That Tournament Crazy

The past weekend was a whirlwind of vomit, broken phones, malfunctioning elevators, evacuated buildings and more wallball than I had any reason to expect.

I was at the North American International Karate Championships (NAIKC) in Larthrup Village, MI. (Here’s the link to their website.)

All of the crazy happenings had nothing to do with the event’s promoter, Mr. Loveless. He’s the head of Team Revolution and one of the inspirations for this post a few years ago. He was a great coach and is still a good friend. It pays to say that through all the drama and ridiculousness that occurred this past weekend, Mr. Loveless handled it like a champ, and was always there with a smile and a positive attitude.

But, let’s get to all the ridiculousness!

Rewinding a few days, it all started off this past Friday morning.

Sunrise over Lake Michigan between some trees in Madison, WI
Huzzah for leaving early!

I generally don’t see a whole lot of sunrises as I’m usually sleeping, since I generally don’t get home until 10-11pm every night. So catching this view right out of the gate was wonderful, and made me forgive the martial arts world just a little bit.

The rest of the drive was great, in a sandpapery, everything seems too sharp and loud kind of way. Since I live in Madison, it’s around 6.5 hours to Detroit. After several hours I had managed to insulate myself from sleep with a whole lot of caffeine and once everything stopped vibrating, the rest of the world seemed somewhat normal.

Hold onto that idea, it goes out the window pretty soon.

For those uninitiated in the ways of two-day tournaments. Friday night is sequestered into a variety of events. Generally, it’s team competition and extreme forms. Depending on the tournament, there can be a handful of other events that pop up throughout the evening. Nothing starts until nighttime. At the NAIKC, stuff started around 6:30. Since I was there with SportMartialArts.com, we were going to get in a little early and set up cameras, figure out where we wanted to be, and generally wait with an expression of mild boredom until something happened.

But, since I had shown up in Detroit at about 3, I had time to kill. This may be confusing as I had to leave so early to get there. Initially, in the planning process, someone had told me to be there by noon. I flat out shot that down, and we settled on “2-ish.” The fact that when I showed up at three everyone was a) sleeping in their room or b) not there yet was completely unsurprising. I’ve been in competitive martial arts for close to two decades. Things happen when they happen and not a moment sooner. I have accepted this and treat tournament plans and timelines as a rough suggestion to the dream of the promoter rather than an actual guide to events.

With my newfound free time. I walked around Lathrup Village, the little subdivision of Detroit the event was being held in and saw a whole lot of really big, empty buildings which gave the whole area a ghost town type of vibe.

IMG_4788
Case in point. There’s no-one around. At all.

 

Wandering along, thinking about ghost towns, and long, abandoned hallways, I stumbled upon this scene.

Black shoe with an empty liquor bottle wrapped in caution tape
That’s one shoe with a bottle of booze in it, wrapped in caution tape, and tied to a tree…

I don’t even know where to begin on this one. All I can say is I apparently don’t party nearly hard enough. Also, this type of thing always brings up the question “where did the other shoe go?” AND there is absolutely nothing around. This tree was surrounded by parking lots.

What happened?!

I left before whatever it was, happened to me and got back to the hotel just in time to load up all the camera equipment and head out to the venue.

It’s hot. It’s sticky. It’s also un-airconditioned.

Bad news bears.

The Friday night events start out pretty well. I’m running live streams on some rings, taking a few photos, doing whatever I’m told to. It’s great.

However, it’s during team fights the next unfortunate thing happens. I forget who was fighting who, it was a teen division and they were killing it. Working hard and getting some good fights in. The division ended, one of the fighters turned away. I’m checking the video camera, and I hear. “Watch out! He’s gotta puke!”

I look up just in time to have a fighter shoulder past me and vomit at the same time. Mostly missing me.

Mostly.

My left foot had fallen in the line of duty.

In retrospect, I was fortunate he had only been drinking clear liquids and not eating much in prep for this. The damage was relatively minor. However, I still passed off my camera and spent some time in the bathroom washing my shoelace and getting all the chunks out of my shoe.

Super pleasant.

Saturday morning started off with the underwhelming experience of being locked out of the building for an hour and a half. This is where the wall ball came into play. A couple of kids started playing and I watched. Apparently, the custodian who was scheduled to come in didn’t. And decided not to tell anyone. So, 200 people milled around in a parking lot for a while. It was alright, I got to finish my coffee.

Once we got it, we finally started rolling. I was competing today, so I ran a few divisions and won my Korean. Which was cool. The others went well, but there are some things to work on for my next tournament.

That’s how it goes.

Finally, at about 4:30 we finish up divisions and grab some food. It’s glorious. So far, I’d been running on a few granola bars and that cup of wallball coffee. From there, we do the nighttime finals, which I will be writing up a piece on for SportMartialArts.com in the next week or so, and we were done! Two days work and a whole lot of karate was finished and wrapped!

So, now what?

Downtown Detroit, that’s what.

IMG_4802
It was in this place I went to my first ever club.

It was an experience! Around 3ish it was decided we should all start heading back, and while I was calling the Uber, someone knocked my phone out of my hand. Shattering my screen.

Ultimate sadness. But, it did bring a whole new level of interest into doing the most basic of functions. After all, calling someone or texting now occasionally put shards of glass in my fingers. Fun!

We were up the next morning around 7, I was on the road by 8ish. Saw a friend for lunch in Kalamazoo, made it home around 4:30, went to Milwaukee for a dinner with the inlaws, managed to fall out of a chair (and practice my break-falls) and finally made it back to Madison a few hours later.

 

What a weekend.

 

IMG_4797
All I want to do is sleep. 

 

 

 

 

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