blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Topic the First:

4th Street was a great experience this year--a great and glorious disproving of my usual silly pre-con anxiety of "This time no one will acknowledge my existence." For me, the most wonderful parts are between and/or triggered by the scheduled events. It's the conversations about why some authors successfully cross genre lines, examining creeping biases, opening publishing opportunities, determining themes, working with and as a beta reader, and and and... Truly, I LOVE those free-ranging conversations. I love even more that I can share them with folks who equally love them.

Part of me would be just fine with a con that had a mere three conversation-launching panels a day, and that's the fault of fascinating people who are willing to share their thoughts and experience outside the panels.

As always, there is never enough time to talk at length with every person I'd like to. That's the downside to knowing a small handful of really cool people; they keep introducing you to other cool people! And though I did make an effort to be more deliberate in spending time with a variety of folks this year, I missed a couple folks I deeply wanted to chat with. (I'm looking at you, John Wiswell!) Alas, I think this is an unfixable thing for me, for even if the con were a day or two longer, I tend to hit the Wall of Introvert Overload at around 72 hours. I simply lose the ability to be intelligently sociable with more than one person at a time at that point.

Topic the Second:

Sirens Conference! My afternoon class proposal was accepted!

I'll be presenting The Movement You Don't See. The (still unofficial) description is:

Fight scenes require more than cool choreography, but not everyone has years to invest in fight-training before writing their epic adventure! Here's your chance to learn lesser-known physical details of fighting through the practices of kata--the martial arts training tool of choreographed techniques.

In this movement-filled workshop, you'll discover the internal landscape of a fighter--the grounding, power generation, body awareness, and exertion your fighting characters experience in action. Whether writing a training montage, or an experienced fighter's battle, having the "insider" experience will add depth and realism.

Physical activity is included, but not required. Observers and listeners are welcome.

Yes, it's exciting to present at Sirens, but it's also exciting to share why kata is such an effective training tool for mind-body awareness and self-defense. (Check out The Purpose of Kata for a preview on that.) It's the little things that matter, and I'm so looking forward to passing a few of those things along. How a pelvic tilt affects the strength of a block, how the angle of the back foot affects the strength of a strike, how the lift of the shoulder affects stamina... All these things and more.

Honestly, I wish I could get a two-hour block of time. :)

Topic the Third:

I'm in the process of putting reader feedback together with writerly goals to determine my upcoming project schedule. For me, determining a schedule that is both satisfying and realistic (and it's the latter I fail at, alas) required breaking down the projects by wordcount. The process revealed I've an estimated 1,135,000 words to write if I want to complete everything on my list.

This is exciting and comforting! Truly, I could fail to generate a new idea for about three years before running out of material. I'm set for the near future. :)

Topic the Last:

That hip dysplasia thing.

Remember when I fell down the stairs a couple months ago? Yeah. Well, I just assumed it happened because my left knee and ankle have always been weaker and more prone to injury. Come to find out that is true... but the reason it's true matters. When the left hip suffers from inflammation, it puts pressure on the nerve running down the front of my thigh, and the nerve doesn't then function properly, which causes the left leg to collapse. It's like trying to do push-ups with one arm having "fallen asleep."

The fact the nerve pressure isn't causing pain is actually a bad thing, in my opinion. If I felt pain, I'd know to take it easy. Instead, my "warning" that something is wrong usually comes in the form of the leg collapsing. That fall down the stairs isn't the first time it has happened, but it was the first in a series. Even now, as I'm sitting in a restaurant to write this, the front of my left thigh is getting that "falling asleep" sensation because I've sat in one position too long.

But here is the COOL thing. [ profile] mrissa introduced me to a physician who also has a martial arts background, and who understood in a heartbeat my internal crumbling over this whole thing.* I'm still not at all ready to roll into surgery (not only for personal reasons, but financial and logistical ones), but her quiet words and empathy carefully tunneled through a wall others have beaten upon for quite some time.

She's one of those folks I wish I would have had more and more and more time with, truly. Medical stuff aside, she's a cool person.

So there's the lesson I can pass along today: One way to get someone to do something they don't want to do is to understand fully and deeply why they don't want to do it, and share that understanding without judgment.

