Well, if anything, you have known me to be pretty straightforward and honest about both the good and the bad. So, here goes. First, for the good news. Graham qualified in sparring to go to the US Junior Olympics. The bad news, however, is pretty voluminous. As much as I hate to admit it, Graham qualified entirely by luck. As much as I love him, I was disappointed. It was better for Sydney, but not by much. In the end, Sydney would come home with 2 silver medals and Graham would leave with a silver and a bronze.
I know, I know, it doesn't sound that bad. But, trust me, I am his father and I love to brag about my boy. This was just not something to be proud of. If I am being blatantly honest I will tell you that I have never seen Graham or Sydney perform worse in competition.
So, what happened?
Well, first off were Graham's forms. He would perform them on 3 different occasions. Graham has performed this particular form for the last 9 months. To say he has done it 1000s of times is a literal statement. He has won a gold medal with his form no less than 5 times. However, yesterday, on all 3 occasions, he did it incorrectly. It looks like nervousness was proabbly the culprit. Twice he botched it almost entirely. The only good news about his form was that the things he did actually remember to do, he did with perfect form. In fact, had he remembered all of his form he would have won handily. From a technical aspect, he was far superior than his competitors. This is the whole reason he was able to hold on to the silver medal. Although everyone got through the form with all of the correct moves they did not have Graham's level of technical perfection.
At least, that is all I can gather.
Graham's sparring came down to what I have been concerned about for the last few competitions - a complete lack aggressiveness. He hops around chasing someone until the kick him. They kick and score. He kicks and misses. Then he hops around chasing them until they kick him again. The process repeats. Not once did I see one of the 3 defensive moves that we have been working on and not once did I see any of the offensive moves that we have worked on. It isn't as though this is new. I have seen him make all of these moves in competition before. In fact, his past successes have been a result of these moves. My point is that he has gone in the wrong direction. He is worse, by far, at sparring than he was 3 months ago.
Worse yet, I have no idea what went wrong or what I can do to help get him back on track.
As a father, I actually kind of like this. This is an opportunity to spend some quality time working with him. This can be a huge positive. We can really bond over this and work together. The problem though is two fold. He is already overburdened with Tae Kwon Do. Although he loves it. 6 to 8 hours per week in 4 team practices, 1 or 2 classes, and private lessons leave him not wanting to practice much at home. Second, I am no expert. I don't know what to do to help him.
The good news is that although he is tanking right now, he absolutely loves it.
So here is our plan. We are going to cut out some practices during the week. I am going to meet with Master Adrian and Paul and work out a practice regimen at home where he and I can bond doing it together. In this scenario, we can give him personalized one on one attention. We can still meet the goals set by the team but we can also, I think, help him make some leaps and bounds forward. Hopefully, we can get it clicking in his brain.
It is worth a shot and at the very least, if I do my job as a dad, I can use this experience to bring us closer together than ever.
Sydney? Hmm. I don't know. She is a different animal. I think she is burnt out. She needs a different kind of motivation and there is not nearly enough room today for us to develop a plan for her. It will require more thought. Physically she can deliver but attitude is limiting her effectiveness. Her issue is between the ears. We have to deal with her game mentally and, unfortunately, I will leave that discussion for another day.
In the end, although the kids seemed to have fared pretty well in such a large competition, they really were at their worst. However, there is a silver lining. This challenge can bring us all closer.
And that is what purpose is all about.