Why compete in tournaments?

_Simon_

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That’s my biggest reason for competing. The last tournament was point fighting. I trained like it was a Kyokushin/knockdown tournament rather than a point fighting tourney. Sure I could’ve trained to the rules of the competition, but that’s not really what I’m after. Had I trained to the point fighting rules, I’d have done better in the tournament; but I’d rather have far more realistic skills developed than the flick of the wrist backfist and reverse punch that doesn’t quite land.

Training for my last tournament consisted of a ton of bag work. I was doing 15 rounds - 3 minutes on, 1 minute rest, 3-4 times a week. Opposite days I was doing a lot of footwork and combination stuff on the bag. Everything increased - power, speed, sharper combos, better flow, etc. Add to that a ton of sparring in the dojo. And very, very little of it was start-stop sparring.

Without having a competition hanging over my head, there’s no sense of urgency. Without that urgency, things get put off. Laziness has been creeping in again, so I plan on competing at our organization’s annual tournament in October :) I’ll do what I did last time. Preparing for the tournament is really where it’s at.

Wowza, that's a crazy amount of bagwork! Awesome..

Yeah I've got my tourney in about 4 and a half weeks and haven't really done much prep at all! Was gonna take a more relaxed approach and not go nuts anyway, but best be starting somethin' at least XD. But needing to be extra cautious at the moment with health-related stuff as it's been pretty bad, so might just have a dedicated day of tournament prep (as I've still been doing my style-trialling period, like a wandering vagrant, so I consider that part of my extra training [emoji14] )

Keen to hear how yours goes in October :)
 
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JR 137

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Wowza, that's a crazy amount of bagwork! Awesome..

Yeah I've got my tourney in about 4 and a half weeks and haven't really done much prep at all! Was gonna take a more relaxed approach and not go nuts anyway, but best be starting somethin' at least XD. But needing to be extra cautious at the moment with health-related stuff as it's been pretty bad, so might just have a dedicated day of tournament prep (as I've still been doing my style-trialling period, like a wandering vagrant, so I consider that part of my extra training [emoji14] )

Keen to hear how yours goes in October :)
Bag work is my happy place :) It enhances power, speed, and coordination. Great cardio workout too. And I go into a zone where the outside world goes away. You can’t just blindly swing at the bag though. You’ve got to have a plan.

I just bought a slip bag/maize bag too. Gotta rig that up soon.
 

skribs

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you know you can cut weight for a tournament. you could even get fitter if you wanted.

Part of what can make a tournament such a good training tool is the extra preparation you put into training for it.

A big 3 month push for a tounement can reap years of benifits.

Part of my issue is that working 14 hours a day doesn't leave much time for exercise.
 
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DrewTheTKDStudent1992

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Hey Drew,

Before last year, I never had an inkling of a desire to compete. Trained for a solid 7-8 years or so, and even though many encouraged me to compete I just was never interested at all. I didn't see the point of it, and perhaps I had a skewed perception of it (believing it was encouraging people to focus on "winning" rather than bettering themselves.. who knows!).

Last year (when I had finished up training in my old style), something within me was drawn to competing. I couldn't tell you why, but the first tournament I did I absolutely LOVED. (I had done one or two many many years ago in my first style, but that was yonks ago)

I entered it as what my rank was in my old style (4th Kyu), so was in the 5th Kyu to 1st Kyu Advanced division. Was in the point sparring and forms division, and did quite well.

Now I'm hooked haha, and have been competing since.

Honestly, I do it moreso for the experience of it. There's nothing like stepping out onto the mat, walking into the centre, and performing your kata in that atmosphere. It's quite surreal. There are so many other things I love about it though (as others have mentioned). I love the weeks spent preparing for it and bettering my skills. I love meeting more martial artists, the comradery and supporting each other on the day, even though you've only just met them.

I love the silence and focus when performing your kata, and that feeling of being in the zone, and focusing everything on that moment, and doing the kata as best as you can.

I love the speed, agility, footwork, strategy, excitement and explosiveness of point sparring.

I like going for the challenge of it, and being willing to put your skills under pressure.

I love just how fun and rewarding the whole experience is, even if you don't win, you've gained experience, and learned a bunch.


Not everyone likes competing and fair enough, but I'm a convert ;). I let go of my skewed view of it and gave it a crack anyway, and it was a great decision!