There is no Topic the Fourth. I'll see what I can come with another time. :)

*Yes, I hid out to cry after our conversation. Truly, if you ever want to see my cry, don't try to insult or hurt me. Be nice and kind and empathetic. Does the trick every time.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
This article originally appeared for patrons only at Patreon.  Because they’re wonderful patrons, they support making the articles on self-defense and fight scenes available to everyone within a month of the original posting.  So if you like it, thank the patrons, or consider becoming one yourself!

Before I hit the tactics, I want to share this most marvelous video by Karate Culture on the grappling techniques within traditional Okinawan kata.  If you’ve read my articles for awhile, you’ll know I’m not a fan of teaching throws as a universal self-defense technique because their application is limited mostly to people who are quite able-bodied, well-trained, and being targeted by a single attacker.  That doesn’t mean I don’t like, train, teach, and use grappling!  Just check out the awesomeness of that video.  You won’t regret it.

And now…

1. Applying good craft to writing fight scenes is 95% of the battle.

Grammar is about writing well and properly—a necessary skill if we want readers to sink into our stories rather than decipher odd and misleading sentence constructions.

But storytelling?  That’s the craft I’m talking about.

You understand how to structure a scene, describe a new setting, and define a character’s role in the secondary world you’ve created.  You know how to portray a character’s stroll through the prison yard or verbal argument in the mess hall.  You’ve shown the joy they feel partaking in gardening, the intrigue of hunting for secrets in a library, the fear of creeping through a forest on a moonless night, the simple process of walking from personal lodgings to, say, the riverfront.

You successfully write action as part of building plot and character.

Fight scenes are no different.  Really, truly, my darlings, they are no different.

The fight scene isn’t something separate from the story itself, no more than describing setting or revealing backstory or creating the dialog of an argument is a break from forward action.  Apply the same tools of craft you use everywhere else.

2. Communicating combat principles is more important than relaying combat details.

I’m certain someone will ping me for saying so, but it’s true.

The make and model and emissions output and towing capability and average heat generation and speaker alignment are the most important elements of a car chase, right?  Or maybe it’s the composition of the road’s asphalt, angles of the corners, temperature of the tires, and the history of road construction that readers most want to know about while the bad guy speeds away, yes?

Oh, please, no.  While all those things will impact a car chase, rare is the reader who wants to have all those elements related in detail in the midst of a car chase as if they must soon solve a word problem based on the available listed data.

Do you want me to tell you how the materials of the tires interact with the hot pavement on that Texas road?  Or do you want me to describe how the stink of burned rubber and smoke made me grit my teeth and squint as I chased after the murderer who knew the Texas backroads better than I ever would?

Don’t get mired in step-by-step instructionals on body positions and fist trajectory. Use instead the principles of fighting.  Speed, mass, leverage, and momentum.  Pain, focus, struggle, and fear.  Expectation and surprise.  Determination and exhaustion.  Landing the punch is damned important, but the consequence of the punch and the reason it was thrown is what moves character and story forward.

Besides, a reader shouldn’t need to pull out a slew of action figures to envision what’s actually happening.  (On the other hand, you might need those action figures, depending on the complexity of the fight.  I’m not ashamed to say I’ve staged stuffed animals on my office floor to keep track of things.  A little sheepish, maybe, but not ashamed.)

3. Do not mistake sport fighting and performance fighting for actual fighting.

The past few decades have seen an incredible rise in tournament martial arts, particularly for children.  As a result, a great many martial arts schools teach primarily techniques with an emphasis on strikes and kicks that will score points, and discourage, through penalties and punishments, techniques intended to end a fight quickly by seriously injuring your opponent.

These rules are appropriate for the setting.  Few parents want to see their middle school child get her throat smashed in and her knee dislocated.  But the rules have consequences when the distinction between sport-centered training and fight-centered training is smudged over student-teacher generations.  In a high-pressure hurt-or-be-hurt confrontation, those students won’t go for the fight-ending attacks unless they have been trained to fight in non-tournament settings.

There is also an entire tournament track for martial arts weapons performance, some of which involve setting routines to music.  There are staffs and swords twirled and tossed, or nunchaku whirled in tight circles around the body, and there are often jump-kicks and back-flips thrown in for flash and dash.  These have as much to do with the act of fighting as rifle drill teams do with shooting, or majorettes do with stick-fighting.

Yes, they all take skill and have roots in combat training, but no soldier is going to start twirling and tossing his gun in the middle of a fight.  And critical and high-stakes fight scenes shouldn’t read like a retelling of a tournament.

