Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My $10 Gi!

I bought a new gi at the tournament last weekend - a brand-new, fresh out of the package one for just 10 bucks!

If you've ever shopped online for a karategi, you know that you can find lots of size 000, student weight (seven ounce), white uniforms for that price - but the one I got was a 12oz size five in black - the color used in USA Goju. Usually, the relatively large size and darker color add another $20 to the cost even before shipping, so imagine my happiness when I found the one that would soon be mine on one of the tourney vendor's shelves.

For the longest time, I've trained in 8.5oz gis. I know that heavyweight gis give that amazing "POP!" during kihon and drills, but they end up doubling in weight by the end of class it seems because they soak up so much sweat. Since the 8.5 oz made just enough noise for me, I was perfectly happy until I noticed that my training partners at my new (now year old, LOL) dojo all donned heavy- and even super heavyweight gis. Interested in seeing what all the buzz was about, I saddled up to the Internet one evening with my credit card in hand only to find it wasn't easy to score a heavy-weight gi without a traditional wrap-around drawstring waistband in the pants (I'm kinda partial to elastic waist gi bottoms) - in a black size 5 for less than a small fortune.

Could a $10 gi possibly fit the bill? When I opened the package to try on the pants (because we know that all size 5 gis are not created equal, that's for sure), I found my elastic - and felt like doing a happy dance right in the aisle. Best part was that the pants covered my ankles without making my almost four-feet long legs all but disappear, the jacket fit my shoulders and the sleeve length was comfortable - even though it was stiff and made me walk like a mummy. Heck, even if one sleeve was noticably shorter than the other, I was going to buy it at that point because, well, it was only $10.

My sensei kind of smiled when I told him of my find and showed him my purchase - before mentioning that he'd never heard of that particular brand of uniform and reminding me of the old "you get what you pay for" adage. I only plan on using it to compete and grade in as I will stick to my lighter gis for his brutal two-hour classes. But seriously, if it fell apart after one washing, I think I'd be able to say I got my money's worth, don't you? And did I mention it was only $10?!?

But my gi hunt still may not be over. One of my training partners told me about a new gi by Century designed specifically for women's narrower waists and shoulders. Might have to look into it...

Do you wear a different gi style, type or weight for competitions or gradings than you do for regular class? Are you partial to a particular brand or weight or am I just thinking about this too much?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

On the Road Again: Glitter Sticks and Musical Kata

Saturday, two of my female training partners, my sensei and I headed north to our state capital for a tournament. Billed as attracting martial artists from as far away as Canada and the mid-west, there were about 50 different divisions in everything from synchronized group kata and musical forms to creative board/concrete/brick breaking and about 300 competitors total. Although I traveled with my gear bag and competition headgear (I wear a shield for tournament kumite), the second I walked in, I'd totally changed my mind about jumping into the mix.

The biggest reason was because of the price: $60 for one event and $5 for each additional event. That is kinda close to the norm (usually about $50 in this area for two events), but waaaay steep when you consider that in the advanced (brown and black belt) female 35+ age division, there were probably only going to be a handful of competitors, if that many. So, I decided to stow my gear and watch the happenings.

Most of the competitors were from Tae Kwon Do schools. Not that there is anything wrong with TKD, but I think there were uniforms of every color imaginable in the room! Lots of competition glitter as well, mostly on the bo staffs, nunchakas and kama. The Shotokan (one competitor) and Kung Fu (three competitors) karateka donned more traditional uniforms and weapons is all I'm saying, so no hate mail, please, as I love my TKD sisters and brothers!

In the ring my sensei judged, we saw one bloodied nose (from a fluke head-butt), a badly strained hamstring that forced a competitor to withdraw and a knockout from a well-timed kick that was one of the most controlled techniques I've ever seen (no joke!). Of course that was all in the men's 18-34-yr-old divisions. The women's 35+ division had three competitors for kumite (surprise, surprise). Sigh...

I jokingly told one of my training partners that we should organize an all-female tournament in our area soon. She joked back that it would probably last about 10 minutes - and she's probably right. What is it about female martial artists competing in large tournaments? How come there just aren't many of us there?

For those of you who compete, what do you look for in a tournament? Low fees? Traditional vibe? Lots of different styles or just your style represented? Glitter sticks and creative forms? Close to home? Just wondering...