Chapter 4

21 Oct

Kuk Sool Won Part 4: Tournament fighter

And so, for the two weeks after my delicious undefeated victories over my fellow yellow belts, I trained hard. I mastered every kibonsu I was shown, and knew all the forms by heart. One day, Joe approached me.

“So, today I’m going to teach you a new kibonsu.”

He tells me it is kibonsu #10. Little does he know that I not already learned it, but mastered it.

“Oh. Do you know Kibonsu #11?”

I perform it flawlessly.

“Well! We’re going to have to put you on the adult learning scale then!”

There are not words that can adequately express the joy and pride I felt during that moment. Here I was, a mere 8 year old, learning this system as fast as grown ups do. At this rate, I’d be a black belt in no time.

My hunches were more accurate than I expected, since the following week there was another belt test. This belt test was rather, well, bland. It was very similar to the yellowbelt test; in fact, it was exactly the same as the yellowbelt test. The same kibonsu, an extremely similar kata, and break a board with a palm strike. I’m a little disappointed; someone who learned on the same level as adults should be more challenged by his cirriculum! I wallowed in self pity for the following week as no new kata or kibonsu were taught. I became bored and angry towards the students who were learning new information. Finally, Joe came along to bring me out of the darkness, and into the light. He proposed something more challenging than anything I had ever faced.

A tournament.

This was no regular tournament; there would be kata, AND sparring, in two weeks time. He told me to do both, and that he personally would help me prepare. This was most excellent, most excellent indeed!

The next class, I meander around until Joe walks into the room. I scoot closer to him, hoping he’ll remember he promised to help me prepare. He leads the class in the warm up while Johnny Four fingers escapes to his office. After the warm up, I stand close to him again, waiting patiently for him to privately fine tune my kata, and turn me into a sparring mad man. What happened instead was being paired with Obesity for more kibonsu. Kibonsu I had already mastered. Kibonsu that weren’t in the tournament. What the hell Joe!?

Next class I’m met with routine disappointment, practicing kicks the entire class. The last week before the tournament Norm helps me with my kata; we hadn’t sparred since I defeated all of the then yellowbelts.

Finally, the Saturday of the tournament appears. My mom irons my uniform, and I steady my mind. There is a long day ahead of me, and I need to be prepared.

We arrive and pay the fee of 150$. My dad mumbles about how outrageous it is, but I don’t care. It is my day to test my mettle against other KSW users from across the Houston/Texas area. I’m given the number of 12, and am told to listen for either my name or my number. I sit among the huddled masses and wait patiently. I scope out the competition; nothing of merit.

“#12!”

I stand up, my stomach tied in knots from nervousness. I am to perform katas first; the kata I have chosen is the second kata, and I perform it very well. I hit every cue, and move forcefully! I sit down after I’m done.

They announce the Kata winners….

“In third place, #6!”

A small pigtailed 5 year old jumps and screams in happiness. She is given a decent sized trophy, and stands there.

“In second place, #22!”

An obese 12 year old steps up, and takes his trophy, which is twice the size of the third place trophy. I’m beginning to feel nervous.

“In first place…”

My heart stops.

“#25!”

My heart breaks.

A skinny ugly kid with freckles takes his trophy, which is taller than he is. They all bow, and I hate all of them. To this day, I still hope they all die of colon cancer.

Next is the sparring. The group is noticably smaller; I don’t see any of the kata winners. This is a shame, because I wanted to put them in their ugly places. I wait patiently until 12 is called; I’m to spar a normal looking kid.

What worries me is the person the kid was just joking and talking to is now standing in front of us as the referee, and looks to be about 12 or 13.

We begin the fight. I throw a roundhouse that almost touched his stomach, and reset. Except no point was given. The normal kid throws a front kick, and gets a point. I’m infuriated.

We reset, and I use the Asian Guy Special; flurry of punches, followed by a front kick. I’m still not awarded the point. He throws a roundhouse that I block, then I roundhouse him. I finally, finally get a point. I hate the judge.

We reset, begin is shouted, and we both storm forward and fire off front kicks. We both get the points.

Now is the true test of our mettle, the true test of my abilities! We U ourselves, and bounce. Begin! He charges forward again, I side step. He front kicks, I step back and block at the same time.

Suddenly he explodes in joy, and I explode in confusion as to why he’s exploding in joy. I turn and look, and the judge had given the point to him. They hug eachother, and he runs off.

“Uh, Judge, I blocked.”

“No, you missed. Go sit down.”

“No I didn’t! I stepped back too!”

“Which was it? Blocked or stepped back?”

” I did both!”

“Go sit down.”

I stamp off the mat, and say loudly “BULLSHIT.” I’m 8, and my parents didn’t really care about using bad words. I still get angry about this.

We leave immediately, and my dad is angry about wasting 150$, and I’m angry about being cheated out of the kata and sparring competitions. The next class I tell joe what happened.

“Wait right here.”

Joe runs off to back room, while I sit and fume. He returns holding something in his hand.

“This is a medal I got from a tournament last year. Here, I want you to have it, because I know you did your best.”

I don’t even know how to respond. I’m excited to get the medal more than anything else, including hatred towards other KSW practitioners. I thank Joe, and he tells me to do the best I can next time too, and when I get a medal of my own, I can give that one back to him. In retrospect, that was pretty cool.

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