When characters fight to prove ability or dominance, sparring techniques and targets are appropriate, just as it’s considered appropriate to punch a person playing grab-ass without consent but not considered appropriate to carve remove the person’s windpipe.

But a trained fighter trying to avoid being killed won’t expend a bunch of time tagging the villain’s jaw and punching to the gut.  Knuckles to the throat work much more quickly.  Fight scenes shouldn’t be one-blow affairs, but a person fighting for life itself is highly motivated to keep trying to make it so.

Indiana Jones opted out of using his whip to defeat the sword-spinning man in the marketplace.  And Han shot first.  Smart characters.

4.  The most interesting fights focus on revealing weaknesses, not forcing greater strength.

I never much liked watching sport fighting.  It all looked like little more than two people bashing on each other until one just couldn’t take it anymore.  Then I learned what went into a fight—angles, footwork, targeting, drills done so often the body moved without hesitation, experience that turned those base reactions into flowing responses—and realized brute strength was the lesser power in comparison.

Such it is with writing the fight scene.

We like to watch the protagonist find the strength—of body, of will, of heart—to drag herself to her feet one… last… time… to take down the villain with a final, all-encompassing blow.  We cheer the grit, the perseverance, the determination, the spirit of well-earned triumph.  The final battle!  The climax!  The victory over self and enemy!

But the truth is, the protagonist wins because she also finds, attacks, and exploits the villain’s weakness—just as the villain has done to her all along.  Rather than expend all your writerly energy building up the protagonist to impossible levels of power and strength, invest it knowing too the villain’s weaknesses.

What the characters choose to do with each others’ weaknesses usually creates greater depth than forging a bigger, badder weapon.

A battle of power against power requires constant escalation, and that stops being interesting after awhile.  Searching out and evaluating weaknesses is a twisty, curvy process of surprises and unpredictability.  It happens quickly in hand-to-hand combat, to be sure, but it happens nonetheless.

(This is applicable to plots, too, btw.)

5.  Know the expectations of your target audience.

This is where all the possible nuances of advice items #2 and #3 come into play.

Readers of different subgenres hold unique expectations of how worldbuilding or technology or character emotions should be presented, explored, and emphasized.  The same goes for rendering fights and action.  It isn’t a matter of one subgenre wanting more or less of a fight than another. Rather, readers expect different aspects of a fight to play greater or lesser roles in the narrative.

A paranormal romance reader wants a fight scene that is just as well written as a military SF reader does, but wants different pieces of that fight to receive more attention.

The differences expose why one reader bounces off a flashy, drawn-out fight scene that other readers rave about, or finds depth and realism in a fight scene that seems to have little physical description amidst a great deal of emotional reactions.  And that understanding circles back up to the first point: fight scenes require the same considerations of craft as any other part of the writing process.  Know what your readers expect from your action scenes, and construct them accordingly.

Questions?  Comments?  Disagreements?  All are welcome!

blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
If you talk about martial arts long enough, someone will eventually say, "What's the point of kata? You can't use it in a real fight. The only thing kata is good for is tournaments."

I mightily disagree.

Kata is, in simple terms, a series of choreographed movements -- punches and kicks, stances and turns, blocks and attacks and evasions. From the outside, it looks as if one fighter is taking on multiple attackers coming at her, one at a time, from different directions. Many martial arts use them as a training tool, with some arts and schools putting greater emphasis on them than others.

A friend recently asked me about the purpose of kata. I gave a short answer, then realized how different today's answer was from the answer I might have given ten years ago, or even five years ago. My understanding has changed -- not only because of my training, but because of my teaching experience.

At first, kata serves to instill rudimentary body awareness and muscle function. We're talking very rudimentary here. The student must learn, at the bare minimum, to be aware of and in control of what her body and all its parts are doing at any given moment. Most people can stand up and throw a punch with their left hand, but will not be able to say what the right hand was doing without looking at their right hand. Ask if the knees were bent or straight, or if the chin was lifted or tucked, and she will have no clue. Ask her to keep track of all those things while moving from one technique to the next with at least a smidgeon of intensity, and things quickly fall apart.

