|What a mistake this turned out to be.|
To get to the point first, I placed roughly in the middle on forms, and got crushed (again) in sparring. When the finger-pointing began, I had a direct target that I used rather than myself, who should have been the sole receptor of my frustration.
We don't spar in class. For better or worse, that's the hand we've been dealt. Since we started BBC in late December, I've sparred a grand total of around 6 rounds, almost all with the same person (kinda have to--we're the only males in our class). Two of those came after Nationals, so going to "the big show" I had only free-sparred, in a ring, four times (not counting the disaster at Mesa). Even in the days leading up to the tournament, we kept doing drills in class--which are nice, but don't give you any experience in a real match. Even with all of this, I felt pretty confident going to Vegas.
Circus Circus, for those of you that may go to Vegas in the future, is kind of a pit. Yes, it has entertainment for the monkies, but for the price we paid for it I expected a lot more. Especially when we looked at some of the other hotels while we were sight-seeing. We also weren't very well-versed in the ways of Vegas, and didn't know that we could take our car and park at pretty much any hotel. Would have saved a lot of walking and stress, plus we would have seen a lot more.
We were late registering, and I almost choked when they gave me the total for the four of us to enter: $225.
The venue was simply awesome. HUGE area with plenty of walking room, in comparison to the other tournaments we've been to. Tons of room to practice, which SW and I took advantage of since we had just learned CJ1 and hadn't really practiced it much. After going through it around 20 times, we felt ready to go.
I was very impressed with the way that the judges ran the Tiny Tigers rings--quickly enough for us to watch and run back over to watch Princess. As expected, the competition was a lot tougher than it had been at the Regional tournaments. Princess got a little scared at the very-much-increased intensity and excessive force and lost her first match 5-4. She ended up tying for third in forms and won the three-way tiebreaker, so we, as a family, won something.
I went next--late in the afternoon. There were 18 colored belts in our camo-green ring, with one purple belt. I did my form as well as I could, and got scored appropriately. There were a few guys that were simply amazing--like 2nd degree amazing, and they rightfully won. When we sparred, some had clearly had great sparring training, a few had not. The other guy in my class went first and destroyed the guy he went against. We usually go half and half as far as victories against each other, so my confidence went up a bit.
I faced off against a guy that was about 4 inches shorter and 40 pounds lighter than I. Before we started I immediately thought that it would be easy to get a head shot on him. I went defensive, not agressive as I was at Mesa, and eventually shot a kick out.
Before my leg had moved 6 inches, he was gone. This guy was so fast that I couldn't get close to him--and when I did, he easily moved out of the way and punched me in the chest. I lost, again, 5-0. The guy I went against went on to take 3rd. My buddy got crushed in his second match, with the guy that beat him going on to take 2nd.
Two tournaments in competition sparring, and I have yet to score a point.
SW did better--she did about the same as I did on her form, even with missing her kihaps, and won her first sparring match. Her second match she went against a girl twice her size, who would just chamber and hold it. When SW would try to knock her over it was like running into a wall. Time ran out, with her down 4-3.
A few things bothered me about the whole experience.
First, our instructors were all there. The school owner was (presumably) judging somewhere else, Ms. C was competing in her ring, but our Chief Instructor was nowhere to be found. All of his adult students competed at the same time--I would have made it a major priority to be there, if for no other reason than to see how my instruction fared against everyone else.
Second, once again, there was not a "half-belt" in sight, kid or adult, other than those at our school. Out of the 18 in our ring, we were two of four that were not in leadership, and the only two with the ridiculous red vinyl sparring gear. Looks aren't important to me--the added ability in the sleeker black gear is.
Third, a brown belt from another school was asking me about our school while I was watching SW. He saw me fight, and was asking how our sparring classes ran. Not sparring in class, but our sparring classes. He was shocked when I told him that we just don't do that where we're from. He was also shocked when he found out that none of our adult students were in leadership.
All in all, it was an eye-opening and demoralizing experience for me, a lot like Mesa. After I left, I pledged that unless our training drastically changes (it hasn't) to work more on sparring, that I was done woth tournaments. I've kept true to that by skipping the last tournament in Chandler. From what I was told, the judging there was just like Mesa--with a three-way tie in sparring, and all three getting medals.
The region is weird. I'm ready to move on to another school and another region. If we were staying here for longer than we are, I would be having serious doubts of continuing in our current school--the only thing that would keep me around is that fact that all the ATA's in our city are run by the same guy, so presumably it's the same across the board.