Just when I thought there was nothing left to surprise me about tournament competition, along came a trip to New Jersey, where the United Martial Arts Referee Association is based. Yesterday in Mount Laurel was the first tournament competition for my better half, after spending two road trips being the keeper of the camera while nursing a torn meniscus. She came home with two silver medals, though one should have been gold (and yes, I know I’m biased).
We were the only “elderly” women in the room, and initially thought that as the only members of the oldest competitor age group, we’d simply be competing with each other. We thought wrong. It turns out that in New Jersey, black sashes and belts only compete against each other; the “advanced” category is composed of solely of brown and red. So both Merle and I were competing against much younger folks who matched our sash color – and still we both lost the gold by two-tenths of a point or less. Not too shabby for a couple of old girls in a room full of competitors and judges who all knew each other. Additionally, we seemed to be the only ones in the room doing the Northern Shaolin style of a Chinese martial art.
I had the whiplash-producing experience of competing in the “open” weapons division. At this particular tournament, that meant the event contained all ages, all styles and both genders all up against each other with radically different weapons and forms. Everyone over thirty-five got creamed in points by a twenty-two-year-old guy who pretty much seemed to fly.
The biggest surprise of my day was tying my all-time high score not with a weapons form but with the killer open hands form of Lian Huan Tui! That surprise alone was worth the entry fee. Gym training is definitely paying off.