Are you thinking of competing Drew?

I’ve been struggling with that lately. On the one hand, I’m can hardly hold my own in sparring classes and I can’t even hold a kick anywhere above my waist. I even have a hard time thinking that I could handle myself in a fight.

Also I took a long break from practicing Martial Arts from Middle School - College.

But a part of me would’ve like to. In fact I wish I would’ve as a teen. So yeah, I don’t know. Maybe.
 
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dvcochran

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I definitely want to win, and when I’m preparing I train to win. I train as hard and as smart as I possibly can. But with the whole winning thing, sometimes it’s too low of a bar (if the field is awful) and other times it’s too unrealistic (if the field is way too good). I do everything thing I can to prepare, leave it all on the floor when I’m doing my thing, and walk away leaving the rest of it all to take care of itself.

In my first tournament, I was in the beginners’ pool. It was me and one other guy in my kata division. He claimed to have started 5 weeks ago and was only out there because his kids were competing and talked him into it too. I thought maybe he was just trying to get inside my head. Nope. Once he started his kata, you could tell he wasn’t lying. He stopped about half way through, shook his head, said “sorry, I forgot the rest” and bowed out. I followed his kata and did pretty well. Not spectacular, but pretty good. I didn’t feel good about my first place finish that day :)
At the last tournament, the guy who placed first was a pro danced and accomplished gymnast from New Zealand. He did Seido 3, which has a ton of high roundhouse kicks. Needless to say he did those kicks flawlessly, and the rest of the kata was solid. The second place guy was a 22 year old guy who was just naturally very talented. Placing right behind those guys wasn’t a loss at all. I did my kata better than I’ve ever done it before.

All I can hope to control is my own performance. I can’t control anyone nor anything else.
Very good comments. One note I would add is I like to think I can control my opponent when sparring. I know when I have gotten into someone head and have used it to my advantage before. It doesn't always work that way but I go in to each match believing I will be able to do it.
 

dvcochran

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I don't like tournaments. In Taekwondo, tournaments are how you progress into bigger competitions, like national or international competition. I am a 30-year-old who works at a desk all day. Before Taekwondo, I was mostly a gamer, so I put on quite a bit of weight in my early 20s. This means the people in my weight class are usually 4-6" taller than me and in better shape than me.

And, because I progressed quite quickly (because of my understanding of the curriculum), they usually have more experience than me, even for being in the same belt range. They usually have better fight instincts and better reactions than me.

I'd much prefer a no-stakes tournament. One which is merely done for the sport, and not as a stepping stone to move on to higher levels of competition. I don't want to be the best in the world. I just want to have fun.

ETA: The other issue I have is that some schools go to every tournament they can, and other schools go to a tournament once every so often so they can experience it. So it's like a church softball team going up against the Dodgers because one group does a tournament once a year to get some familiarity with them and the other school is doing one every other month to rack up as many wins as they can.
Another reason not to promote too quickly. There are learning advantages to competing but you do not get ready for tournaments by going to tournaments. That is where the dedicated class time and training comes in. Not until you get into the higher level tournaments will you find much value in knowing a lot about your competition.
 

dvcochran

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I competed for nearly thirty years, all over the place, all kinds of competitions. Learned a lot, met some great people, made some good friends. Watched students of mine compete, those that wanted to, watched them win, watched them lose, fought against some of them, and some bested me. [One of my greatest thrills in Martial Arts was having a student beat me] I also judged and refereed in competitions that whole time.

My favorite part of competing was team fighting. It was wild, raucous, sometimes violent [at least back in the day] and it was fast. Much faster than individual Kumite. Loved competing, so much fun.
Interesting, I have never done that at a tourney, only in class or testing.
 

_Simon_

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I’ve been struggling with that lately. On the one hand, I’m can hardly hold my own in sparring classes and I can’t even hold a kick anywhere above my waist. I even have a hard time thinking that I could handle myself in a fight.

Also I took a long break from practicing Martial Arts from Middle School - College.

But a part of me would’ve like to. In fact I wish I would’ve as a teen. So yeah, I don’t know. Maybe.

Yeah fair enough mate, there's no pressure to do them, only if you really want to. They're not essential but can be very educative, and fun.

