhere in the documentation I have, so she was very upset. I was sitting with another mom, and her daughter had just finished competing. We were watching the drama in Brianna’s ring, and T said, “She can use mine!” She had her foot pads out of her bag and was running down the bleachers pretty much before we knew what was happening! Considering that she and Brianna have a really intense in-class rivalry going, I was very impressed by her sportsmanship in leaping in to help out! She took the pads over to Brianna, who promptly put them on, and the sparring got underway. I know I say this at every tournament, but at every tournament Brianna continues to surprise me by stepping up her performances during sparring. In training she’s very weak, more inclined to run away from her partners, but in tournament she kicks ass! She quickly caught on to a technique one of her opponents was using repeatedly and turned it around. The girl was doing a sort of flutter kick, hopping on one foot kicking with the other repeatedly. Brianna just blocked the foot, held it out of the way with her arm and scored with a reverse punch. She ended up winning all her matches and bringing home a GOLD medal in sparring! I hadn’t been able to watch the rest of the katas in her group because I was photographing Sean receiving his medal at the time, but she also brought home a bronze medal in kata.
A very impressive showing by both my kids, considering neither of them had really wanted to be in the tournament until a month ago……