Second place, first place, and winning by default

Today I competed in a karate tournament. I came away with two trophies, one for second place in the kata I performed, and one for first place in kumite(sparring). I actually prefer the second place trophy to the first, and here’s why. Maybe some of you out there have faced a similar situation.

Competition in a tournament is divided by two things, rank(that’s your belt level) and age. I’m a purple belt in Hawaiian Kempo, so I’m moderately advanced, but not really high ranked. But as for age, well, I’m in what is euphemistically called the “Executive” division, meaning us older folks over thirty-five.(I’m fifty-six).

So at my level and age division for the kata there were three competitors. I placed second, but I was very happy that the first place winner was also from the dojo I attend.

Moving over to sparring(which is further divided by gender) I find I’m the only female of my rank, division and age to have signed up. So by default I got first place. I did end up sparring in an exhibition match with a woman in the next age level down who was in the same position. Of course she trounced me, as she was a black belt. But the judges had kind things to say about how I did some good blocking of her head kicks.

So whoopee, I won a first place but it wasn’t nearly as much fun as winning the second place was. Anyone else ever been more proud of a lower finish than a higher, in anything?

At graduation they gave out scholarships to the top student in each subject, but each person could only have one award which meant they’d have to choose between subjects if they were the top in more than one. I had the highest mark for Information Processing, which is basically a glorified ‘welcome to computers’ class. The top scorer in Computer Science also had the top score in Calculus, and obviously he chose that honour. This bumped me up to the top of Comp Sci, which I took honours for, because it was a more challenging and prestigious course.

I went to a rural high school and only joined clubs to get out of class. I was a member of 4-H (high school agriculture association) although I had little interest in it. We had to go to this district wide competition where other students got awards for things like chicken raising and cow breeding. I didn’t do any other that but another part of it was to take tests for subjects kind of like merit badges in scouting for things we had been working on. I hadn’t been working on much of anything but that didn’t matter because you could still take any test you wanted so I signed up for a whole bunch of them. I am good at test taking so when the afternoon award ceremony came around, I got a whole string of awards for my test scores on the subject tests. My favorite was a personal hygiene award where I maxed out the combed hair and clipped nails inspection sections.

Just adopt the Steven Bradbury approach.

He said he didn’t consider the medal a symbol of how well he did in the final, but “I’ll take it as the last decade for the hard slog [work] that I’ve put in.”

My first fencing tournament…at 25…was against nobody older than 16 years old. >.<
There was a name for your first tournament, which I forget, but you only ever fence against anyone who has never before officially competed during your first one.

There were two brothers: one was 16, the other was…5.

He was obviously so happy and smiley to be able to do what big brother was doing, but he was not at all focused on anything; more just waving his foil around and laughing and having fun.
I fought little brother as my second fight in that first tournament. Now, to win, you have to clearly win. This involves touching the opponent with your foil…and the foil must bend. I was sure I was going to knock the little guy right over, so I held back, but the judges said I had to do it. Luckily, nobody fell down and he was happy just to be walked off the strip.

Big brother kicked my ass next. :stuck_out_tongue:

In college in the US, I ran for Student Government. Seats are apportioned to the different “Colleges” that make up the university based on enrollment in degree programs, and the IT & Engineering school had a few seats. I was apparently the only one from IT&E to actually run, so my entire candidacy was going around and finding a few people to sign my petition, then raiding the CS computer lab and finding a dozen or so people to actually vote for Student Government in order to get the minimum vote count.

In her first regional track meet, she was the only girl in her age division for the high jump. I think this is when she was about 9. She tends to be shy, and since all of her same-age team-mates had no-showed the meet, she didn’t want to go down. But with some encouragement, she went.
She hated high jump, BTW, and was only there because her coach had essentially mandated it. When she practiced, she came home with big bruises on her thighs from landing on the pole. She jumps, of course, as if her dad is a White Man (which I am).
So anyway, she had 3 trials to clear the bar at 3 feet, failed all 3, and still took home the first.
I was very proud. Half of life is often just showing up. Congratulations on all of it!

My 10 year old girl occasionally goes through this. At her last tournament (she’s a blue belt) all the other girls had left by the finals so she was getting the grand champion in kumite be default when she asked if she could fight the boys. She beat them all. Badass.

Spanish taekwondo fighter Coral Bistuer used to practice with the guys because there weren’t women her size around, I’ve seen interviews where she said that being in a real competition with women was both easier because they were smaller and weaker than her usual partners, but harder because they fought differently.

It took me a while to understand it, but I was once a “reserve” for one of two summer internships offered through my school and people were congratulating me more than the people who actually got the jobs. Both of those, as well as the other reserve, were one year ahead of me and in the right specialty for the jobs, whereas I was in a different one. I hadn’t gotten the job, but I’d done better than 99% of the candidates while starting as one of the least-likely ones.

There are certain points in the curriculum of Spanish “Official Language Schools” where you can take the exams without having been a student (we call this “por libre”, “on your own”). I did that for the final year, passed the written part, went to the spoken part - at one point, one of the teachers asked “have you ever been to the States?” “yeah, I just came back last month after four years living there”. They looked at each other and said “you may go”. I passed. A few days later I was walking down the street and was accosted by a girl who’d been in the year after mine in HS, wanting to know if it was me who’d “passed 5th English on first try and on her own”. Uh, well, yeah.
Turns out those particular teachers only passed one person each July and one each September. They didn’t want to “demean” the non-degree (you don’t get a diploma, only your ‘pass’ cert) by “giving away” too many passes. Since my only reason to sign up for the exam was to have a paper for a certain kind of HR person and others who’d also taken it would have needed a lot more, I actually felt pretty guilty about it. Apparently I’ve even become some sort of legend… and I didn’t even really need the paper, and all I’d done to “prepare” for it was live a weird life. I still freak out when someone else tells me about “this girl who passed 5th on first try on her own”. Hopefully it will die down now that a 6th level/year/grade has been added.

Yeah, I took second place at a judo tournament once, two of us and I got second, yippee skippy. It’s embarrassing to go accept a trophy for getting an ass-kicking.

The win by default technique is why my high school band wins a lot more awards now. They only go to contests where there is no one else in their bracket. And the parents eat it up.