Maybe even wait a bit until you have more experience sparring and are more comfortable, then you can think about it :)
 

JR 137

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Very good comments. One note I would add is I like to think I can control my opponent when sparring. I know when I have gotten into someone head and have used it to my advantage before. It doesn't always work that way but I go in to each match believing I will be able to do it.
I agree with trying to control your opponent in sparring, but that’s not the control I was talking about. By not being able to control the competition, I simply meant that you have no idea how good or bad someone’s going to be. I could face the guy who doesn’t get scored on all day, or I could face the guy who’s at his 10th tournament and still hasn’t scored a single point yet. You face whoever they put in front of you. I wouldn’t do a victory dance if I shut out the guy who’s never scored a point before. I wouldn’t go home crying after losing to the guy who hasn’t been scored on in 5 consecutive tournaments.

Edit: I’ve faced both of those guys. According to one guy’s dojomates, I was the first guy to score against a guy who hadn’t been scored on in 5 consecutive tournaments (he beat me 3-2). I beat a guy in our organization who never scored a point in the 3 years or so I was competing 3-0. Actually, I’m pretty sure both of those were in the same tournament. It was about 20 years ago, so maybe I’m blending tournaments. It was definitely the same venue though.
 

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Another reason not to promote too quickly. There are learning advantages to competing but you do not get ready for tournaments by going to tournaments. That is where the dedicated class time and training comes in. Not until you get into the higher level tournaments will you find much value in knowing a lot about your competition.

I can see that as a reason not to promote, if tournaments are your goal. But tournaments aren't the primary goal of my school. If they were, we'd spend less time on punches and self defense, and we'd completely drop the Palgwe forms and start teaching the Taegeuks.

I was promoted quickly because of my ability to quickly learn the curriculum, and I pass that onto the students at my school. I understand the art better than I can do it, if that makes sense.
 

dvcochran

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I can see that as a reason not to promote, if tournaments are your goal. But tournaments aren't the primary goal of my school. If they were, we'd spend less time on punches and self defense, and we'd completely drop the Palgwe forms and start teaching the Taegeuks.

I was promoted quickly because of my ability to quickly learn the curriculum, and I pass that onto the students at my school. I understand the art better than I can do it, if that makes sense.
If you "quickly learn the curriculum" then why is it an issue when you go up against experienced competitors at a tournament? Time is simply a product of being good at your MA. There is no replacement for it. Yes, the muscle memory time can be compressed through continuous and accelerated practice but it is not a replacement as it does not allow the maturation process to take place.
 

skribs

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If you "quickly learn the curriculum" then why is it an issue when you go up against experienced competitors at a tournament? Time is simply a product of being good at your MA. There is no replacement for it. Yes, the muscle memory time can be compressed through continuous and accelerated practice but it is not a replacement as it does not allow the maturation process to take place.

Promotions in my school are built on technical understanding on the material and continued pursuit of improving your technique.

If it was about how good a fighter you are then all we'd do is tournaments and you'd only get promoted if you won.
 

JR 137

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If you "quickly learn the curriculum" then why is it an issue when you go up against experienced competitors at a tournament? Time is simply a product of being good at your MA. There is no replacement for it. Yes, the muscle memory time can be compressed through continuous and accelerated practice but it is not a replacement as it does not allow the maturation process to take place.
Exactly. There’s no substitute for experience.
 

JR 137

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Promotions in my school are built on technical understanding on the material and continued pursuit of improving your technique.

If it was about how good a fighter you are then all we'd do is tournaments and you'd only get promoted if you won.
I don’t know your school nor your teacher’s standards, so don’t take this as a criticism of any of that...

There also needs to be a standard of proficiency in the techniques/curriculum. Memorizing a form and required standardized stuff isn’t enough. Being able to walk through it isn’t enough. I’m not talking about perfection here, but there’s got to be a physical standard for each rank. If it wasn’t so, I could learn my organization’s 4th dan material within a few months and be promoted to that rank from my current 2nd kyu. Their curriculum is difficult, but I could memorize it and be able to walk through it in a few months if I really tried. It would look like crap and I’d get owned by every true 4th dan, but if all we’re looking at is a technical understanding and continued pursuit of improvement, then I’m good to go.

There’s no substitute for experience.
 

skribs

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I don’t know your school nor your teacher’s standards, so don’t take this as a criticism of any of that...

