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Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

Trophiesweb I'm throwing my trophies away. I've been carrying trophies around everywhere I've moved since 1974. This past move, from the Quad Cities to Tampa, included several boxes, some of them quite large, of trophies from martial arts tournaments. Some of the trophies are as tall as I am. Some are taller.

It's with mixed feelings that I do this. The trophies represent many years of hard work, realized by putting my skills on the line in front of a jury of black belts.

Although I competed in tournaments as far back as 1974, I didn't really get into the scene until 1988, and then I really began competing in earnest around 1996. Around the Midwest circuit at that time, no one knew who I was. First place wins were scarce. The longer I competed and the harder I practiced, the first place trophies began piling up.

My favorite accomplishments came in Chicago, where the competition was very tough. A lot of talented people in forms, and in black belt sparring injury was common and you couldn't even score a point unless you belted your opponent. "Point sparring" is pretty rough there, so those trophies meant a lot, both for forms and sparring.

I've always loved tournaments--both for the friends I've made and the sheer adrenalin rush of the competition. It also provides a good incentive to keep in shape.

But it's silly to cart around all these trophies, and as Nancy and I contemplate a move back to the Quad Cities from Tampa, I know that I don't want to move the trophies again. I threw dozens away when we moved here, when we closed down our school. Now, I'm getting rid of my final 56 first-place trophies. This morning I rounded them all up for a photo before they go.

Hey, I'm only 55. I still have a few more tournaments in me. Maybe I can pile up a few more. AFTER we move.


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Dennis Moran

I've wondered why some martial arts trophies I've seen are so big -- I don't know of other sports where the trophies are that big. The NBA championship trophy was small enough for Michael Jordan to cradle in his lap in that memorable photo.
But maybe highly successful athletes in other sports have the same problem: "Tiger, we can't keep lugging all these green jackets around every time we move ..."


Dennis, I've wondered that, too. I've often joked that the word "gaudy" is not in the vocabulary of some martial arts tournament promoters. There must be something in the ego of martial artists that requires that type of trophy. A lot of tournaments advertise "6 Foot Trophies!" :)

One of the last big tournaments I attended gave very nice 1st place trophies that were smaller but high quality -- PLUS a sword for each first place black belt winner. I'm keeping my sword.

Some of the trophies that mean a lot to me are simple medals -- the two gold I won at the National AAU Kung Fu Championships in 1990.

In the back of my mind, I've scolded myself for lugging these trophies around. "It's just ego," I told myself a few times. Let them go. But it's still hard when you work so hard to get them!!!

Sean C. Ledig

I've competed in several tournaments in recent years that awarded medals. The only trophies were for Grand Championships.

It makes sense to me. I wouldn't want to lug around a bunch of trophies, either. But the medals can be displayed without taking too much space.

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