Benefits of Competing in Martial Arts Tournaments


Entering a martial arts tournament can be intimidating for both new and experienced karate practitioners. Fears of the unknown, failure and potential injury can prevent people from competing and testing their skills against their peers. However, there are many benefits to participating in tournaments and these benefits extend to life outside the dojo.

  1. Overcoming Fear

Competitors train themselves to remain calm in spite of nervousness and anxiety. Instructors will tell you to break down a kata into individual techniques and to focus on performing each technique to the best of their ability while ignoring your surroundings. In sparring, you must remain calm, analytical, and trust the muscle memory that developed through months of practice before the competition.  

By participating in tournaments, you’ll learn the importance of: preparation, practice, memorization, focus, and setting a series of smaller, achievable goals in order to complete a large task.

  1. Respect

After putting in hours of training, going through the anxiety of competing, and working through the adrenaline rush, you’re often left exhausted and emotional. It’s not uncommon to see participants express anger, disappointment and frustration after receiving their results. 

Throughout the emotional whirlwind that comes with competing, one thing remains constant: all competitors, win or lose, must show respect for each other, the judges, and themselves. No matter how emotional you are you shake hands, congratulate others, cheer on your fellow competitors. One of the hardest things to learn is to be humble after a big win, and to remain positive after a loss. But, the respect you give others will be shown to you in return. 

  1. Handling Disappointment

Throughout your competitive career, it’s inevitable that you’ll experience disappointment at some point. It’s important to note that martial arts competitions are about achieving your personal goals, not simply winning a medal. It’s completely possible to win first place but be unsatisfied with your performance, or to finish last and achieve a personal best.

We encourage our students to acknowledge any negative feelings because we don’t believe in telling them to “shrug it off”. Instead, we ask them to identify the cause of their disappointment and create an achievable plan that we can work on together so they can improve for the next tournament. Disappointment is a crushing feeling but, with encouragement and support, it can be the catalyst for great future achievements. 

  1. Community Building

From personal experience, we can say that the martial arts community in Western Canada is very open, friendly and supportive. After competing in the open circuit for years, we’ve come to know the people in our divisions, and made friends with students and teachers from other schools. These friendships have enriched our lives and we are so thankful for their camaraderie. 

In a tournament environment, you are surrounded by fellow competitors that have first hand knowledge of the challenges you face as a martial artist. By building friendly relationships with your competitors, you’ll find that they’ll offer valuable advice that can help guide you on your martial arts journey and improve your competitive performance. The bond between martial artists is a unique one as it is forged through mutual understanding, brotherhood and shared passion.

Though it can be intimidating, participating in martial arts competitions will yield benefits that will strengthen your character and help you achieve your goals both in and out of the dojo.