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Sometimes, even your best isn't good enough...

So as you can surmise from the title, I didn't get very far in today's tournament. I had two matches, both against brown belts who I felt were my equals in size and skill. I played really well in my first match. I opened the match by trying O-Uchi My first attempt didn't succeed, but it succeeded in planting a seed in my opponent's head to watch out for the O-Uchi. The next time I came in, he reacted to the O-Uchi, and I caught him with Uchimata. He pulled me a little off balance when I threw him, but I didn't hear a call from the ref, and was perplexed that I didn't get at least a Yuko. I found out after the match that I had a Wa-zari! In fact one of my teammates thought I was robbed of an Ippon, but truth be told, I am glad to hear the technique worked. But then I made my mistake. I came in for a third time and I got countered with Ko soto Gake.

 

Second Match, I tried my technique again. My opponent must have been paying close attention to my first match, because he was ready, He tried O-Soto, and I turned in to pick him up - I was thinking of trying Ushiro Goshi, but I turned into his trap, he launched a second effort into O-Soto Makikomi and took me to the mat. I thought I had lost it there, but he only got a wa-zari. Still, because he used a makikomi, he immediately had me in a pin, and 20 seconds later I was done.

Nonetheless I thought I played well. Mark, who I'd met several times at Oishi's Dojo, told me that sometimes you play your best and still go 0-2, and that feels better that winning without working for it. I definitely feel good about this tournament, and that I am improving. The good things I take away are that my favorite combination works well out of the Dojo, and that I can overcome my fears. The bad things of course, are that one combination doesn't make a champion, so I need to work on being less predictable and expanding my repertoire.

In addition to playing well, I learned and enjoyed a lot of other things about the tournament:

 

- I met up with Steve (who was reffing) and Mark from Oishi's dojo, both of whom are great guys, and who are fun to play against, and offered good pointers and advice. Mark also thought my combo was strong. Mark and his two sons competed and he and one of them took first. The other took third, but he was playing up in a division of kids 2 years older than him.

- I met several interesting Judoka, each with their own story. There was the guy who fought in 3 divisions - taking second in two and first in one (he played his own weight class, then 1 up and 2 up!), and he probably would've done better had he not busted his elbow. It's great to be 18 and full of energy. There was the blind guy who came out and played regular rules - I think he went one and one - just seeing him was inspiring enough, but then I was talking to his sister, who told a few of us that his sensei - another brother of theirs - had died a few months prior, the blind judoka had promised him he would keep practicing and competing. When he won his match, and when he got his medal, he got a huge ovation from the crowd. There were several father-son teams in the tournament - which is always encouragement that I might play alongside my kids one day. Finally, there was another person at the competition with a similar sounding name. I kept getting confused whenever they called him instead of me. Nice guy, roughly my age, and a dad with 5 kids. He one his first match handily, but then dislocated his shoulder in the second match and had to concede. Still 1 and 1 was good enough for second place. I asked him in the locker room if his shoulder hurt. His reply - 'Not as much as it will hurt when my wife finds out!'

- I warmed up with Mark, and he was using a Gill Sports Gi, Another wish list item! Ironically, I thought of buying one a couple of years ago when it was still $1.20 Canadian to every US dollar.

- I got to watch a lot of Judo - both adults and kids, and got to see some really good waza. Including a textbook Tomoe-Nage and an amazing standing Seoinage where the uke was practically doing a handstand on top of tori. There were no doubts that both of those throws were ippon, and I think everyone in the room had a sense of jealousy and awe when they pulled off those throws.

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