Rockstar had 3 fights that day, elimination style, as opposed to round robin (so you only progress if you win each round). Despite leaving really early, we make it literally on the dot and I run up to the counter feeling disoriented because pretty much everything is in Chinese except Rockstar's English name in the fight schedule 😀 First time I hurry up, the people manning the counter stare at me like I have two heads.
"It's not his turn yet." Um, we-literally-just-got-here-on-the-dot-at-his-designated-match -time-I-missed-your-earlier-announcements. And I can't read Chinese. (Note to everyone: If you ever find yourself in this situation, say that first. Because then a light bulb goes on and the people you are speaking to stop thinking you are just mad. Also, everyone will otherwise assume you can understand the rapid-fire fully-Cantonese announcements and schedules that seem to just fly about.)
"We will make an announcement in English." (Throughout the tournament it will be at the back of my mind that the only thing I ever seem to hear said in English over the PA is "Rockstar please report to counter" 😀 😀 😀 )
So Rockstar and (later his friends and teammates in various other categories) wait to get in the ring for their fights...
I remember when they used to do it with pen and paper and tally it all up. Nowadays it's on the computer, the score is on the screen for all to see, and there's this little beeping sound when someone earns a point.
Same difference 😛 All I can see is Michelin-Man-dressed-Rockstar dancing about with another similarly-garbed child while I'm trying to take a picture or video of something, and by the time I move to see the screen, the score is... .
We're kicking about in a corner when suddenly we get paged, a good 4 fights early thereabouts (like, fortunately he didn't have to go to the bathroom, necessitating taking all the gear off and then having to crazy-rush it back on ok...!) Frantically I look around for his match coach, texting while steering Rockstar to the waiting bench where other little fighters are already seated, meantime. At our rapid English chatter, 2 or 3 cute little-faces-overwhelmed-by-headgear-like-my-child's look up wordlessly in surprise.
Rockstar enters his second fight not quite at leisure as in his first one. Ditto yours truly as I'm now the one dancing around to get a picture or video like some crazy tourist. (Waitaminit I am a crazy tourist :D)
And yeah, you're gonna have to take my word for it this one ended, if I recall correctly, 21-8 favouring Rockstar.
There appears to be a delay for the final. Meantime, I'm reminded to change the colour on Rockstar's chest plate and he chirps, "Blue! Finally!"
It's over so quickly I don't get a picture. It would appear that at a score of 21-1, a walkover was called. If so, in the event it also spares the losing child's feelings by not taking a drubbing that might run say, to 51-1 or something, I think it's not that bad an idea. I've watched Rockstar train, often. I've held his kicking target, and at 20 kilos and 7.5 years - I only started my own 8 years of training aged 9 - Rockstar can kick like a pint-sized donkey.
I have never seen my child so comprehensively beaten. His opponent is in a completely different class. (Only when he took off all the protective gear did I later realise just how small the other boy was.) In the event final, Rockstar takes blow after blow to his chest plate, and when his opponent stops - just waiting the time out, having racked up a satisfactory lead (don't get me started on them knowing how to do that) - Rockstar doesn't fight back.
"Come on, Awesome Boy. Try." I don't care if everyone thinks I'm Crazy Crackpot Tourist Mum. He doesn't move, and they call it. I prickle a little, when I see the subtlest Smart-ss Shrug and a mouthed Wha -?
First out of the ring:
Rockstar: Wha- was that? <another annoying shrug>
Me: I think they called it early because your opponent racked up too big a lead on you. You weren't trying. Were you scared?
Rockstar: I went in very relaxed. Cos I know I already get something. And then this guy started kicking and I thought 'Ok, this guy is just crazy good. I'm outta here.'
Me: I knew it! You didn't even fight back!!
Rockstar: Cos I know I got something already. I wanted at least a silver. I got a silver <shrugs>.
Me: I would be happier if you didn't get anything but you tried your best rather than if you didn't try and got a silver!!
Rockstar: Oh. Huh. I'd be happier if I got the silver.
(And Rockstar tells me when he told this to one of his teachers, she laughed and said, "Uh, you know gold is better than silver, right?" :D)
Rockstar does however refuse to move until he collects his nonetheless-hard-earned silver. "But I didn't dare say anything else, you looked pretty mad," he would remark later, about our time sitting there waiting wordlessly for him to get his medal.
Ah bu- then?Notice anything? Yes - Rockstar was in the under-8 years, 20kg category and that is a kid with a junior black belt who might actually be even a little smaller than him.
In fact, that I remember Rockstar was the most junior belt in all his fights; his first two opponents were one belt grade above him and the boy who gave him such a drubbing...... yes, a junior black belt. (Like, how old are these kids when they start training?!) In conversations with another local team mate's mum, there were kids from all over Hong Kong competing, and some were really scary good fighters who must've trained very, very hard. Her own child got repeatedly kicked in the head(guard) over and over by a significantly shorter child.
As for Rockstar's own defeat - If my child is going to learn from a drubbing, this boy was the best opponent he could've had. Think about it - what happens to your child's outlook if he is hammered in a martial arts competition by another child who is undisciplined or simply plain aggressive? It's oxymoronic. Instead, the boy who thoroughly beat Rockstar fought real clean. It is the best possible lesson I could hope for, for Rockstar. You can serve up a drubbing without resorting to anything less than full discipline and a clean fight.
In fact, I don't think I saw anyone in competition not follow the referees to the tee. Even the ones that were visibly upset they were losing. (And btw Rockstar says he saw one little girl clutching a teddy bear she kept in her bag, in between her fights.) They're still little kids, in the process of learning more than just the sport.
As for my little problem with Rockstar effectively giving walkover without trying... Dude.(How disturbing is it that I knew to google The Ultimate Warrior?)
Rockstar's team mate is on next. I recognise her opponent as one of the wide-eyed little kids looking at us in surprise as Rockstar and I bustled over for weigh-in, gabbling away in English. When she's in the ring however, she's a fierce competitor - Rockstar's friend tries valiantly, eventually losing respectably. Despite having been super keen to compete, Rockstar's friend leaves the auditorium after being knocked out in the first round, taking the loss in her stride. Her mum would tell me later her daughter was watching her fights and others' that evening, keen to compete again. (Ditto Rockstar. I suppose I should be relieved. Kind of.)
Therein lies another big lesson for our kids: How to lose. A measure of a person is how you bounce back. Besides, we don't really want them to win absolutely everything easily at this young age do we, we want them to get a little "loser practice" in, to learn from their mistakes, at a time when mistakes cost relatively "less"... How to handle a loss is something even us grownups struggle with (look at what happens in World Cups and Tour de Frances et al). When you cannot take losing is when you lose yourself.
There is a moment even after the dye is cast, before it hits the canvas. "Breathe right and you can change the way the painting looks."
(That was me having the last word in the I Already Got The Silver Walkover Incident :P)