Posted by: Dad...Guess What?! | October 17, 2011

Like Karate Kid but Judo

My son had his first judo competition this past weekend and it was definitely an experience.  First of all, we had to find the place so we got there kind of early…like setting-up-the-mats early.  It didn’t seem busy at first but it filled very quickly as it got closer to the start time.  I was very anxious because I had no idea how it was organized but luckily I ran into my son’s sensei who gave me the breakdown.

It was going to be a long day.  Apparently, the players are assigned a number that determined the order.  I thought, “oh…they’ll give the younger kids an early number.”  WRONG.  As they were handing out the numbers, the kid before us got 40 and said, “I should just go home.”  Then my son got his number.  68.  Geez.  I looked at my son’s sensei and he politely said, “you’ll be here for a while.”  But, it wasn’t that bad.  We watched a bunch of matches and got a sense on how it was done.  My son also got to play with some of his friends which lessened some of HIS anxieties because we both had similar feeling going in.  I was still freaking out however.

Anyway, we got there at around 7:30am and now it was around 1:15pm and it was his time to compete.  My wife had to work (she was really bummed out) so I was texting her the updates.  I shared that I either had to vomit or take a dump because I was so anxious…but I needed to stay calm for my son.  He actually walked on with no problems.  He had more confidence than soccer. Then it started.  People were yelling, cheering, saying all kind of encouraging stuff, but it was overwhelming.  He didn’t win but he was able to play another match.  Number 73.  Not too bad.

It was now around 2:00pm and my son was tired and a little more anxious after his first match.  He got a taste of “competition” and was reluctant to go again.  Soon, number 73 came up and he had to go.  He was clearly tired and just didn’t want to compete.  At this point, his opponent, ref, and a gym full of parents where waiting for my son.  It felt like a billion eyes are just on us.  I tried to be calm but it wasn’t working.  His sensei pitched in, and that wasn’t working.  I tried to gently walk him to the mat but it was with great resistance.  Finally, I gave him another set of encouraging words and “gently” pushed him to the mat…while again, all eyes watching my every move.

My heart was beating fast after the ref yelled “HAGIME.”  I knew he would do fine, but I wanted him to discover his abilities.  The match started and thirty seconds felt like forever, but he was holding his own.  I continued to yell words of encouragement but couldn’t take my eyes off his face.  He was on the verge of breaking down but continued to push through.  There were points during the match where I thought he had a good chance.  The bell rang and the match was done (which was a little over 2 minutes that felt like forever).  He bowed to his opponent, walked over to him, shook his hand, bowed again, walked over to me, and just cried.  All I could do was hug him and tell him how proud I was.  It took him about 5 or so minutes to calm down.  It must of took everything within him to muscle through that last round.  In the end, he realized he needed to practice more if he wanted to improve.  My wife and I believed that his tears proved his commitment and he actually cared about this sport.

This week’s practice should be interesting.  This competition may impact on how he views practice but then again, he’s 6.  Whatever the case maybe, I’m still proud of him.  Fatherhood.  It’s pretty awesome.


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