So Saturday 26 May 2007 heralded my first time participating in a fighting tournament. I had been looking forward to this for weeks, and to be honest, was a little annoyed when I caught a cold a little before the tournament date. Luckily it seemed to have cleared more or less, meaning I was go for Saturday. Weigh in and registration was at 12:00 on Saturday, so I buggered off down to Sarepta Sports Centre in Bellville South (dodgy area avoid if possible) and filled my name in on the dotted line. I was a bit shocked at the weigh in though, clocking well over 90kg (I knew I had been out of the loop with the cold and fatigue in the weeks running up to the tournament, but never in my wildest dreams would I have guessed that I had picked up almost 10 extra kilograms over that time period!) That also was more or less where the nightmare of disorganisation was thrust upon me.
Now I’ve attended quite a few karate tournaments before when I was still dating Liz and you can usually see when things are well run and when they arent. Saturdays tournament was quite frankly the worst organised event I’ve ever been to. Thank god they at least had 1 main fighting mat just too bad they didnt have the referees to go with it. No one knew when they were fighting, the order in which events took place was rather comical (not in a funny, more in a haphazard) and there was a rather distinct lack of medical support staff (they didnt have anyone luckily a student kind of stepped in for a while). There were no designated areas and to be honest the place was in quite a bit of shambles. Now as I said the weigh in was at 12:00 my first fight was only just before 18:00, meaning we sat about doing nothing the entire day! But a person couldnt risk leaving, because you simply didnt know when next you might be summoned. And of course the lack of referees and a schedule meant that the day went on a lot longer than what it should have.
Three of us from the Brackenfell Lions dojo took part, namely Jacques, Anton and I. But as all three of us fall in different weight and age categories, none of us were going to be squaring off against one another which is always a nice thing. My first event happened rather suddenly. I was sitting watching the kiddies fight when I heard the call for the semi-contact senior open division to start. Luckily I was already kitted out (since 12:00 the afternoon dammit!) and I quickly slotted in. I was first up, and I thought I did pretty okay for not having warmed up or learning the rules literally before the start of the fight (The rules are a lot different from a normal fight, especially in terms of what techniques are allowable). I fought a black belt who was actually from a weight class below me and though I thought we were pretty even, I did lose to him on points at the end of the short bout (A fight usually consists of a single round of 3 minutes in length). But I was happy in that I felt I controlled the fight in terms of where it was taking place and in the fact that I was going forward the whole time. I did take a straight arm punch to the nose, but being a semi-contact fight meant that we were wearing gloves and shinpads.
Having got the warm-up out of the way it was on to the main event: the full contact mens senior open weight division so I went to sit down in a chair and wait. A long while later I finally got the call for the start of the event, so I hurried off to the mat (only to quickly sprint back and collect my gum guard which I had forgotten unlike semi-contact the only gear allowed is a ball-box and a mouth guard). This is a bare knuckle heavyweight knockdown brawl. Apart from punching to the face, kicking to the groin and grabbing hold of your opponent, pretty much anything else is allowed. However at the point in the evening, everyone was basically at a mental stage where they couldnt care less. Wed been waiting the whole day already and basically I just wasnt psyched for this thing at all. I didnt even bother warming up for it, thats how bad it was. Plus, our couch Jason had left earlier in the day thanks to an illness hes been unable to shake off the last couple of weeks.
Seeing as there were only 3 people in the open division (sorry, in case you don’t know, it is for fighters weighing over 80kg) which meant that I was guaranteed two fights no matter my result in them.
My first fight was against Dave, a guy I know from the main Sea Point dojo, and my second against a black fighter who I hadnt seen in action before. Both my opponents are black belts while I wallow in the second lowest level at orange (it takes 1 year of training to grade to orange from white while it takes more or less 7 years minimum to get to your first level black belt, just to give you an idea in the difference in experience. 7 might actually be an inaccurate number: it probably takes more). In Daves case, I also give away about a 20kg and good height advantage as well.
But man I’m disappointed with my fights! [Yes, I did lose them, but it was the manner in which I fought that pisses me off :( – Dave I didn’t stand a chance against though: he’s legs are too heavy, turned me every time he swept me] The minute the signal to begin was given, my mind went completely blank! I didnt fight to even 20% of my potential and I looked like Id never sparred before in my life! *hrumph* Combined with my complete lack of focus or even the slightest will to win, meant I really gave a lacklustre performance and that is something I deeply regret. Also, my sickness before the tournament had actually taken more of a toll on my fitness that what I had realised, but still, I should have least tried a little harder!
But not all is lost. I can take a few positives out of this first experience for me. Firstly, I felt no fear whatsoever. Secondly, I at least followed my game plan of taking the fight to my opponent: I never stepped back and always made sure I was in their face and going forward. Thirdly, I picked up absolutely no injuries! Apart from my knees that were a little stiff the next morning, I really walked away completely unscathed. Fourthly, Shihan Kenny (the highest ranked guy in charge of the Kyokushin branch I’m part of) told Jason that he had been impressed by my performance which apparently wasnt too bad for an orange belt in their first competition, especially considering that it was in the heavy-hitting heavyweight division. And lastly I got a cool trophy for 3rd place to boot! Yes, it is a losers trophy, but if you don’t tell anyone there were only 3 fighters then it doesnt matter ;)
Its shiny plastic, but it looks damn nice on my shelf
Below are the videos of my two full contact fights (commentary provided by Ryan, Terrance and Chantelle thanks a million for the support!)
For download purposes: (Careful, they’re large files)
- Fight #1 – Click here (.AVI) (29.2 MB) (29/05/2007)
- Fight #2 – Click here (.AVI) (21.1 MB) (29/05/2007)
Slightly smaller files