Martial arts and tournaments go hand in hand. Think about some of the greatest martial arts movies. There is The Karate Kid, Bloodsport, Fearless, and Sidekicks. Ok, perhaps Sidekicks isn’t a martial arts movie great, but it features Chuck Norris, so how can you complain? My point is that all of those movies test the main characters skills as a martial artist in the competition ring.
I started competing in karate when I was 8 years old. I had only been in karate for a couple months. I didn’t really know what I was doing. I just went out and did my karate like my instructor taught me, got some scores, and walked away with a first and a second place trophy. I’ve been competing ever since. Some tournaments I placed and got a trophy, while others I left with nothing. No matter the outcome, I learned something about myself, but more than that, I tested myself.
Testing your skills outside of the comfort of the classroom is important. I think a lot of students and even parents forget what they are really learning in karate. We train for self-defense against attackers in the real world. If you are going to be attacked, your karate instructor isn’t going to be there to help you, and chances are, your parents won’t be either (think about that if you are the parent of a student). If you get attacked for real, you are going to be scared and nervous, you aren’t going to be thinking clearly, and your adrenaline is going to be pumping. Competing at a tournament is going to put you in situation that will give you similar feelings.
The goal when we train is to be able to successfully utilize your self-defense and martial arts skills in a real life, high pressure situation. Hopefully that moment never presents itself for real, but wouldn’t you feel more confident if you knew you could still preform your techniques under stress? If you freeze up at a tournament, unable to showcase your abilities, then you may not be as prepared as you thought.
In order to truly prepare for a tournament, you need to spend a lot of time practicing, and improving yourself and your skills. The more you practice the more muscle memory you develop, the stronger your body becomes, and in turn, you become more confident. Without competition, you are just practicing. Don’t just practice, test yourself. See what kind of a martial artist you’ve become. See what kind of a person you’ve become, not only in your victories, but also in your losses. And speaking of losses, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes about competition.
“I never lose. Either I win or I learn.”