Oct 2, 2018
My youngest child is about to start Karate. That will mean every single person in my family, except me, will be a karate-ka. I used to do karate myself, a long time ago in Ireland. Now I am just a Karate Mom ... and Karate wife!
A few times a year my children and my husband participate in Karate tournaments. Each tournament relies heavily on "volunteers". I use inverted commas, because you don't really volunteer, the karate Moms or Dads or Wives or Husbands have to take the duties in turn.
At the last tournament, in July, it was my turn. For the second time. The first time I had such a great experience I wasn't concerned about being on duty again. The first time all I had to do was collect the certificates for the winners from the calligraphers that were on site. I collected the certificates and brought them down to the trophy and medal table to be presented in the morning kata award ceremony and the afternoon kumite award ceremony. Not only was it an easy job, it was one that only required me being present for an hour twice in the day.
This past July, unfortunately this was not the case. This time I was on court duty. It was the busiest day of my karate Mom / wife life to date! From the moment I arrived at the tournament location I was on duty. We started with a meeting about what our roles were. Then we had to participate in the opening ceremony. Following that it was straight to the courts to assist with the smooth running of each bout. We did get an hour for lunch and it was provided free of charge by the karate association.
I was on the preschooler's court. Most definitely the busiest court for the volunteers. Unlike the older children, the preschoolers have no idea what is going on and they can't do much for themselves. You have to organize them into the correct order for their bout as well as make sure they are fit for court. Thankfully though, one of my own children was on this court so I could watch her up close, but I did miss all of my husband's and other children's bouts.
For the kumite bouts in particular there wasn't even a second to breathe. There were only two of us volunteers to help all children get their gloves and feet guards on and tie the colored rope around their waist that indicates which side they are on. And that their obi were also tied properly. All the while keeping note of who was eliminated and who progressed and getting the children in the right order for the next bout.
At the time I didn't enjoy it much, it was 37 degrees and there was no air conditioning in the sports center. I was just focused on not passing out and not messing up. There was one mess up when the wrong child was put forward for a bout and all eyes were on me, the foreigner. Thankfully, the other volunteer who was actually the one to mess up, stepped forward and I got bows of apology.
On balance though, the role of a karate Mom / wife is a lot easier than a sport like say soccer or baseball where the Moms have duties monthly. In Karate it is only really at tournaments that we need to help out. As tournaments are spread out and the duties shared in turn, it usually only works out at having to volunteer once every year or every eighteen months.
The last tournament may have passed in a chaotic blur, but it was a really interesting experience and I learned quite a lot about how the scoring and judging works. I can't say I am looking forward to the next time I have to do it, but I am not dreading it either. All part and parcel of the role of a Karate Mom volunteering at a Karate tournament!
Level 8 LocalGuide with Google. Blogging about life in Japan as an Irish WAHM to 4 kids on insaitama.com.