• Yehudit Zicklin-Sidikman

The Tournament, Part 2


There are different ways of running a tournament based on the number of competitors.


When there are a lot of competitors, it is some sort of knockout.


Lose once, you have another fight, lose again, you are done.


The other option is round-robin. Usually, for groups of 5 or fewer competitors.


At my unexpected stint at Nationals, mine was round-robin.


And there were five competitors.


It was my first tournament and I was expected to fight four matches. Whether I won or lost.


I thought that childbirth had taught me something about time. But four minutes, when you are in a tournament, feels like eternity.


I thought that childbirth had taught me something about time. But four minutes, when you are in a tournament, feels like eternity.

My almost 8-year-old son was babysitting his 1-year-old sister in the stands.


Sensei was matside in his usual stoic quiet.


The rest is mostly a blur.


What I do remember is that the third fight was the toughest. Did I mention that the women I was fighting against were at least a decade younger than me (I had just turned 30! And had 5 kids already!!!) and were vying for a place on the national team? And, my matches just happened to fall in a way that the 1st one was with the woman who was closest to me in rank and it just got worse from there.


Oh yes, there is all that too.


The third fight lasted foreeeeeeeever. I got off the mat barely able to catch my breath.


Wait. That means that this was actually some sort of small victory. I lasted until the final seconds of the match. That means it was actually hard for her to beat me.


Wait. That means that this was actually some sort of small victory. I lasted until the final seconds of the match. That means it was actually hard for her to beat me.

Mind blown.

There was just no way that I was getting on the mat for that last fight.


Sensei had never taught me about what the rules or procedures are for dropping out. So, I found one of the few female referees and went over to her respectfully and asked, “what do I need to do to not fight my last match?”


G-d bless her soul! Her response was. “Oh my! You have been wonderful. Everyone is so proud of you. You go back out there and just keep doing what you have been doing.”


And I did.

No ippon. But I proudly stepped back onto the mat and did the best I could.

The next day’s newspaper had the following article:


“Female Soldier and Ultra-Orthodox Mom Steal the Show at the Judo Nationals”


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