I always tell my martial arts students that a tournament only represents how you performed that day, at that time, in front of a set of judges, in a division with a set of people. In other words, you can almost never predict how you’ll be scored by the judges.
After coming up short at the 20th annual North American Grand Nationals last week, two of us placed in four different divisions at Morrow’s 39th semi-annual tournament in Davenport at St. Ambrose University.
I’m very proud of Faith Robertson’s 3rd-place victory in her division with green and blue belts. I judged her division last week, but got to watch her as a spectator. I could tell she’s been fine-turning her performance, and I’m looking forward to seeing how she does in the future. She received what I always consider to be the best compliment you can get at a martial arts tournament: a judge from her division came up to her at the end of the day, gave her some tips about how to improve, and told her she thought Faith should have won first place.
I placed first in three black belt divisions – forms, sparring and…horse-riding stance.
That’s right – horse-riding stance. Mr. Morrow is the only person I know to have a horse-riding stance competition at his tournament. The goal is simple. Sink into a horse stance so that your legs are parallel to the ground and can balance a bo. When your legs give out, the bo falls. The last person to remain in the stance wins. After what was probably about 2 minutes, I managed to outlast five others.
My forms division was tough.
One competitor was in his first black belt division after being promoted earlier this spring. I know it’s recent because I worked with him at a seminar in February and he was still a brown belt.
Another pair of competitors were a husband-and-wife combo, who I first noticed at this event last year for their internal martial arts. While I’ve been trained for most of my martial arts career in the hard style of karate, seeing a Chinese style such as tai chi chuan in this type of environment is great.
The other competitor was a karate stylist who, I discovered after talking to later, seemed to be a Japanese or Okinawan stylist. We talked for a bit, and I could tell he respected Shuri-ryu.
My sparring division was even tougher. I don’t often spar in tournaments since my emphasis is typically on kata. But, after five years of coming to this tournament, I thought it was finally time I strap on the gear.
One competitor drew blood in the first match, cutting his opponent right under the eye. These accidents happen. He lost the match, and I assume left the building. He didn’t even stick around to watch the rest of the matches. I can only suspect why he left, so I can’t say with certainty what happened. If he left because he was upset about not winning the match, I hope that in the future, he represents himself and his school in a better manner.
I defeated two competitors, including the fresh black belt I mentioned earlier, as well as the brown belt who received the cut. (Due to lack of competitors in his division, or his age – I’m not exactly sure – this individual was placed with the black belts.)
Fasting to End Hunger
Every year in time for his tournament, Mr. Morrow fasts. He does this for a number of reasons: to show discipline, to demonstrate the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, and to show that the martial arts can help you persevere. But mostly, Mr. Morrow was doing this as a means to eradicate world hunger. He says of the 7 billion people in this world, so many are obese and so many go hungry. “Let’s balance that out,” he told the crowd.
Mr. Morrow, 61, then proceeded to do 130 pushups on the backs of his hands in 60 seconds, unofficially breaking his Guinness World Record of 123. An article that appears to be from 2006 discusses this feat.
Overall, this is a great martial arts tournament to attend. Quick divisions. Fair judges. Great competitors.