By Jessica and Stefano
On July 9, the Belgian championships took place. For Jessica (4th kyu) and Stefano (6 kyu), it was the first time.
The day was divided into several phases. There was a learning part: how to set up a shiai-jo, place the chairs, respect the protocol, learn the codes of the refereeing tables,… It was also an opportunity to try new things like using a drone to film the fights (Spoiler alert: Don’t do that ! Obviously this one fell on a shinpan in the middle of a fight!). Then came the technical competition with a partner drawn at random. To finish, the combat part.
“There was a special atmosphere in the room. First of all, it was hot. But it was mostly in the attitude of the people. We started by preparing the room, the floor,…
Then we started the competition. There was a tension in the air. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how it was going to happen. I was stressed, it was quite solemn. I wanted my partner to be happy with our performance. I didn’t always dare to look at the flags, but in the end…we did it well! When it was our turn, I felt good, despite the discipline that is not always present in the class. The pressure of that first competition was high.”
“I’ve never competed in my life, so when I signed up I was quite curious to experience the stakes of a competition. It was really rewarding and fun. Especially to be able to meet the other members of the federation with whom I don’t train.
Of course, it was an opportunity to measure myself against others, but it was in a supportive and caring environment. I wasn’t scared, just a little bit of stress when I was told “come on, it’s starting” but I told myself that you weren’t going to eat me and once I was in, it was great. »
After the technical part, it was time to put on the armour. This last part was organised so that everyone could do a lot of fighting and meet as many people as possible. Putting on the armour is not always an easy exercise, but with the excitement of the competition it seems light as a feather.
“Fighting took me back years ago. Twenty years ago, I was competing in judo and other sports. Here, we had the chance to do a lot of fights, I fought with all my strength…I didn’t manage to get a point, but I was very happy with what I did, that makes me proud. I wasn’t stressed at all, I was well prepared with the fights we do in class. I still don’t understand why the points are not validated, but that will come. I also loved the conviviality of the meals, the fact of living new experiences. This competition was really a great experience, it gave me a lot of energy for days.
“Refereed fights are very different from actual fights. It’s very fast! Sometimes I felt like it was over in 30 seconds. There was a little taste of too little, but when I put a point and it was awarded, then really, I was very proud! I really feel like I’ve achieved something!
In the evening I told my whole family about it, I was so excited. It was quite a validation for me, even more than when I passed a grade. It put my practice, the classes, in perspective.
Watching the more advanced fighters was great. I learned a lot and above all, it’s really impressive. It makes me want to continue learning even more. »
The European Championships are coming up fast. How did you feel at your first competition? How about now? Do you still have a gut feeling, the excitement running through your body?
Here we are all looking forward to meeting you and sharing these new experiences.