I woke up this Monday morning at 7am to take my usual pre-work run, and for some reason I just could not move. I felt like the Tin Man from Wizard of Oz. I was stiff as a board and had aches in every muscle known to man.
This past weekend was AAU National Team trials in Miami Florida. And we went to represent team West Side! It was also kind of a practice run for myself and Lenn before Worlds.
Let’s just say the tournament was more than we had hoped for. You know that moment in movies when everything slows down and you experience time as a fraction of itself….well that never happens in real life! NEVER. Never…
I won my first match 11 – 4, and felt more disappointed in myself than I have in a longgg time. I felt like I fought beneath my skill level, like I wasn’t at my potential or where I was supposed to be in order to challenge the World. Then after sitting and watching Lenn’s first match, I was definitely jealous. His execution and timing were clean and sharp. He was clearly where he wanted to be. Or so i felt.
My second match was even more disappointing, and I don’t know why. I won 5-2, but I wasn’t sharp, I was too relaxed, and it was almost if I felt the opponent wasn’t worth it. And if he wasn’t worth it I definitely wasn’t worth it either. I could see all his motions, read his fakes, and even still I wouldn’t bother to dodge or move.
“GEEZE-AN-AGES-DORIAN-GET-IT-TOGETHER! YUH-LOSIN-IT AH WA!!!” That’s what I thought as I watched the “world’s slowest narabam” actually hit my hand and score!
After and between my matches I was able to sit and watch Darlin and Lisa’s matches and again I was in awe. Although they’re inexperienced I could see their growth I could see them going outside of their previous realm of skill and developing more. It’s like if life was a game I could see them “leveling up” after their matches even though they lost.
Then there was Lenn.
Man leh me tell allyuh sumtin! I know Lenn since he was a white belt and no good at taekwondo, buh if allyuh see dis boi put don some skills in d tournament allyuh would jump-flip-fly-den cry wid excitemet!!!! [Editor's translation: I've known Lenn since he was new and very bad but believe me, if you could have seen him you'd have been extremely impressed and inspired.] In the two matches he lost he displayed an amazing repertoire of skills, including an AMAZING back-
kick from a clinch that made me fly off the floor nex to d mat screaming at everyone nearby: “OOOOOO U SEE DAT!!!! HE IS MY FRIEND I KNOW HIM!!! I KNOW HIM!!!!”
After seeing displays like that how could I feel positive about my taekwondo? But I still had I the final, and at stake was a spot on the AAU National Team! I should explain that this was a round robin tournament and I was top seed, which means that in the final my opponent had to beat me twice in order to win, where I only had to beat him once.
Coach Chinedum Osuji warmed me up, and he knew there had been something lacking in my previous matches. I can’t say what he did or what he didn’t do, but when he finished speaking to me and warming me up…a fever was burning! And if u guys know me when a fever is buring oooo-boi look out! Trouble coming!
I went out there sharp, clean & calculating.
I felt like i had eyes everywhere.
My skin was tingling soo much my dobok had the shivers!
With my toes I could feel the ridges on the mat beneath my feet…and if u think about it…u NEVER feel the ridges on the mat when you are sparring.
Every zip, every double kick, every off-the-line I was in my elemet…..but I lost 11 – 12.
WAT! Sounds like madness right? I have all these skills and some Johnny-come-lately buss me up! Yeah well scoring is always a debatable thing in taekwondo. But it’s also true that part I where I really felt great was actually only about two minutes and 45 seconds…and a match is 6 min long. So somewhere in the other 3:15, I slipped in my keen senses and sharpness. And I lost.
Man I was vex for about a whole 35 seconds…an when I say vex, I mean I woulda spar with the wind if I’d had a chance! But in spite of that I remembered something much more important to me…
THIS IS FUN!!!! MY GOODNESS I LOVE THIS SPORT!!! The sheer joy of being in the ring, win, lose, knock out or go home missing some teeth, I enjoy every moment of it!!! And instantly i realized: after all that I AM GOING TO FIGHT AGAIN! YESSSS!!!!!
How many pepople ge to lose and fight again! In the same day? Most of the time when you lose you’re finished and you go home. But not today! Man that is sweetttttttttt.
So remember that 2:45 mins I was talking about before? Where I was like batman? Well in the return match it lasted about 4:45 minutes and I got a clear win over my opponent, 9-6. What’s even better, within the match I grew, my skills grew.
You know in the movies when they say time slows down and you experience time as a fraction of itself? That’s a lie it never happens in real life…NEVER.
BUT THIS IS TAEKWONDO BABY!!!! ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN!!!!! RAWR!!!!!!!