Taught properly, kata teaches such total body awareness. In my experience as an instructor, it takes most students six to twelve months to perform a basic kata with something approaching body awareness. Even my most athletically gifted kids will take awhile to reach awareness. Certainly they can perform the techniques sooner than other students, but unless they can connect the mind to identify and verbalize, they've essentially learned only half of the kata's first lesson. Body awareness, you see, is another way of saying "focus," and an athlete who can't think through what the body is doing is like a general who knows the best tactics but has no strategy. Deadly, perhaps, but pointless unless someone else tells them what to do.

That first level is where some instructors stop. The student memorizes a pattern, puts effort into throwing techniques that look good and works up a sweat, and the instructor calls it good. That's both the cause and result of all the "Kata is useless!" cries that come up. Let me go deeper into what kata is intended to accomplish, and you'll see why stopping there misses so much.

Kata teaches muscle memory for fighting techniques, and how the kata is taught -- from breath control to muscle tension to transitions between obvious techniques -- will influence how the student fights under pressure. A basic kata will include an overhead block. It's an extremely versatile technique, able to be used as "just" a block, a block on the way to a strike, or a block after a hidden strike. Or it can be turned into an arm lock, a forward momentum throw, a trip-and-throw, an evasion of a weapon... You get the idea. But none of those can be carried out against a determined opponent making a committed strike if the correct muscle memory isn't there. If small pieces are off -- one foot angled wrong, the hips canted, the arm disengaged from the core muscles -- chances are high the attacker will overwhelm you.

Self-defense drills are fantastic, but speed and form are more difficult to control, and drills are practiced with people who know what you're going to do next. Attackers in the classroom (usually) have no desire to be broken, so will follow the energy-lead of the student they're attacking. It can allow even the best students to get away with less-than-strong techniques. (Very strong students often get away with extremely crappy technique, but that's another post entirely!)

Correct kata doesn't let students cheat. If your stance is incorrect, I'll be able to push you over with my fingertips. If your stance is correct, you'll remain rooted even if I thump you in the shoulder.

And once the student can run kata with proper muscle memory -- as well as strong pacing and intensity -- that memory begins to show up in sparring and self-defense. Progress in self-defense is accelerated by the time invested in kata. The student, especially the student who thinks kata is boring and sparring is most awesome, is usually the last to see the connection, even though she stands to gain so much sparring and self-defense skill.

So: Kata provides body awareness, conditioning, and muscle memory, as well as the components of those skills like balance, coordination, focus, strength, and agility. But there are two other benefits I want to emphasize—things I hear too rarely discussed even among talented fighters.

First, kata conditions ligaments and tendons, which increases strength and power while decreasing incidence of injury. Ligaments and tendons are those connective tissues that create a moveable human out of meat and bones. Alas, they are often forgotten in the quest for strength as measured by muscle-isolating gym machines. The trouble is, muscle strength increases at a faster rate than tendon/ligament strength, which can lead to injuries, plateaued development, and weird situations like very muscle-strong bodybuilders being unable to throw a ball any reasonable distance.

In martial arts, muscle-over-connector emphasis leads to stiff movements (and stiffness is usually just a poor proxy for force), sloppy form (as the student tries to create false momentum through a "wind-up" or some such), and painful injuries at the joints.

The repetition of kata sidesteps the notion of building muscles in isolation of natural movement. It teaches tendons and ligaments and muscles to all work together, to contract and relax in the optimum order, and to support each other to increase strength and reflex while reducing injury. And since constant muscle tension isn't used to generate power, the student's oxygen reserves remain higher. The result is power that seems to be greater than the person's strength and stamina that outlasts the opponent. This is not spiritual magic. It's practiced internal and external coordination.

(PSA: If you're a martial arts student getting injured a great deal, find a different instructor and a different school. Seriously. Unless you're an ass who refuses to follow any and all directions, you're suffering injuries because of the way you're being taught.)

Second, kata teaches you to move with your center, and your center to move with you. Sounds simple, doesn't it? It isn't at all. Without a solid center, forward movement is most often initiated from the shoulders, and rapid changes in direction result in loss of balance, injuries, or falls. In other words, we move our upper body and forget to take our legs along. Kata teaches you how to move from and with your center.

Not only does this make everyday life more comfortable, it's essential in a fight. A fighter who knows how to hold her center won't lunge to the side and leave a leg sticking out, or raise the shoulders before a strike, or lead with the chin (which results in blocking with one's face...). Holding center makes it possible to throw someone bigger and stronger while making it difficult for someone bigger and stronger to throw you. Trust me – if you lose your balance, someone else will find it, and Finders-Keepers rules in a fight.

