6-17 A Talent Show, Done Right

One of the final singers of the night.

You know when you went to talent shows in high school to support your friends but then spent the rest of the time kind of bored, or enjoying the schedenfreude of your peers’ botched performances? This was like that, except awesome.

Friday night was Talent Night at the Youth Center. The Youth Center has kind of a lot of talent, so I had high hopes. Most of my expectations were met, including the ones where everything was going to start late and run later.
Jason and my “karate” class volunteered to move chairs, which meant we should have been leaving the Youth Center at 3:30. We left at about 4 and made a pit stop to pick up 10 kilos of green kava on the way. We should have had 12 youth moving chairs but since the kava wasn’t finished, we only had 7. The other 5 went to go skin, grind and squeeze the kava. Still, we got the chairs into the hall and arranged before they opened the doors, though I’m not convinced it was before 5:30 when we supposed to have finished.
The lead singer from Realistic, a hip hop-reggae fusion band.
Festivities were meant to kick off at 6. My group started selling kava around 6:15. Festivities kicked off around 7:30, which worked to our advantage since that left more people outside buying kava, juice and popcorn from us. (Yes, I was basically running a lemonade stand. Except a lemonade stand for adults!) We were set to do a demo at 8. We actually performed around 9:30.
The police stopped by around 12:30 to tell us that we needed to clear out, which sort of kabashed the last few performances, though we actually finished at 1 am. Jason and I left before we had to move chairs again.
Don’t they look sharp?
First review: our youth did great. They were ready to take the stage when we were called. They walked on in order and went immediately into their lines. They bowed. They did their form, in-sync and with decent kyops. They bowed. The exited the stage precisely and sat where we told them while Jason and I did a bit more of a demo. They stood up together. They bowed. They left in a neat, single-file line. I have never seen them so well-behaved. They looked more put together and professional than any other group there. Not that I’m biased or anything.
Aside from the stellar performance, they also did a great job working the concessions stand. They coordinated themselves (with a few nudges from me) to get the popcorn popped and into newspaper cones to sell, make the kava, make the juice and start selling. They handled the money all night and handed over a completed stand to me at 1 am. I have no complaints.
The group before us took awhile getting set up.  We waited.
It has been rewarding to me to see the way they are coming together. They have gone from a group of youth interested in learning “karate like Jackie Chan” to a group of friends who use each other for support. I am watching them blossom into leaders within the group and within their wider social group. They are gaining confidence and with it, they are learning to speak up and assert themselves in a healthy way. They are not without their faults, like being way too squirrelly during class, talking too much, giving each other a hard time and spending 3 minutes trying to form a straight line. But to see where they were in March and where they are in June makes me want to stay here and train them until they grow into all this potential that I see.
Jason being a jerk.  Then again, I tossed him across the floor onto tile.
The other groups performing ran the gamut. Alpha, the hip hop tutor, did an impressive bit of coordination where he got about 12 groups to do a 5 second bit as part of the opening. The opening singer had a set of pipes that professionals would envy. She set the bar high. As usual, the hip hop dance groups did an excellent performances, all 5 of them. I particularly enjoyed a band called Realistic who I think embodies the future of music in Vanuatu. Rap lyrics and vocals over reggae-esque keyboard, drums and guitar. It works, despite that description.
I am impressed with the capabilities of the youth. I know that 90% of them are just killing time down at the Youth Center. But the other 10% are busy creating something amazing. I love watching that something.
[Photo credit goes to my photography class.  They took 541 photos.  I’m proud of them, too.]

5-5 Judo Tournament (I swear it isn’t martial arts infidelity!)

Yeah, what his gi says…

A few months ago, Jason and I started training with the Judo club. We started training with the Judo club because we want to be training. With people. I’m sick of training alone. It gets boring to do nothing but the same form, over and over. Even doing techniques against Jason gets old, because the same thing happens every time. I know how far his wrists bend, I know where his center of balance is. Before any Hwa Rang Do people read this and think we’re cheating on HRD, I promise we aren’t. Well, we are but only due to lack of options. I know that Jason wants to go back to HRD and is viewing this as a chance to improve his throws and take downs. So, I swear it isn’t infidelity.

The women’s division.  Note how much bigger I am than all of them…

About three weeks ago our English-speaking instructor, Ted, announced a tournament. ( We have a French-speaking instructor, as well.) It was limited to the club we’re in, because he didn’t think there were enough competitors to invite other countries in the South Pacific. At practice one day, Jason and his partner and me and my two partners (uneven number of women) were all working near each other. Ted walks over and says, “After class, all of you register for the tournament.”

After class, we all registered for the tournament. Two weeks later we had the tournament.
Me and Florence.  I was having fun.

Judo has rules that I haven’t fought under in a while. No touching the face or head, not even in ground work. No small joint manipulation, which includes wrists, knees and ankles. Not attacking for 15 seconds or so counts as stalling and gets a penalty. And it is possible to win on a good clean throw. We both had to readjust a little.

Judo competitions are done by weight class. Unfortunately, there were only 5 women competitors and all of them were not anywhere near my weight class. I asked if they’d prefer to have me fight the men because the rest of the women were fairly close in weight. I would feel like it was an unfair win if I won by growing bigger. After a bit of discussion, they agreed that was a good idea. Then I felt bad because I thought I was forcing my way into a division I didn’t belong in. So I talked to Ted and explained it to him. He talked to Florence, the French-speaking instructor, and they put me back with the women. As Jason pointed out, sometimes my sense of fairness gets a little out of control.
Jason and the boys, waiting for their divisions to start.

I got a penalty for stalling in one match, which is not too big a deal. It doesn’t affect scoring until you get more than that. Otherwise, my matches went well. I won 2 on throws and a third with a hold down. I do think my weight made a difference, but that is the risk of fighting in an open division. And the other people there ranged in belt rank from white to black. I lost my fourth to Florence, the French-speaking instructor who used to train with the French national team. I’m not upset about that loss.

Jason also took second in his division. He lost one match to a brown belt and won the rest, mostly on holds and tap outs. From what I saw, he got a couple of good moves but I didn’t get to see much since our divisions went at the same time.
Jason’s last match.  He won on the tap out.

I learned to score the matches because there was a shortage of people willing to do that. The scoring makes sense once you understand that the three numbers on the bottom are not a 3-digit score but are rather 3 columns of number representing the different types of points. Then it all makes sense. Before I figured that one out, I was really confused.

We finished at 1 pm. It felt early to be finishing up a tournament, but I’m used to HRD tournaments that have 5 divisions for each participant. It was nice to finish early and get to have some of my day left over to do other things with. I kind of would have liked a few more matches though.