"I'm a karate man, see! And a karate man bruises on the inside!"
i couldn't look.
after our last karate tournament disaster, the prospect of another trauma was too much to contemplate.
so as my son began his kata routine, i cleverly looked on from behind the bleachers.
rewind: our children participated in a karate tournament in portland last weekend. it was their first since an ill-fated tournament in victoria, bc -- and for good reason. competition is one thing...masochism is something else entirely.
in canada, one child did well, the other had a come-apart. not his fault, really. the pool-related concussion may have been a factor. nevertheless, looking ahead to portland we were ambivalent. hesitant. angst-ridden. but after much training (theirs) and considerable compartmentalizing (ours), we geeked up for another go.
our pregame left nothing to chance. the drive down was uneventful, but there was a scary moment checking into the hotel. the boy wears heelies as a major mode of transportation, and nearly totalled himself in the lobby. he walked in stocking feet to the room.
the obligatory trip to the pool was prefaced with unambiguous warnings and open threats. another concussion would be considered grounds for abandonment. running was a capital offense. actually touching the water was a game-time decision.
eerily, nothing bad occurred.
later, we went to dinner with a bunch of families from the dojo. the adults drank. the children, after ignoring the real food, ate ice cream. excellent training regimen. we returned to the hotel and yelled at the children to go to sleep.
after a long, nonrestful night, we awoke late. too late to enjoy breakfast, given that the service in the hotel restaurant was slow. no, that's not fair to slow people. service was nonexistent. we ended up taking everything to go. tip was not generous.
we approached the the tournament venue with fear and loathing. surely mt. hood would erupt and the columbia river would boil, flooding us with poached salmon. these things, we felt, would be preferable to entering the gym.
the children insisted.
where's my mouthguard? where's my chest protector? where's my fist pads? where's my group? children expect answers to these questions. parents who don't have a long history with karate tournaments are slow to provide answers.
eventually, inevitably, inexorably, the time for the boy to perform his kata drew nigh. beneath the stands, i sweated and became nauseated. the girl, meanwhile, commenced sparring. she is always the smallest girl in the ring, with the least fear. she swings from her heels and occasionally scores a point. she won a bronze medal.
the boy entered the ring. previously he had decided to do teno kata, because he knew it the best. instead he launched into heian nidan...and nailed it. where he was confident, i was breathless. where he was precise, i was still nauseated. at the end, he suppressed a smile. i suppressed a sob.
karate parents bleed on the inside. it's a good thing, too. the mess would've been epic.