Sure, there are lots of ways all these lessons can be taught and learned. Fighters learn them all the time from drills, from sparring, from trial and error, from any number of methods that provide the means to feel the difference between stability and rigidity and an opportunity to repeat it endlessly. If your student has innate athletic ability, you can get spectacular results by providing some general guidance, letting the talented student find the "right" posture, then reinforcing it with small corrections and encouragements.

But if your student is clumsy, uncoordinated, and distractible, that's a setup for failure. The student gets frustrated. The instructor gets frustrated. By the time the student hits brown belt (often around two years of training), the difference between athletic and non-athletic become much clearer, and no one is so clear on the difference than the non-athletic brown belt. Many brown belts quit because they don't see any improvement, and are given little instructor guidance other than, "Keep trying!"

So what's the real answer? What's the thing that can keep those students going and growing? What's the super-secret method, developed over decades?

Kata. Not because of its strikes or kicks, or blocks or turns, or any of its component techniques. Not because the student learns choreographed movements in a controlled environment.

And why kata so valuable?

Because everything outlined above--the techniques, balance, coordination, centering, and flow of movement--teaches people with little or no natural athletic ability how to be capable fighters. Armed with those tools, the instructor doesn't have to wait around for the One True Student Of Great Talent. The student doesn't have to give up learning what comes easily to others. Kata is the perfect self-defense training tool for the student who struggles.

That's it, right there. The true and hidden purpose and application of kata.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
I always feel a bit out of sync for the week after karate camp. The camp facility has a decent internet connection, and though I tend to read postings and such during the week, everything but the training and the teaching seems so very far away.

And this time, I've a shiny new kata to work on alongside the other three I'm fine-tuning. By the end of August, I'll need to add polish to two additional weapons katas as well.

My teacher would really, really like to see me test for Sandan in November. I would as well, but those weapons katas aren't anywhere near where they ought to be.

And Dev needs a resume, and still needs to get his driver's license (a matter he seems strangely under-motivated to address). And we're finalizing his upcoming school year's commitments.

So I'm back, and full of ideas, and wanting to finish a couple short projects, yet the actual production end is veeeeeeery sloooooow.

And I'm still trying to unwrap my head from karate long enough to make interesting responses to emails, posts, and such.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Today the 30-day blog challenge is to describe a typical day from my life.

I do not have typical days.

The best and the worst thing about being self-employed in three different fields--karate, wellness, writing--while also homeschooling a teenager is that no two consecutive days will be alike. Toss in a sister who works as a flight attendant while parenting my little nephews, parents who love to spend time with extended family, and two crazy-sweet dogs, and it is guaranteed days will be interesting in the ancient proverb sense.

Let's take today, for instance.

Up at eight in the morn (because I suck at early rising) to get laundry rolling and hoe the garden before it gets to muggy. By nine, the garden has been weeded, laundry is well underway, breakfast has been eaten by human and canine residents, and I've settled in to answer wellness emails while Dev works through his assignments in algebra and economics. We talk about Doctor Who somewhere in there. At a few minutes after eleven, Dev and I head out the door, with Dev driving. (We're trying to figure out how to get the time for his driving test in before the end of the month.)

Dev sees his econ/algebra teacher for two hours. In that time, I run to the printing shop to pick up karate-related stuff, then see a karate student at his own factory to provide a private lesson on kata and kicks. We finish ten minutes late, which means I barely make it back to the teacher's office in time. But the teacher is also running late, so all's good. I return phone calls while I wait: a client looking for info on digestive enzymes, the mechanic trying to schedule what might be an all-day job for my car, someone seeking information on karate classes.

By the time we return home, it's a little after two. The dogs dance on their back legs as if we've been gone forever and threatened to never return. Fortunately, the Lab didn't find any unattended food items to devour, and the Bull-Boxer-Rotty didn't tear up anything in his crate, so their greetings were well-received. We indulge in many minutes of playing with the dogs because it makes the entire day better for all involved.

Then came the midday ninety minutes with Dev, when we make something quick and easy for lunch before sitting down to watch one of the nighttime shows we record to watch together. Today was the most recent episode of Falling Skies. I ate a Sloppy Joe and salad. Dev had the Moo Shu left over from last night and a banana.

