The last few months have been busy with martial arts tournaments all over the state. Arrowhead has had a great showing at the tournaments with some newbies and some tried and true students participating. Everyone has done a fantastic job!
So why compete in a tournament? What does it add to your training? A martial arts tournament has many benefits for your training including seeing different styles of arts, different interpretations of your art, pushing you to the next level, and learning from the nuances of competition.
Tournaments are a great place to see the different martial arts that are taught in your area. In this area most tournaments are "open" tournaments meaning that all martial arts are invited. They are not specific to one style. We practice ITF Tae Kwon Do but competitors will participate from WTF Tae Kwon Do, and different styles of Karate. Some martial arts tournaments offer weapons, or power breaking, Brazilian jujitsu, MMA or grappling.
Many times the students will say "WOW! That is so cool!" or "We didn't learn that form that way." It allows for a discussion on why we teach the way we do and a better understanding of why they are called martial "arts." The students will hopefully take home some greater understanding of why the instructors focus on different aspects of training.
They will begin to understand how running laps helps with the endurance they will need for a sparring match. "But it is only a minute and a half" - well it is much different sparring in a tournament then when you are sparring a buddy from class. New moves are seen, and they have to learn to think on their feet to try to counter - not to mention the adrenaline flowing through your body. This hopefully brings the training to the next level which is to take what you have learned and put it together in a different way.
Tournaments also teach the nuances of competition. While they may always be the "winner" in class or the student that thinks they are really good at their form, they may find that judges see it a different way. They may be the top of their division in one tournament but be second or third at another. It is a good lesson to learn and it is a great learning tool for the instructor.
Many students have no desire to participate in a martial arts tournament. They should be encouraged to attend as an audience member or assistant to the participants so they can still have some benefit from the experience.
I would encourage all students to compete or at the very least attend a tournament being held in your area. You may be surprised at what you see.