There's a lot of talk on here about the importance/unimportance of competition, but I'm curious how everyone is defining competition. It sounds like a relatively simple answer, but depending on the purpose of competition can determine whether or not it's important. For clarification, when I mention competition here, I'm specifically asking about competition in the terms that it would be a beneficial or necessary part of training. For example: A UFC santioned fight is competition, I think we can all agree on that. So is a boxing match, or a WTF tournament, or a Naga competition. Some of those can be tournament styled, where you have to win to go on to the next match, others can be a one-set match. I could participate in an amateur boxing match once, and never fight again, regardless if I win or lose. That brings me to the first issue. If there is no pressure to win, does it count as competition? If I enter a match, with the same plan not to fight again whether or not I win, and if I'm just as happy losing as winning, I just wanted to say that I 'fought', does that count as a competition? To me, this would technically be a competition, but I don't see myself gaining anything special from it. The second point for me is: how much does your opponent matter in considering something a competition? If I compete in a state tournament in full contact karate or kickboxing, I'm 130 pounds, my opponent is 250, and he wins by virtue of being stronger/bigger than me. Does that still count as a competition for either of us? If I'm a black belt whos been training for 10 years, and enter a tournament with only white belts, who have never done that style, does that still count as a competition? What if there's a significant age difference-if someone decides to allow a 25 year old into a tournament with only 10 year olds, they're competing but would that count as a competition? To me, while these may fit the definition of competition in the general sense, I wouldn't gain the benefit of testing my stuff or being in that adrenaline environment, because beating on a 10 year old or someone that's never thrown a punch doesn't take a whole lot of skill. Next: In house competitions. If my local school holds a competition for just members of the school, does that count as a competition? It's against the people I spar with all the time, and I only need to be effective against them, not in general. But it could still have that pressure, especially if something rides on it (think the thread where a belt promotion depends on beating someone else from the school during the test). What about street fights. If I fought in the street against some random person, is that a competition? It's something where I would be actively trying to win, the other person could have any level of skill, train in any level of style without my knowledge, and there are consequences from the loss. If not, what is missing to make it a competition/gain the benefits from one? Finally: sparring matches. If I spar with someone, from a different style, and we both have every desire to win, does that count as a competition? What if it's a hard contact sparring match, where we both are going for a KO, versus a medium contact sparring match, where we have someone unofficially letting us know who is 'better' in the match? I guess my question is, what exactly are the benefits of a competition, and do they have to be in a specific 'competition' setting in order to count for it. And are there competitions/people who can compete but not gain that benefit at all?