Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Karate Kid

Casey had his first karate tournament this weekend. I wasn't even going to sign him up for the tournament because he's only been in karate for a couple of months, but some of the other parents convinced me that I should let him do the tournament because then he would be less nervous when he had to get tested at the end of the year for his belt. They then regaled me with stories of how their own children had gotten to their first tournament and panicked, refusing to leave the stands until the karate teacher came and dragged them out onto the floor weeping. Yikes -- we can't have that, I thought. So I signed him up.

So even though he was missing flag football to go to the tournament, he was excited about it. He had been practicing his three-step sparring in karate class for the last four weeks, but I don't think he really understood what the word "tournament" meant until we pulled up into the parking lot and he saw the other children he didn't know with their uniforms on. His eyes got wide and for the first time all morning, he stopped talking.

When we walked into the gymnasium there were probably 100 kids in there, plus instructors and older students helping out, and the kids were immediately ushered away from their parents to sit with their grouping by belt color. More than one kid buckled under the pressure at that point and started crying and holding onto their mom's leg, but Casey took his shoes off and went right out onto the floor.

They practiced for half an hour and then they competed against two other students in their group and were ranked first, second, and third (so everyone gets a medal). I will confess that while I was watching Casey compete against the two little girls in his group, I was praying, "Please not third, please not third, please not third." I felt awful the whole time I was praying that because if Casey didn't place third, it meant one of those sweet little girls would place third and I almost couldn't bear it for them.

But here is Casey's big moment -- he had to wait a looooong time before it was his turn and I was worried he would totally forget what he was doing, but he didn't and I was so proud:

He placed 2nd in his group of three -- he came very close to placing first (or I think he did anyway -- the judges held up three scoreboards and you had to add them up to get the total score, and well, you know how I am at math):

Look at all those smiling kids! You know why they're smiling -- it's cause they ALL got a medal! Competitions didn't work that way when I was young. When I went to gymnastics meets, we had 1st through 4th place awards and if there were 10 kids in your age group, 6 were going home without anything but the program. If everyone had gotten a medal at every meet, enrollment at the gym would have gone way up. Once tournament organizers realized that giving every kid an award meant more people signed their kids up for tournaments, they started making serious money. And as much as the "award for everyone" system waters down what true competition is all about and probably makes our country weaker, as a mom of a not-so-athletic kid, I'm on board now because the flipside is discouraged kids who quit competing altogether because they never win anything. And also, if Casey didn't win something I would cry. Really.

It's possible that I'm more proud of that silver medal than Casey is. I've been carrying it in my purse since the tournament looking for an opportune moment to let it casually fall out of my purse so someone else will notice it and I can say, "Oh dear, look at that, I've dropped my son's second place medal. . . what's that? . . . oh, he had a karate tournament this weekend and placed second in his group" -- I would leave out the part about there only being three people total in his group. Why clutter up a simple conversation with irrelevant information?


  1. Way to go Casey !! Ok, the last paragrapgh made me laugh out loud! And who is that handsome kid on the left? :) Ahlem

  2. Great job, Casey!!!

    Jennifer, I want to see that medal drop out of that purse too!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.