Not long ago (October 22), I competed in my second TKD tournament, the 2011 TTF Champions Tournament, organized by a local Dayton-area school, Total Taekwondo and Fitness.  This time, I finally placed in forms, taking 2nd, and also won 1st place in Olympic Sparring.  This tournament was special to me for a couple of reasons.  First-my results were better this time around than they were back in the spring at the Ahn Classic (I didn’t place in forms and took 2nd place in Olympic Sparring).  Second-I felt like this was a “home game” because it was held basically in my backyard, and one of my sons (the 5 year old) was able to come watch this time.  Third-my performance this time is a special source of pride because I did it while mildly injured.  I wasn’t sure I would even be able to compete this time around, because I’d pulled my hamstring a couple of days before doing drills.  Both hamstrings were sore when moved and painful to the touch even up to the morning of the tournament!  That morning, I decided to feel it out–I’d go down to the arena, do some extra stretching and warm up, and see how the hammys felt after this.  If I was unable to get a decent height on my kicks, I’d either withdraw from the tournament, or go ahead and spar and simply focus on defense, understanding that I’d probably lose pretty badly.  Needless to say, things worked out–I was able to get some decent flexibility, and performed at about 85-90%.

There were a couple of things I learned about myself as a fighter this time around.

1) I’m a natural “late-round fighter,” because one of my biggest assets is conditioning.  There’s hardly anyone out there who’s going to be able to out-condition me in the ring.  My aerobic capacity, stamina, and general endurance is my biggest advantage, and in the fights I’ve had so far, I’ve tended to do better toward the end of the match, when conditioning becomes an issue.  I’ve never felt out of gas in the ring once so far.  I made a conscious decision to emphasize conditioning first and foremost when I started training for Taekwondo sparring competition.  I run 3-4 miles per day, and do full-body weight training three times per week, in addition to time for training technique and combination drills on the heavy bag as well as time in class. Basically I live at the gym.  If I’m not at home or the office, I’m generally there.  It pays off.

2) I still have a tendency to get stuck into one technique at a time.  I look for openings then throw single kicks, rather than following up with combinations.  This is something I have to continue to work on.  Fof the next few months I’m going to stick to drilling only combinations rather than single kicks–hopefully this will help it to feel more natural to launch combinations.  It’s not that I never throw combinations in competition, but I tend not to do it very often.

All in all, it was another great experience, and I’ll be competing again soon enough.  Next up on the schedule is the Ahn Classic in the spring, followed by the Battle of Columbus at the end of May, in which I’ll be competing in sparring, and my wife will be competing alongside me in synchronized forms.  Can’t wait!  And now back to training….