A Small Burden of Duty with Pajamas

Today I ended up being seen but ended up not doing very much except change clothes.

Today was the Capital Region Junior Karate Contest for my karate style. The competitors are as young as fourth grade elementary school and as old as high school seniors. Earlier this year I committed to attending and serving as a judge. In fact, I marked it on my calendar way back in April or May and have been reminded of it several times, including last week at practice.

I didn’t really feel like going, and almost called to cancel four different times this past week. With the girls away, I thought a couple days to just relax and be alone would be more interesting. However, given all the reminders I’d been given, I thought I’d better go. I packed up my dogi and caught a 7:15 train and went down to Tokyo. I decided, though, I would use the girls’ absence as my excuse to abscond as early as possible. To offset this, I arrived early and helped set up–which mostly involved moving and setting up chairs and tables.

Imagine my surprise then, when I discovered I wasn’t scheduled to judge any events.

I don’t fully understand why this happened. No one in our dojo was scheduled to be judge, including sensei. Despite this, I put on my dogi and sat down to watch.

Because this is the largest junior contest, there seems to be a certain amount of politics involved, especially for those of us with black dogis. Sensei once explained that once you’re an official sixth level black belt, karate becomes more like a job. (I’m still not official.) Also, unlike lower levels, it’s also possible to lose a degree and have to retest. This is mostly a big deal if you want to have an official dojo and train adults.

Being seen at the contest is therefore a big deal. Those who haven’t played the politics well can find their dojos unable to officially train adults. (This happened for a brief time to my old dojo in Itoigawa a few years ago when they didn’t play the game well enough.)

I played spectator for a while. The high school kids were especially good, even impressing my sensei.

At lunch time I changed clothes and ran away. I don’t know how politically savvy that was, but it was more fun than playing spectator whilst dressed in black pajamas.

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