Don't let your kid keep score
Like any parent, I enjoy watching our teenager spread her little fluttering wings and teeter on the edge of the nest. And again like any parent, I especially hate it when they use our good examples against us. But I relish the way they use it to test their independence.
We're getting ready for a tae kwon do tournament so last night's sparring used the electronic scoreboard. It's a laptop with three sets of red/blue triggers used by the ring judges. When a fighter scores a hit, any two of the three judges squeezing the same color trigger within a second of each other automatically logs the score. The laptop speakers obligingly squeak out an electronic "Blip!" and the display updates.
Our referee is one of the finest Navy Chief Petty Officers I've ever known. He's also a third-dan black belt familiar with every dirty trick in the book. I know this because he regularly uses them on us so that we can recognize when our opponents are breaking the rules. He's taught these techniques to all of us including my daughter, who worships the ground he walks on. I've lectured my daughter a dozen times that she has to play fair and she can't complain to the ref if an opponent breaks the rules. She can make sure the ref sees the violation and she can tell her coach about it, but she can't kvetch about the officiating. These days when I say "No complaints!" I get back the Eeyore voice with "Yes, Dad."
set me up asked me to spar Jorge for the evening's final match. As a teenager Jorge was on the Mexico national team. Now he's in his 30s and he's only 5'8" but he's 210 pounds of wide-shouldered solid muscle (construction worker) and a mean old-school front-leg fighter-- Sergeant Rock in a hogu. He spins like a tornado and it's very hard to get inside his range without taking damage. He's also a good buddy.
Our judges were a black belt (a friend who I've helped with many college homework assignments), my instructor, and my daughter. I was pretty sure that the judging would be going my way, always a comfort when I'm sparring Jorge.
I'm 5'10" and "only" 195 but my orthopedic braces add another four pounds. My slow reflexes are balanced by an extremely high tolerance for pain and a deep well of anaerobic endurance. My strategy defaults to "you can score the first point but if you get in my range then I'll stay on you until I drive you out of the ring". If a TKD fighter is driven out of the ring twice then his opponent gets a point.
The ref started the match and Jorge leaned in with his arm extended for us to execute the comradely gesture of tapping our fists together before assuming our fighting stances. Warily watching his front leg, I leaned in with my fist out. As we tapped knuckles he immediately put his back foot alongside my helmet. (It's the oldest trick in the book, and one that the ref has practiced on us many times.) The crowd let out a spontaneous "Whoaaaaa!" of applause and I couldn't help laughing at my stupidity. The ref, seeing me stagger, called a time-out and Jorge stepped back.
As I fought to keep my balance while the room spun down, I clearly heard the laptop speakers go "Blip!" Now, you're not supposed to reward the bad guys for breaking the rules, but the judges' decisions can only be overruled by the ref (who was laughing too hard to get involved). My instructor swore he didn't pull the trigger and I believed him. That meant one of the heartless miscreants had to be my own daughter. A look at her face confirmed it, and she said "No complaints, Dad!"
I lost 4-2, the price of a two-point head shot. I woulda been a contender but I was still laughing too hard.
I think we're all ready for the tournament...
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