After the show, we chatted for a bit before Dev had to start his government assignment and I had to be out the door. I reached the dojo just five minutes ahead of both my instructor and my sparring partner. Fifteen minutes of kata work and forty-five minutes of sparring followed. Less than five minutes after the end of practice, I bowed beginning students on the mat for the first class of the evening. Four hours later, around nine, I bowed my last students off the mat. In between, I taught some students a new kata, others a new throw, then worked as both teacher and uki for an hour of multiple-attacker self-defense.

Upon arriving home, a shower--quick and cold--was the second order of business. The first was to hug Dev. Since Dev is working on a Minecraft something or other video and chatting with his international friends, I am left to my own devices: more answering of email, petting the crazy sweet dogs, and writing this post. By eleven, I'll be settled enough to get some fiction in before my eyes begin to cross. By midnight, I'll curl up in bed with my yet-nameless Kindle, and read until I fall asleep somewhere around one in the morn.

And that's about as typical as it gets around here. Tomorrow I'll teach karate again in the evening, and Dev and I will still spend our midday time together, but everything else will be different.

That midday time is most precious to me. Because Dev and I often work evenings, we can't have dinner together very often. Instead, lunch is our time.


Feb. 21st, 2013 03:15 pm
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)

A dear friend recently discussed the impact of knowing and wanting to follow "the rules" when writing first drafts, and how that knowledge and desire gets in the way. Because I'm struggling to learn a new kata right now, I heard in this friend's words the same emotions I've experienced at the dojo, and posted a comment about the "first draft" of a kata.

The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to expand on the idea. However, other things yet to be disclosed ended up eating my "free" time this week, so I'm going to settle for merely tweaking the original comments. It's rough still, but hopefully clear:

The "first draft" of my kata always sucks. Of course it does! I don't yet know the story-fight I'm telling with my movements. It isn't until I've learned the entire kata that I know, physically, what the arc is: where the pacing needs to change, when my focus has to shift, which movements need to be hard or soft, where the transitions need to be measured or abrupt. And, often, it's by coming to understand the intention of the kata's later movements that I am better able to see the intention of the very first movement.

Once I know the pattern (plot), I must "revise" my kata, one piece at a time. It's frustrating and bewildering and danged hard work until everything suddenly aligns. Then what might look like a simple middle block becomes a whole-body movement of power. It can feel like magic. And truly, some of my katas will have crappy parts for a long time because I don't have the skill to do what I know needs to be done. I just keep plugging away at it, alas.

But if I had to follow all the kata rules the first time I learned a new one, I'd give up. The only reason I didn't give up in the beginning? I didn't know the rules. I knew only that I was learning and making progress. I can't yet deliver a perfect shuto (knife hand, a.k.a. "chop") while also learning which stance I'm supposed to be in, the angle of my attack or defense and—most importantly—the movement that leads to the shuto and the movement that follows.

And you know what? The "perfect" shuto in kata might not do me a spitwad of good in a self-defense situation. So the next layer is knowing how to apply the rules, how to adapt them, and how to break them.

There did come a point when the words, "I will never get this right!" stopped being a cudgel with which to beat myself. These days, it's an acknowledgement of a truth. I'm not supposed to get it right. I'm supposed to always do it better. (Why, yes, that point is sometimes lost in total frustration. :)

blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
This was the first tournament of our season.  We have two more--one in March, one in April--before moving into State and Regionals, ending with Nationals in July.  But the first one is really important.  For new students, it's their first experience with the competition experience.  For returning students, and students who aren't bitten by the competitive bug, it's a reason to strive and a chance to build confidence.  For experienced competitors, it's the chance to shake off the off-season dust.

Most of the students I brought to tournament were first-timers.  One of my young men came home with a division trophy, and was totally jazzed he scored sparring points against an opponent of a higher rank.  One of my adults came home with a division trophy as well, and is already planning what she needs to improve for next time.  My youngest students didn't come home with trophies, but all of them won at least two or three rounds before elimination in the largest divisions.  All performances to be proud of!

As for me, I've never been more proud of taking third place.  The woman who placed first is a national champion.  The man who placed second has been on competition teams for five or six years.  Both are people I admire greatly.  And the woman talked me into adding kumite to kata in the next tournament.  Above all, I was happy I didn't embarrass myself or my teachers.  :)


blairmacg: (Default)

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