There also needs to be a standard of proficiency in the techniques/curriculum. Memorizing a form and required standardized stuff isn’t enough. Being able to walk through it isn’t enough. I’m not talking about perfection here, but there’s got to be a physical standard for each rank. If it wasn’t so, I could learn my organization’s 4th dan material within a few months and be promoted to that rank from my current 2nd kyu. Their curriculum is difficult, but I could memorize it and be able to walk through it in a few months if I really tried. It would look like crap and I’d get owned by every true 4th dan, but if all we’re looking at is a technical understanding and continued pursuit of improvement, then I’m good to go.

There’s no substitute for experience.

Ok, I was a little short in my description. There are time-in-grade requirements, of which I've met the minimum (hence: moving fast). There's also proficiency in the techniques.

But one thing to keep in mind is that my school ranges in age from 4 year olds to 64 year olds. Someone who starts in their 50s or 60s isn't going to have beautiful head-level spinning hook kicks. But they can teach the 8 and 10 year olds how to do it if they understand the body mechanics.

Now, I'm not in the 50-60 range. I'm 30. I can spar and make it look good. I just can't compete with 22 year olds who have been doing the art since they were little kids, are 8 inches taller than me, and have time to work out.
 

Buka

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Interesting, I have never done that at a tourney, only in class or testing.

It can be a tricky thing if you don't prepare your students properly. And I think it depends on how much you are competing. We had a fairly big school, and sometimes twenty or thirty of us would go to a tournament in order to support it, and to have fun of course. But most times it was just a half dozen of us. And we'd do it all the time, at least during the tournament season. There were no winter tournaments in New England due to probable inclement weather.

I mean, IF your students choose to compete, part of your duties as an instructor should be to prepare them for competition to the best of your abilities. I suppose if you only compete once in a great while it could feel funny if one of them bested you, but it shouldn't. If you're a skilled Martial Artist, and you're an instructor, you just did a great job as said instructor - you taught them well if they bested you.

My number one goal as an instructor was to make my students better Martial Artists than I was. And I was pretty good. I wanted them better in every aspect of martial Arts, including competing - for those that decided to compete.

Even if they best you, if you're competing regularly, you'll get them next week, or the week after. I was a lightweight. I'd say to the other lightweight guys from my dojo, "spread out when they're collecting your cards - and see you in the finals, fellas, keep your hands up.

NOTE - we also competed in kick boxing and full contact karate, but I would not allow anyone to compete with each other in any ring fights.

One of my guys was Gary. We were beginners at the same time. He was seven, I was twenty two. I started competing in points competition as a brown belt, he started competing in the "pee wee division". I moved up to black belt, he moved up to the "Junior" division. (I have no idea what they call anything now)

Years go by, we're both still competing. Suddenly he's eighteen and fighting men's Black Belt lightweight. My division. His first fight he draws a nationally ranked competitor from New York, Michael Sledge. Gary positively smokes him. But the judges won't call any of his points. Gary doesn't care, he continues to smoke him. I was fascinated. The spectators were going wild, really nuts. Sledge is fighting for his life, Gary looks like he's enjoying a day at the beach. Every black belt in the place is watching saying to each other "Uh oh, there's a new sheriff in town." And there was.

This was Gary in class. The eyes are not for the camera, it's how he looked every day he trained. The second he would bow into class his face lit up. And would stay that way until bowing out.

GaryClass.JPG


We also know it from the other end of the spectrum. We competed against our chief instructor all the time. For five years we trained under Billy Blanks, until he moved to L.A.. Many times Gary or I would win the lightweight division. Billy won the heavyweight in every tournament he ever fought in New England. We'd square off against him in the Grand Championship. And get out butts handed to us. And, man, we fought him hard, we wanted to beat him so bad. And he wouldn't want it any other way. But it was great fun. And nobody ever felt uncomfortable.

Competition should be for learning, but most of all it should be fun. I can't fathom anyone doing it more than a few times if they aren't enjoying it.

P.S. Gary will be retiring from Boston P.D next year after a long and illustrious career. I don't know where the time goes. I'll be visiting Boston in a couple months and be staying at his house. He told me he found some karate pictures from back in the day that I've never seen. That should be fun.
 

dvcochran

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It can be a tricky thing if you don't prepare your students properly. And I think it depends on how much you are competing. We had a fairly big school, and sometimes twenty or thirty of us would go to a tournament in order to support it, and to have fun of course. But most times it was just a half dozen of us. And we'd do it all the time, at least during the tournament season. There were no winter tournaments in New England due to probable inclement weather.

