So you hate tournaments huh…

For many years I have ran into people that do martial arts who absolutely hate tournaments. They speak ill about them and proclaim them to be “destroying” the martial arts. I have always held my tongue and just smile but after reading many blog posts and other things over the past 10 years it is time to speak what’s on my mind.

Martial Arts tournaments come in all shapes and sizes…literally. There are small local events and then there are world level championships. Practically every art has some sort of competition available to it from Karate to Aikido, Judo to BJJ and even Kobudo to Kendo. Even the full contact versions of the arts have competitions like Kickboxing and MMA. Now that we understand just about every single martial art has a competitive aspects to it let me address what I feel is the truth of the people who hate tournaments…

Are you ready? Here we go…and no I will not be politically correct…

You hate tournaments because you can’t win at them. Yes, I stated the correctly…I did not stutter. With the exception of very few people I have met who stated negatively towards tournaments every one of them have tried competing and sucked at it. So rather than go back to their school, train harder, try harder they just quit. These types would rather sit around and try to justify their inability to win by saying things like “My art is too deadly for tournaments”, “tournaments are just a game of tag” and “I was always disqualified because I fight for real”…among others. Yes I have heard it all, from all sorts of people…and you are all full of it.

Let me share a story if I may (and you care to read on)…

About 11 years ago I met a guy who said many of the things above. He actually showed up at a tournament wearing “grand master pooh bah” belt and uniform with at least 20 patches on it. He carried on the entire day barking at every one and from his actions he had no idea what he was doing. After listening to him throw insults around for half the day I got sick of it and walked up to him, handed a flier for another event in three weeks and said “Put your money where you mouth is”. He was instantly insulted and felt the need to “justify” why tournaments suck. My response was “Then why are you here?” to which I got no reply. So, definitely out of character for me a bit, I stated “I will be at that event. I will compete in the Master’s division for weapons, kata and kumite. I expect to see you there and competing so I can see first hand how great you are” and then I walked away.

Three weeks came and I show up at the event. To my surprise so did he. I asked him if he was registered to compete and he said only in fighting. I replied with you had something negative to say about all aspects of tournaments so why no compete in weapons and kata too since you are “so good”. To my surprise he agreed. It was clear he thought he was going to teach me a lesson. Weapons came and went, I won. Kata came and went, I won…he didn’t place at all and was very vocal about blaming his loss on the judges. After most of the other divisions were done it was Kumite time. There were four in my division but I made sure I got to fight him first by begging to be paired up with him. He barely bowed and when they said go he came right at me thinking he was going “school” me. Unfortunately for him he was no match for my side kick which knocked him on his butt. Needless to say, and to save time in this blog, I beat him 5 to nothing and even toyed with him a lot.

After the event was over I overheard him saying how he was ripped off by the judges and how he had hit me three times. So I walked right up to him and said let’s do it again at next month’s event. He then proceed to attempt to tell me how, if it’d been a real fight, he would have killed me to which I retorted “How? You couldn’t even handle my side kick and whined that I “hit you too hard””. Then I walked away. The next event came and no sign of him, and the one after that and so on. It wouldn’t be until about three years later that I would see him at another event. Low and behold he showed up wearing a plain black belt and plain Gi. He registered to compete in the 1st to 3rd dan black belt division for the old guys. When he saw me he knew what was coming…I told the promoter he was lying and that I had competed against him in the master division a few years back. He left the tournament and I have never seen him again.

Ok, now that the story is over, the point is that the majority of people I hear talk negatively about events just don’t have the balls to compete in them because they are afraid of losing or not living up to their hype. If you are reading this and you are getting mad about it you just might be one of them. Think about all the excuses, all the things you have said to avoid competing and then compare that to how many times you have tried, how hard you have trained and how many times you tried to win. If your excuses and negative banter outweigh your competitive record (which I am willing to bet it does) then you are just scared. Scared to lose face, scared to lose in front of your students and even scared that you might actually enjoy competing.

If you don’t agree with me that’s great but know this is how I see you, how I truly feel and what I think because, unlike those sitting around complaining about tournaments, I am out there testing myself, training hard, trying to get better and be the change I want to see to make tournaments better. I’m not afraid of losing, of screwing up or failing in front of my students or anyone else. So if you ever meet me know that your complaining will be falling on deaf ears because I respect action…not rhetoric. Train hard, be the change you want to see and stop whining…step up and be the black belt!

PS. I have competed in everything from point tournaments to knockdown ones, kickboxing to no holds barred, judo to jujitsu…each one you learn a lot at and it just helps to improve you…but that is just me 🙂

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