Picture from Rambling Rican
Once I actually started to perform, I felt better. In both kata I did a couple of "kiai." "Kiai" means "spirit shout." A kiai is basically deep breathing with a shout added to it. Deep breathing helps you relax, so the kiai helped me to not be so nervous. The kiai was originally meant to startle opponents and momentarily distract them. Now the kiai is often used in kata competitions. A good kiai impresses the judges. It also gives you power. Exhaling just before you strike adds power to the strike.
The first event I competed in was weapons kata. I performed the kusanku no sai kata. Here's a video of it. The guy who bows to me before I enter the ring is another one of Sensei Stanley's students, btw. When I step up to the judges I bow and do my introduction. I say my name, the style of karate I study, the school I represent, and the kata that I'm going to perform. I was nervous, so I stumbled a bit on that.
At the beginning of the sai kata I have one sai up and one down. Kusanku is called the "moonlight kata." It's as though I'm out in the woods at night and there's a full moon. I'm using one hand to shield my eyes so I can look around, and the other hand is guarding my groin, or maybe pushing something out of the way. In Isshinryu the weapons kata don't have kicks, so the part where I jump up in the air is not a kick. I'm not sure what that is. When I drop down low after that jump I am getting down where I won't be seen and looking for my opponent.
Kusanku no sai is a variation of the kusanku kata, which I performed in the empty-hand division. the empty-hand version is very similar to the sai version, although the empty-hand one has kicks and the sai one does not. Also the sai version is longer. It includes some moves that are not in the empty-hand version. In the empty-hand kata I am fighting several opponents. Eight, I think. Here are some pictures of it.
I got 4th place in the weapons division and second place in the empty-hand division. I didn't get first place like I was hoping for, but I certainly did better than I did at the tournament in April. In April I did not place in weapons. They only do trophies through 4th place and I got 5th place last time. Same for the time before that, last November. This was the first time I got a trophy in the weapons division. Last time in the empty-hand division I got 3rd place...out of three competitors. I was not satisfied with my performance back in April. The day of the tournament and several times after I said that that would not happen again. I would do better at the next tournament. And I did. I still didn't get first place, but I did better than I did in April.
In the tournament next spring I plan to do three divisions; weapons kata, empty-hand kata, and grappling. And I plan to get first place in at least one of those divisions. These tournaments are my version of Sasuke. I am still aiming for my own kanzen seiha. I haven't gotten it yet, but like my hero, Shingo Yamamoto, I won't give up. I will keep trying. Next time I will win.