At the beginning of February, having gotten myself at least a little bit settled into my new residence, I took some time to attend the ATA Spring Nationals tournament at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The ATA is the largest taekwondo organization in the world. My reason for attending was that the daughter of a good friend (Vicky Morris) was going to be competing. I’ve been following Ashleigh’s progress over the last several years, so the opportunity of seeing her compete was compelling.
There were many rings holding matches at the same time in the convention center Hall. Ashleigh’s group (13-14 year olds at the same level) had so many competitors in it that the girls were divided into 3 rings by height. These girls were second and third degree black belts.
The competitors have four types of activities to compete in: Forms, Weapons, Sparring, and Combat. In Forms, the competitor performs a set pattern of moves that shows their control and ability to move smoothly from one stance to another. In Weapons, the competitor performs another routine in a fashion similar to Forms, but which shows their control over a particular weapon. The competitor has a number of choices to work with: a Japanese sword, eskrima sticks, nunchucks, a bo staff, kama knives, sai knives.
In Ashleigh’s ring, there were a couple of girls doing their Weapons exercise with swords, another couple with nunchucks, several with bo staffs, while Ashleigh chose eskrima sticks (the only one in her ring to do so).
The remaining areas of competition, Sparring and Combat, were the ones that Ashleigh is particularly eager in. She’s a fierce competitor. In Sparring, the competitor is using hands and feet to score points on an opponent. In Combat, each competitor uses a cushioned stick, rather like a bat, to score hits on the opponent.
In this bout, Ashleigh is the one with the small red flag attached to her back. The flag helps the judges distinguish between the combatants. Ashleigh tends to be very intense in competition. And she can move very fast.
Ashleigh is a leftie, but she’s worked at wielding her weapon with both hands.
She won a silver medal in Combat in her ring, giving the first place girl quite a run for her win.
One of the pleasures of my adventure to the tournament was meeting Master Tim Plaid (at the right in the photo above). He’s taken a particular interest in Ashleigh’s progress in taekwondo, and Vicky has spoken frequently of him.
After the competitions, Ashleigh changed to street clothes, picked up her medal, and then the four of us went off to a relaxed dinner at Olive Garden.
I enjoyed watching the competitions – although the white noise of the hall with so many yells and chatter gave me a bit of a headache. That might have been also because I had not had much for breakfast and had nothing but a banana (thanks to Vicky) during the day. Some ibuprofen helped cut the headache, though.
All in all, a good day.