I mean, IF your students choose to compete, part of your duties as an instructor should be to prepare them for competition to the best of your abilities. I suppose if you only compete once in a great while it could feel funny if one of them bested you, but it shouldn't. If you're a skilled Martial Artist, and you're an instructor, you just did a great job as said instructor - you taught them well if they bested you.

My number one goal as an instructor was to make my students better Martial Artists than I was. And I was pretty good. I wanted them better in every aspect of martial Arts, including competing - for those that decided to compete.

Even if they best you, if you're competing regularly, you'll get them next week, or the week after. I was a lightweight. I'd say to the other lightweight guys from my dojo, "spread out when they're collecting your cards - and see you in the finals, fellas, keep your hands up.

NOTE - we also competed in kick boxing and full contact karate, but I would not allow anyone to compete with each other in any ring fights.

One of my guys was Gary. We were beginners at the same time. He was seven, I was twenty two. I started competing in points competition as a brown belt, he started competing in the "pee wee division". I moved up to black belt, he moved up to the "Junior" division. (I have no idea what they call anything now)

Years go by, we're both still competing. Suddenly he's eighteen and fighting men's Black Belt lightweight. My division. His first fight he draws a nationally ranked competitor from New York, Michael Sledge. Gary positively smokes him. But the judges won't call any of his points. Gary doesn't care, he continues to smoke him. I was fascinated. The spectators were going wild, really nuts. Sledge is fighting for his life, Gary looks like he's enjoying a day at the beach. Every black belt in the place is watching saying to each other "Uh oh, there's a new sheriff in town." And there was.

This was Gary in class. The eyes are not for the camera, it's how he looked every day he trained. The second he would bow into class his face lit up. And would stay that way until bowing out.

View attachment 21721

We also know it from the other end of the spectrum. We competed against our chief instructor all the time. For five years we trained under Billy Blanks, until he moved to L.A.. Many times Gary or I would win the lightweight division. Billy won the heavyweight in every tournament he ever fought in New England. We'd square off against him in the Grand Championship. And get out butts handed to us. And, man, we fought him hard, we wanted to beat him so bad. And he wouldn't want it any other way. But it was great fun. And nobody ever felt uncomfortable.

Competition should be for learning, but most of all it should be fun. I can't fathom anyone doing it more than a few times if they aren't enjoying it.

P.S. Gary will be retiring from Boston P.D next year after a long and illustrious career. I don't know where the time goes. I'll be visiting Boston in a couple months and be staying at his house. He told me he found some karate pictures from back in the day that I've never seen. That should be fun.

A truly fantastic story. Exactly the way a Martial Family should be. People who don't want to compete against whoever is across from them tarnish need more prep time before they go to a tournament. Of course we are not going to win every match but I never went into the ring planning on 2nd place. Tournaments are great fun. Your class environment describes exactly how an instructor should be with their students regarding tourney's or any venue for that matter. I can only believe the way your environment was/is only raised the level or respect and made teaching easier and that much more fun. Just love it.
 

dvcochran

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I don’t know your school nor your teacher’s standards, so don’t take this as a criticism of any of that...

There also needs to be a standard of proficiency in the techniques/curriculum. Memorizing a form and required standardized stuff isn’t enough. Being able to walk through it isn’t enough. I’m not talking about perfection here, but there’s got to be a physical standard for each rank. If it wasn’t so, I could learn my organization’s 4th dan material within a few months and be promoted to that rank from my current 2nd kyu. Their curriculum is difficult, but I could memorize it and be able to walk through it in a few months if I really tried. It would look like crap and I’d get owned by every true 4th dan, but if all we’re looking at is a technical understanding and continued pursuit of improvement, then I’m good to go.

There’s no substitute for experience.
I would also add that there should be a mental/emotional component for each testing that is much harder for instructors to measure. But I know when I see the effort from someone beyond just being able to go through the moves correctly. It is esoteric and is also part of the time component of MA, especially for those who teach. There is a big difference between effort and expectation.
 

dvcochran

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Promotions in my school are built on technical understanding on the material and continued pursuit of improving your technique.

If it was about how good a fighter you are then all we'd do is tournaments and you'd only get promoted if you won.
I think we just crossed over into the martial sport arena.
 

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