Most people think that competing in a tournament is something that they would never do. I never thought I could do it. But there is nothing like the nervousness when you see your name up on the board, or the jelly that your legs become when you step onto the mat with someone wanting to crush you on the other side or the blood rushing out of your head when the referee yells, "HAJIME!". There is a bit of tranquility when all you can hear is your heart pounding in your chest, the feeling of your opponent grabbing you and instant sweat that starts pouring from your face. There is no other way to put yourself and your skills to the test.
Due to all the craziness of my husband's schedule and the kids' end of year schedule (piano lessons, tap dancing, choir, judo tournaments), I had to bow out of one of the biggest tournaments of the judo year -- the Senior Nationals. But family comes first, and judo teaches you a lot about balance and patience. There is always next year. There is always another tournament. So I opted to head on over to the Indiana State Championships this year and had a blast. I got to see my Sensei fight a hard FIVE matches. I even saw him thrown. I got to hear one of my mentors coach my sensei on the sidelines which was worth its weight in gold --- "being a coach is just like being a cheerleader. You can't tell them exactly what to do... just small changes, little things that encourage them."
I don't require my students to compete -- it's something that they must want to do... not what I make them do. I do it, because sometimes I need to test myself. It's not for everyone. I lost my first match, but came back and won the next two. It felt good to feel the rush... still looking for that iippon.