Home > Challenges, Childhood, Judo, Kata, Learning, Promotions > On Competition and Promotions

On Competition and Promotions

Recently, I was working with one of my clubmates on the Kata set she needs for her next promotion. I mentioned before that it was pretty rough for me. Two of the five sets I’ve had almost no experience with, and while I went to Kata class regularly last summer, I didn’t go at all during the school year. After we went through the sets, my coach commented that it was good I was getting the Kata practice in since I’ll be up for my brown belt in the fall. I didn’t really offer much of a response at the time since my brain was slightly broken, but later on I kind of freaked out about it.

It’s funny to me that the thought of getting my brown belt is intimidating because my reaction is totally hypocritical.  There are a few other green belts at my club, but they have been green belts forever and are completely ready for their brown belt (in my opinion, at least). Our club has a Kata requirement for promotions for brown belt and above and it’s up to you to put the work in if you really want your promotion. These guys are totally dragging their feet to meet the Kata requirement. They are not excited to get their brown belts. Why? The expectation bar that gets raised as you move from “novice” to “advanced”.  The pressure! (Also, some people just really do not want to learn Kata, but that’s a whole other post.)

I’ve officially been a green belt since December 2010. Last summer before I got my green belt, but knew it was on its way, I thought it was possible that I could be a brown belt within a year of getting my green.  I also thought I was going to still train a ton and compete all of the time during the school year. Ha. The reality of grad school combined with a few stupid injuries in the fall and winter crushed that idea. So since the fall, I’ve only competed four times. My first tournament, I fought one match, which I lost, and then had to pull out of the tournament because I injured my shoulder blade and had to go to the hospital. My second tournament, there were no novice girls for me to fight, so I fought against a third-degree brown belt. I lost two and surprisingly won one match. I fought her again under the same circumstances in May and lost all my matches to her. In March, I had my only tournament where I fought all my matches against novice girls. I lost two and won one, which I was OK with since I had barely been training leading up to the tournament.

The point that I’m trying to reach is that I barely have any experience competing at my current level. To me, competition is the best way to see where you stand in your practice.  When you’re training, you often work with the same people over and over again. You get to know their style and technique and they get to know yours. You don’t often surprise each other. Also, for women judoka, it can be hard if you don’t have other women to train with. Don’t get me wrong; the men at my club are great training partners and I learn so much from them. But women and men move very differently and have different strengths and weaknesses. I do have other women to work with, but there are only a handful of us and we know each other’s games pretty well by now.  So the best way for me to test my progress is to compete against people whose style and technique are completely unfamiliar to me. That way I can see how well I can work my game and how I problem-solve in a new situations. But I feel like I haven’t been able to test myself nearly enough in this respect. The thought of moving from green to brown without much competition experience at my own level seems like a bad move for me.

I trust my coach’s judgment, but I still have a fear of wearing a belt that I can’t live up to. There is so much to learn in judo, and since I’m not exactly a natural, I really have to put in the work just to scrape by.  I know that I want to keep advancing in judo and when I feel more prepared, I know that I would be excited to test for my brown belt. I remember when I was kid and my dad got promoted to brown. I was just so impressed and completely in awe of him. I realized that my dad was really committed to judo; that he was going to keep moving forward and that his hard work was starting to pay off. For me, brown seemed a million miles away and I wondered when I would get that level.

I know that my two biggest fears are snakes and failure. I can’t believe that I’m considering adding “brown belt” to that list.

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  1. August 10, 2011 at 16:10

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