Tournament Preparation: Empty hands; clear head. Clouded heart, ……and cold feet.


Picture c/o WKF Kumite

Last night was our final class before the tournament on Saturday. It’s exciting that so many of us are taking place and that those who aren’t are planning to be there anyway to cheer us on. There was a lot of nervous energy in the air and there were a few fists and feet flying out perhaps harder and faster than intended.

I know what it’s like to hit someone harder than you mean to. It’s probably one feels just as bad, if not worse than the person one just hit! What’s more, ice doesn’t help it a bit! Fortunately I haven’t done it in a while, as my ability to pull my strikes has improved over the last couple of years. We are all trying to develop this skill. Some have more difficulty than others, but to get better at it, we all have to practice, and ultimately, as much preparatory work we do without partners, we have to practise on each other!

I know I need to play my own game and play to my strengths. I know I need to be smarter, faster, and not let past experiences put me off. I know my fear is something I have to master. That said I would be lying if I said that doing practice bouts of kumite within a week of a tournament didn’t worry me at all, and that being hit with excessive force several times in a short bout doesn’t rattle me. There was a little blood, there was a little sweat, but the two were offset by more than a few tears in the hours that followed.

Some poetic catharsis was in order.


Although it’s what I wanted from the start,

And it stirs something deep within my heart,

I want to master it; to win the fight,

But something tells me: “Something isn’t right”.

And though outside me, it’s what I try to hide,

It hurts me way more deeply, deep inside.

I have the speed I need, and good agility,

But one hit reveals my exterior fragility.

The outside wounds, though slowly, still, will heal,

But it doesn’t change the inner pain I feel.

Frustration; injured spirit; loss of pride.

It hurts me way more deeply, deep inside.

In the ring, I can forget my normal life,

But in reality, I am worker; mother; wife.

Though in my head, I know I will be fine,

I train too hard to fall down before the line.

I’m ashamed; embarrassed; wounded; more beside.

It hurts me way more deeply, deep inside.

The fighting spirit makes me feel alive,

Makes me forget that I’m not twenty five!

But what if all the blood, the sweat, the tears,

Is not enough to overcome my fears?

To enter or withdraw? I can’t decide.

It hurts me way more deeply deep inside.

Rachel Sag – 3rd April 2017


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