Got back from Rhode Island fairly late on Sunday night. Actually tried to get home earlier, even shuffling my flight times around to attempt to arrive home by 9:00 (instead of at nearly midnight) but was largely thwarted by a weather-related delay (2.5 hours at JFK, sitting on the plane, waiting for takeoff...). At least I got to hang out with Christine for an hour or so, instead of her already being asleed by the time I got in. Worth the trouble.
Anyway, the tournament was amazing. No other word for it. I hung out and talked martial arts with dozens of spectacularly gifted and experienced men and women from around the country, participated in terrific training sessions with Kwan Jhang Nim Ferraro and other luminaries within our organization, met people I'd exchanged e-mail with over the past two years face to face and established lots of new friendships and rekindled or deepened a couple of older ones. Really, it was a remarkable experience.
Oh, and I got this:
First place in sparring for my division, a combined group due to attendance -- senior men, 35 or older, all weight classes. So I was sparring older men (at 39 I was the second youngest competitor in my class), but thinner and faster ones as well (I was the second biggest guy there, with one other competitor -- my buddy from New Braunfels, John -- who's built sort of like a Sherman tank -- shorter, thicker, heavier, and a slugger). I'm pretty quick with my hands, and my kicks aren't too shabby, but at 220+ I don't typically move around the ring in a way that would be described as "sprightly." Still, I stuck it out, took it one point at atime, and came out on top. This was crazy gratifying.
Also nabbed second place in forms -- no picture of that one just yet. My Chil Sung Il Rho was really nice, but for some reason the judges really liked the Pyanh Ahn Sa Dan one of the other guys did and I lost to him by .1 or so. I spoke with one of the judges later, at the bar, simply because I want to know what the heck I'm doing wrong that I can 't seem to win with this form, and I was told that my form was "terrific," my stances were "beautiful," and that they had "no idea" why the other judges didn't score me higher (this judge had given me my highest score, but the high score and the low score are chucked while the remaining scores are averaged for the final score).
I'm not really pissed off about it -- I think there might ave been a bit of a "familiarity factor" at work, as the winner was from the Northeast while 2nd and 3rd were from Texas -- but regardless, I managed to place with my form, got a second trophy that is quite lovely, and I know I really put on a good performance of the form. I'm going to have one more opportunity to compete with it before I advance to 3rd gup (at Master Nunan's tournie in September, a couple of weeks before I test), so we'll see if I can manage to nab first with it before I retire it from competition.
Honestly, though, the trophies aren't the best thing about the weekend. I mean, they're nice and all that, but the best thing I took home was the overall experience of spending days talking with so many other martial artists, of sitting around having drinks and chatting with people for a few minutes and then finding out that they're 6th dans. I finally really understand that the only difference between me and so many of these folks (aside from varying degrees of natural talent, of course -- some folks are just more capable that others, and there's not much that we can do about that except work a bit harder to try to level the playing field...) is that they've been doing it longer. This really helped dispel some of the "rockstar-itis" I sometimes get about high-ranking martial artists. Master Nunan always says that a Dan (or Sa Bom, for that matter) is just a white belt that never gave up. This has never been more apparent to me than now.
As a result, by the time I got to compete I was more relaxed and at ease than I've ever been in a competition, and it really helped. One friend of mine who attended, Mr. Delanela, even mentioned last night that he'd never seen me relax and have such fun when sparring before, either in competition or in the dojang. And it was true -- instead of being nervous (well, I had a couple of butterflies, but still...) I was excited to get in there and see what happened.
It was a blast. Can't wait 'til September!
So, Christine and the kids are now in North Carolina, and I'm on my own. Not a big deal yet, really -- it's only been a day, and I had errands and stuff to do all day yesterday, followed by training and catching up on the Big Brother 8 and Top Chef episodes I missed while out of town. Plus I have a second interview with a tech company for a really interesting position today -- the phone interview went incredibly well, and today I meet with several members of the development team face to face.
Not really all that nervous, though. I mean, again, yes, some butterflies -- I always get edgy meeting new people face to face for the first time -- but I'm fairly certain it will go well, as I have been doing precisely the job they are looking to fill for the past 7 years. Smaller company, privately help, with some very interesting technology that I'd really like to get my fingers into and get to know. I know I can do the job, and do it better than most folks these guys are likely to even meet, so I figure that as long as I just go in and don't puke of a desk or anything I can land this thing and end this brief jobless affair quickly and succinctly.
Mood: Tired, mildly anxious
Now Playing: Liz Phair, "Whitechocolatespaceegg"