Nervous about entering tournament?

Tournament! The very word seems to strike fear into the hearts and minds of many people. But listen up people, it really isn’t that bad…

I’m writing this short article specially for all you abstainers, and I will be the first one to put my hands up and say “Guilty m’lud!”, as I hadn’t competed for about 3 years till the 9th of May. My excuse was a continuing back problem and stress - ha ha, some excuse eh?! I believe that we learn from every aspect of our training, so recent set backs in my karate progress made me decide to get back in there and compete.

But enough about me, what about you? Let me just lay down some facts about tournament as I see it:

Yes, tournament is a bit daunting at first, and probably every time for some people, but the more you enter, the more it becomes a normal part of your karate training. Experience is everything in life and karate! Overcoming your fears and realising your dreams. Success, however small is still success. Whether it’s just getting through your kata without making mistakes, or actually winning a medal! On a personal level I think these are equal achievements; the first obviously being a step towards the last, but they both make you feel good about yourself!

A common excuse people give for not entering tournament is, “I’m not good enough.” How do you know if you’ve never tried? A lot of the time, it’s the students that people deem average, who enter tournament and succeed! Why? Obviously it’s the kick in the pants they needed to find themselves and recognize their true potential! They may have a yellow, or green or red belt ability, but they have a black belt’s mental attitude. In spite of their nerves and self-doubt, they took the chance, and had the guts to step up to the line, and they got the rewards they deserved.

Although it happens rarely now, there have been occasions when students entered tournament only to discover that there were only two or three competitors in their group. This obviously means that they are guaranteed a medal for just turning up - unless they manage to get themselves disqualified for some reason! But what sort of challenge is this for them if it happens every time they enter!

Now I’ve overheard people who have not entered, say things like, “I’m better than him or her!” Are you? So why didn’t you enter and prove it! Put up or shut up!

As we all know, karate training is a journey of the mind as well as the body. Fear of failing or looking silly is like a roadblock of the mind! Your body may be more than capable of leaping over a big hurdle, but without the mental attitude you never will! At the end of the day, what does it really matter if you mess up your kata in tournament? Who apart from you will care the day after, let alone months or years in the future?

Me!? How did I do? Well, after not competing for 3 years, being ill for most of this year, and having attended just two tournament classes; I received a bronze in kumite! I felt with a bit more fitness I could have got a silver. At the age of 41, I’m chuffed to bits!

So what are you waiting for…

Written by sensei Michael Edwards R18