Sunday, April 29, 2007

kansas city in perspective

i think it's a fact of humanity that people will always be combative. there's always going to be competition, and people are always going to be against each other, not with each other. at least we do it in an organized and civil way that allows us to vent those carnal needs to fight by doing taekwondo. but in the end you still see the dark side of humanity, the ugly side of the sport.

kansas city was great. i think it was a breakthrough for me. or at least, the first visible quantifiable improvement in a series of slow improvements in my taekwondo game. i won my first round match against a young fighter from peak performance - coached by juan moreno. it definitely helps not to know who somebody is if their name is well known, because if i had known the opposing coach was juan moreno, i probably would have given dana willoughby too much respect. but i lost my second match (the first time i've ever been point gapped, 7-0) to someone i don't know still to this day, jesse kuhns. but he's much more experienced, and i found that experience trumps strength/height/youth/energy/talent most of the time. and in his case i think better thinking, knowledge of fighting style, and more flexibility on both me and my coach's parts would have helped.

but back to the dark side of taekwondo. no matter how happy you are coming out of a tournament, or how great a sport promotes sportsmanship and camaraderie, people will always be combative. people will always choose sides and mark things and "us vs them". i guess it's human nature to seek out those who are most similar to you and to alienate others. it's also human nature to keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

the most obvious and shallow example of this is simply the amazing fight between marissa panzarella and brandy from gforce. it was literally a fight - two accidental face punches led to two on-purpose face punches and close to an all out brawl where all the referees from the ring and adjoining rings had to swarm around the players to separate them. i think that was the biggest breakdown of sportsmanship i've ever seen...but also the greatest demonstration of the passion people feel in taekwondo.

but the less obvious example of mankind's imperfections - factions, politics, alignments, and power struggles in taekwondo itself. i mean, it's a sport, created to entertain and occupy people who would otherwise may or may not be so special in this world. yet still it's easy for a group to become elitist, or for some fighters to favor others, or for people to have really nasty thoughts about other people and talk about them behind their backs, etc.

and the more competitions i go to, the smaller this world gets, and as you slowly get to know the names of everybody, you slowly realize that it's inevitable to start forming alliances, and that your friends may separately form alliances that are contrary to yours. and you might wonder how it will all end up.

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