How Students Benefit From Competitions
Taekwon-Do students are often afraid to enter their first tournament, but the benefits cannot be understated. We encourage all students at all levels to participate in tournament competition for a variety of reasons, but here are 10 benefits all martial artists receive for challenging themselves to compete:
1. Test Your Skills
Tournament competition is an opportunity to take your training and put it to the test. Competition tests your physical fitness, your technique, your stamina, your timing, your mental strength, and your determination in ways our regular training doesn’t. Just like in a grading, tournaments offer an opportunity to show that our training has made a real difference in our ability level.
2. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
When we train in class, we get comfortable. We are comfortable with our training floor, our instructors, our peers and our sparring partners. Competing in a tournament – be it patterns or sparring, puts us in a new environment where we’re forced to perform in front of new eyes, in a new room with people we don’t know. It’s this act of stepping out of our comfort zone that pushes us to work that harder.
3. Challenge Yourself Against New Opponents
When we continue to spar with the same opponents as we do in our classes – we learn how people move, what techniques they throw the most and where their weaknesses are. We learn to adapt to each of our opponents and anticipate their moves. We know who we could win against and who makes us nervous. When we step out on the competition floor we have no such insight. It’s a true test of skill against an unknown competitor – an opportunity to gain a new perspective and find out how sharp our instincts really are when we have to think on our feet.
4. Overcome Your Fears
Martial artists must learn to stay calm in stressful situations. Tournament competition can be scary. Sometimes it can cause some significant adrenaline surges we need to take control of and learn to channel into useful energy. Learning to stay focused and relaxed, lower our heart rate and breathing rate under stress in order to be able to perform at the highest level is a skill that is only developed over many opportunities to try it in practice.
5. Build Confidence
Since tournaments often break down their competitors into relatively small fields by age, gender and belt level, competitors get a chance to see how they really stack up against others their size, age and grade. By comparing yourself to others on a more level playing field, you can really see that you are gaining new skills over time. Furthermore, whether you win or lose in sparring, one thing is virtually guaranteed: you will finish your round feeling empowered knowing that you did what you set out to do and came out relatively unscathed.
6. Build Team Spirit
Tournaments give you a chance to grow closer to your peers. When a club travels together, competes together and spends a day in close contact with one another, cheering for one another and giving hugs and high-fives for performance and effort, the natural outflow is a more cohesive team spirit. Everyone wants to feel like they belong. Martial arts – and tournament competition specifically – gives participants that opportunity to be with like-minded people who share the love of the art.
7. Build Character
Winning and losing is part of any competition; and healthy competition is good for you. It creates opportunity to build mental strength and determination but it also offers a chance to learn humility. Compete often enough and you will see that there will always be someone who is a stronger competitor than you are. Tournaments give you the opportunity to test your skills, recognise your weaknesses and congratulate others for their successes regardless of if you win or lose.
8. Get Motivated Watching Top Level Competitors
When you’re moving up through the belt ranks, watching top level black belt competitors can be very inspiring. It motivates you to want to not only continue your training but to take it up a notch and focus more on areas where maybe you see room for improvement: conditioning, flexibility, speed, accuracy, self-control or power.
9. Give Yourself a Short Term Goal
Registering for a tournament can help shift your focus towards preparation in advance. As that date draws near, you can use it as a short-term goal to seek to improve your focus on your training. It’s an excellent motivator for ensuring those patterns don’t get overlooked at home, workouts don’t get skipped and class attendance remains regular.
10. Have Fun
Tournaments are fun… and you might just win a medal.