|....except the kids were trying to throw, pin, and choke one another|
Refereed my first Judo tournament this past weekend. They were short on referees and I was loaned a Gi/Belt to wear for the day in accordance with the rules.
It was the first time I'd donned a full Gi and Belt since my ACL surgery 2 months ago.
I will admit, it was a strange feeling :
1) wearing a Gi again
2) wearing someone else's Gi and Belt.
The scoring itself and the pace of kids matches became less stressful as the day wore on. Double checking that the score-keeping was accurate, and yelling the scores as to be heard was more difficult than I would have anticipated, however.
Our team's players did well, with virtually all of them earning medals (a tough day considering there were no skill divisions/it was open skill class divided only by weight class). We also won 2nd in overall team points with only 4 adult competitors.
I had a hard time not smiling while I watched the war face of some kids versus the smile that others wore during their matches...I also felt a good bit of sympathy mixed with respect for kids on the verge of tears still fighting through their match with others
I saw more time given to mat work than ever before
I saw a small but consistent contingent of competitors wearing BJJ Gi's (a good sign of crossover and the rules about Gi's and patches were relaxed so as to let them compete) and a decent number of submissions ranging from RNC to keylock to some armbars and collar chokes as well (with a solid amount of wins by osaekomi/pin rounding out the mat work - another element of Judo mat work that those who have not competed under Judo rules simply do not understand).
It was a long day of competition with spectacular throws, efforts to transition to the mat, and win by any means possible: be it throw, pin, or submission.
Can't ask for much more than that.
Judo has all the elements necessary to be a spectator sport, a practical mode of self-defense, and a tool for bettering us as human beings.
We just have to continue to work to compete, train, foster competitive avenues for players (regardless of the sport/rule set), and obtain the attention it deserves.