4 Reasons Tournaments Rock (for Non-Competitive People)
I'm not a tournament sort of person.
Oh sure, I've competed in tournaments - three, now - and I've placed in two out of the three. That's not too shabby considering that forms and tournaments really just isn't my thing (and I didn't start competing in tournaments at all until I was black belt rank, which shows you I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer).
It's not that I mind competitiveness - I actually thrive on it, personally, being an outgoing, sporty kind of person (that's right, I'm sporty AND huge raging nerd - you can be both, y'know). I think it can get out of hand for some people, sure, but there's nothing wrong with healthy competitiveness.
I just don't feel the need to compete on a personal level in the martial arts. That's partially because of my style, but also... well, nobody IS me, and it's difficult to find other stubby middle aged dumpy people to compare myself to in the martial arts world. So I'm sorta "meh" on martial arts competition in general.
I think there's a lot of benefits that a good tournament can bring for non-competitive people (I'm surrounded by those, so I know y'all quite well).
Mind you, I think these benefits mostly hold for smaller tournaments, not the huge city-wide open tournaments featuring screaming people and parents getting into fistfights with each other and judges over the scoring and with spectators yelling mean things at the competitors.
If you like that sort of thing, more power to you. But I'm not going to those.
Nope, let's talk about the organizational tournaments, style tournaments, smaller local martial arts organization open tournaments, that sort of thing. These things typically have four to six rings at most. Here's some reasons those of you out there who aren't terribly competitive might want to participate in martial arts tournaments.
CONNECT WITH THE LARGER MARTIAL ARTS COMMUNITY
What I do is pretty exotic to these karate and taekwondo people I usually see at local tournaments. What's cool is that by attending these things and showing what we do, we get more interest in my style (which is, for most people, an add-on to their base style). People will ask me questions, they'll want to pick up a thing or two, they will seem pleased that they now have a connection and a resource for this stuff if they want it.
It puts my school and style in context with a larger local group, and we make a lot of friendships as a result. It's nice to have friends in other schools and styles for a variety of reasons. It makes our martial arts experience richer.
FINE TUNING YOUR OWN GAME
It sucks to work really hard for a tournament, go, and not win anything. It double-sucks when you're a kid. If you're not the competitive sort, you have to wonder, well, heck, what's the point, then?
Preparation for a tournament gives you an extra incentive to fine-tune your material. To really get your stances perfect, your motions crisp, or your flow smooth and powerful. Competition acts as the whetstone to the knife of your kata, weapons, or sparring skills. The pressure of preparation and competition helps you get motivated to do that fine work.
BONDING WITH YOUR FELLOW STUDENTS
There's nothing better then getting out of a ring after competing than having friends and fellow students make nice supportive comments. It really makes you feel like part of a group.
Additionally, it's fun to be on the sidelines, cheering your fellow students on.
Either way, you create closer friendships and relationships with your fellow students, which makes your training that much better. One aspect of martial arts training that we never really talk about are the friendships we make, especially within our own schools. Participation in tournaments helps those friendships along.
LEARNING FROM WATCHING OTHER COMPETITORS
Sitting on the sidelines at a competition allows you to watch and see a lot of great stuff from people working hard to be very good at what they do. It's difficult to find another environment where there's so much hard work and excellence in such a small place.
So while you're waiting, there's no reason you can't get some good ideas from your fellow competitors to improve your own game, right?
So there you go, four reasons why non-competitive people should try a martial arts tournament. Do you have any advice for tournaments? Why should people participate? Let me know in the comments!