My dojo hosted an annual youth karate tournament at a local high school gym a couple of weeks ago. I volunteered to work the concession stand. I figured my superior Walt Disney World Popcorn Vendor cash handling skills weren’t all that rusted. Anyways, I like watching karate competitions.

There were several things about this tournament that I really enjoyed:

  1. All the kids entered the gym floor to tunes like “Eye of the Tiger,” although 75% of them probably have never heard of Rocky.
  2. All kids were grouped by age, rank, and gender. Then, the kids were paired off to those of similar height. The two students did kata just once to the instructor’s count. They either got first place (best out of the two) or second. Both first and second got the same size medal (which was about a large as the palm of my hand). First was gold and second was silver.
  3. For sparring, the kids were grouped and paired off just like in kata. First place (winner of that one fight) got a decent size trophy. Second place got a slightly smaller trophy.
  4. All competitors got a trophy and a medal, regardless how they did.

It was really cool to see all the kids walk out of the gym as winners. Lord knows parents can get way too competitive sometimes. Just ask me about my 14 years playing soccer, 5 years refereeing, and 2 years as a soccer coach. The best thing I ever saw out on a soccer field was this u-10 girl ask her coach, “did we win?” immediately after I blew the whistle, ending the game. The coach asked her, “did you have fun?” the little girl said, “yes.” The coach replied, “Then you won!” The little girl ran off with the biggest grin on her face.