Or, a brief tournament report.
Saturday morning, I packed up all my kendo gear, and headed off to San Jose. I was eager to make the 9:00 sign-in deadline for the tournament, and it was a beautiful day. I cruised down 880 until it became 17, then took 85 East. I cruised past a few exits, took the one that looked familiar, then cruised around looking for Leigh High School, where the tournament would be.
And cruised some more.
And some more.
And nothing looked familiar.
So I called Becky to see if she could look up the address, but she wasn’t at home anymore. So then I pulled in at the first gas station I could find, and bought a map. On the way, I passed by about 60 super-old cars pulling out of a parking lot in some sort of super-old car rally. I wanted to follow them around and oogle all the cool old race and touring cars, but remembered I had a previous commitment, and a sign-up deadline!
Turns out, I had just gone one exit too far, and just had to go west a little bit, and found the high school right quick. I grabbed my stuff from the trunk and rushed in, found the sign-up lady, and got myself checked in just as they were closing registration. Whew!
Then I changed, and went into the tournament area, in the high school’s gymnasium / basketball court.
They had the floor divided into four large squares, marked in blue duct tape. Next to each was a table where the judges sat with the scoring lights, and behind them on the walls were the tournament trees with all the competitors’ names. There were four divisions: Children – all ranks, Womens – all ranks, Men – Kyu, Men – Dan, and Team.
Kyu is the 6 ranks below Dan, and Dan is the black-belt equivalent, going 7 or so ranks up. So all the men below Dan-level would fight each other, and all the men above Dan-level would fight each other. In the other groups, all the women of all ranks would fight each other, and everyone no matter the level could fight in the Team division, which was any 5 people from the dojo against any 5 people from another dojo, in a series of one-on-one battles.
The children went first, then the women, then the Men’s Kyu, so I wound up sitting around for a long time before I got to do anything besides watch all the other matches. And my first opponent didn’t show up, so I wound up sitting through the first three rounds of elimination before my first battle. Which means the guy I fought had already beaten 2 guys.
Still, I was valiant, and gave no quarter. I went in there and gave him all I had, and it took him a while to get two good points on me and win the match. Whew!
It took a while to come down from the adrenaline high, such that I could barely hold my chopsticks to eat my lunch right after the fight. Oh, such good times.
All good stories have a flashback, and so does this one. Before my fight, the guy from our dojo leading the “Team” team asked if I’d like to fight on the team. I think someone hadn’t shown up, so he only had 4 people. I said “Sure” and just like that, I was on the team. My teammates were the team leader, a young woman from our dojo who had just (or will-have-just, I forget the sequence of events here) taken 2nd place in the Women’s division at this very tournament, and two other Dan-level guys.
So fast-forward, after the Men – Kyu all finished fighting, the Men – Dan all fought, and then there was a 30 minute break, and the team matches started. We paired off against a team of 5 from the San Mateo dojo, and I was fighting second in the line-up.
The first match started, and my teammate put up a heroic fight, but he is a middle-aged guy, and was beaten by a much younger guy with the same rank as him.
I went in next, and put up as good of a fight as I could, but was quickly beaten by a guy who turned out to be 2nd level Dan – much higher rank than me.
The teammate who was supposed to fight after me had to leave early, so he was subbed by one of our friends in the San Jose dojo – another Kyu-level guy like me, but higher ranking.
He was beaten pretty quick, too.
The last two put up great fights, but were both beaten. Shock of Shocks! We were soundly beaten by the other team. Oh well.
With that done, there was nothing left to do but watch the remaining battles and then the trophy ceremony, so I took off and got back to Hayward in time for the birthday parties for me, Amy, and a nephew.
Hopefully, one day, my nemesis Bruce will return to kendo, and I will be sufficiently advanced to soundly whomp on him.
Yes, that will be the day of reckoning.
Unless I get eliminated before our match.