This time around, I did something that I haven't done before, I judged. Just before the last tournament in November, I discovered that Brown Belts, as well as Black Belts, are allowed to judge. Then a few weeks ago the director at the Bartlett school -- who is also my primary instructor -- mentioned that they were still looking for judges. I confirmed that he wanted me doing that rather than scoring and timekeeping, which I'd previously volunteered to do, and took the training course.
I had volunteered to judge all day, except for at 1:45 when I, and Derrick unfortunately, were competing. So I got there at about 8:15, and helped unload the very large supply of trophies.
Digressing a bit, I should mention that at a NK Chicago tournament every competitor will get at least one trophy, and might get as many as three. Further, each division will be divided if it has between 12 and 16 competitors, or if it is a sparing division and has a noticeable difference in sizes. So they get a lot of trophies each tournament.
After the trophies were unloaded, the judges meeting was held, and I was assigned to be the fourth judge in one of the rings. I was quickly traded by the center judge in another ring who needed to keep her sick son close at hand so she could give him medicine at the appropriate time. Then when we got to the ring we were short a scorekeeper, and the youngest judge ended up taking that role. So at my first time out judging, I ended up as a side judge in a three person team.
I judged 3 rounds in the morning, for a total of 4 scored events and two sparing sessions. The first group was the yellow stripe belts, who are 4 to 7 and have only been doing this for a couple of months. They only did their basics: a couple of paper kicks, one combination on a body pad, and blocking. This was the hardest group to judge since they were so close together. (Later one of the Moms, who I regularly take classes with, agreed that they were a hard group to judge). The next group was slightly more advanced belts in the 4 to 7 range, who did sparing and their basics, which were the same as the basics for the older kids and adults. Finally, we ended up with a group of purple belt (third rank in the black belt track) boys of seven or eight -- after the division had been split into boys and girls and then by size and, coincidentally, by rank. They again did sparring, followed by form and self-defense.
After that, we broke for lunch. During the afternoon session I was scheduled as a reserve judge, but got assigned to an overflow ring for the first afternoon session. Our ring did not end up getting any divisions since all of the ones scheduled in our area either didn't split, or had other rings that they were sent to. After we determined that we weren't going to have anyone, and after apologizing to the center judge that I'd have to leave the next time slot so I could compete, I noticed that the rest of the family was upstairs eating.
I headed up and joined them as they finished their lunch. Apparently, Tara had misread the time sheet, and rushed out before eating lunch. After finishing, we headed back downstairs and I got into my sparring equipment (which I hadn't worn all morning, but did end up wearing one piece of the rest of the day -- I'm sure men can guess which one).
Derrick and I competed at the same time, so I didn't see him compete, and none of the rest of the family saw me compete close up. I think we may have been in two of the largest divisions, and certainly were at the most attended time slot.
My ring started with two divisions, Men 30-39 Green-Brown belts and Men 40-up Green-Brown belts -- in other words, all of the men over 30 who were allowed to spar. We were quickly divided by age into 30-39, 40-49 and 50-up; and then by belt level. Finally, the brown belts 40-49 were divided by size. I ended up in a group of 4, along with one other Bartlett student (who I've probably partnered with in at least half of my classes, and a couple of exams). In the draw, we ended up each facing one of the competitors from another school. I lost my bout 5-2, but was close to hitting a couple of other times. If I'd been either a tad faster, or blocked a tad better, I probably would have scored again, and possibly won. The other Bartlett student also lost his bout.
After sparring, we were regrouped by belt level for form and self-defense. On form, I went fourth out of six, and continued the trend of hesitating or completely forgetting the form at one point, and ended up as a finalist (I'm guessing I was fourth or fifth, but didn't try to peek at the sheets and calculate it myself). I did a bit better in self defense, coming in third out of three, but I don't think I did that much worse than the other two.
Derrick, on the other hand, did not do all that well. My in-laws had finally made it to a tournament, and that may have distracted him. He's also been having more problems with his ability to actually do work at school the last couple of weeks, and may be in a down period overall. Tara says that he wasn't being very aggressive when sparring (to which he started making lame excuses), and he was very sloppy in his form and self defense. I caught up with them just before they were awarded their placing for self-defense, and afterwards he was acting in an almost unsportsmanlike manner about his three finalists results. As it was already past time for the next set of rounds to start, I ended up excusing myself without really saying "Good Bye," and went to see if I was needed.
I wasn't needed to judge, but did end up filling in as the scorekeeper for a division that was running even later -- 14- and 15-year-old Brown Belt men doing self defense. For the first three competitors, I had to both read the scores off of the judges flip-charts, and record them. I found out that my voice hadn't quite recovered from my competing. (I nearly lost my voice due to, I think allergies, a week ago Wednesday, and it hasn't fully recovered yet anyway). Fortunately, someone who was supposed to be working that ring showed up and was able to read the scores for me (which also made it much easier to write them down quickly).
After that, the ring shut down, and I went back to find if I was needed for the next session, which was the Black Belts. I was assigned initially to an overflow ring (which I noticed was where most of the Black Belt divisions actually were scheduled to compete, as a scorekeeper. However, things were running late -- caused I'm very sure by the large number of competitors at 1:45 -- so none of the Black Belt divisions were ready to start. This turned out to be a good thing, because one other important division, the Black Belt Candidate self defense was also scheduled and had no judges, or scorekeepers. First, our judges were taken to do that division, and then a few minutes later, the two scorekeepers were taken.
For the last couple of tournaments, this was a division I had really wanted to see. But, because we didn't want to wait around for over an hour before it, we ended up leaving. So, I didn't mind. On top of this, I think I knew more than a quarter of the competitors, so clearly Bartlett has more than its share of Black Belt candidates for the June exam. At first, I started adding the scores after recording them, but stopped when I realized that I had completely missed the defenses by one of the kids I know pretty well. In the end, this division, which was the largest I'd dealt with all day -- and the only one that had a large mix of both age and gender -- was also probably the closest. The winner -- who is a Bartlett student and whose husband I've partnered with more than a few times -- won by only 1/100th of a point the narrowest possible margin short of numerical tie. Third went to a competitor a bit further down, and their was a decent break before the large pool of finalists.
After that, I confirmed that I was not needed and headed home, showered and changed into regular clothes.
We had planned on going to a restaurant that gets a lot of people from the tournament most of the time -- on account of the very good coupons given at the tournaments, and the fact that it is co-owned by one of our black belts, who worked today as one of the tournament coordinators. However, Tara hadn't gotten the coupon, when we arrived there weren't many people from National Karate there yet (at least nobody waiting that I recognized and no cars with window stickers in the parking lot), and I was too hungry and Derrick too tired and cranky to wait 30 minutes for dinner. After Derrick started getting even crankier in the parking lot, I was heading home when Tara suggested that we stop at the Denny's on the way. Unfortunately, I got a meal that tasted good, but didn't feel so good afterwards.
All in all, this wasn't a bad day. Not getting the somewhat special dinner I'd hoped for, and having to deal with a cranky and unsportsmanlike kid, were the only disapointments.