Every year – around the Summer and Winter Championship Tournaments – I get asked the same question: “Why is it such a big deal to compete in the tournament?”

I know I felt the same way when I was a student coming up through the ranks, and I asked my instructors the same question.  The answer I received back was powerful in the simplicity and truth…

We compete to learn something about ourselves.  We compete to see how well we can perform.  We compete to see how we handle adversity and challenges. I had a department head and Gunnery Sergeant in the Marines who was riding me mercilessly as a brand-new Marine that was new to the fleet, tell me; “Huff, you don’t learn anything when things are going smoothly and everything is easy.  You learn and grow when things are TOUGH.”

In this instance, the words “tough” and “challenging” are interchangeable.  Challenging means it pushes you out of your comfort zone and gets you using your physical, mental and emotional muscles in ways you haven’t used before, or longer and harder than you have pushed yourself before.

When you rise to the challenge of competition, you don’t get just an experience for a short moment; for some, the payoff lasts years after the event.

For Children, It’s About Learning to Compete

Kids learn best by having fun, so properly framing competition as another fun way to learn and do martial arts is important.  Competition in a fun environment also makes it easier for children to absorb lessons on winning, how to stay focused, how to handle it when things don’t go the way you expected and more.

One of the biggest payoffs is that children learn how to function and perform in front of other people.

It is said that public speaking is the #1 fear of most adults, right after dying; competing for years in martial arts tournaments will help children develop strong mental images and beliefs of what they are capable of, and help reduce fear of speaking or performing.

By learning how competition works, how to deal with all the situations and circumstances that go along with competition and having fun while competing in front of others, children begin to develop a solid foundation for life.

For Teens, It’s About Martial Arts Values and Thrill of Competition

Teens want to be liked; they want to stand out, have an identity and be their own person, but they don’t want to be so different that they are ostracized or isolated.

Competition allows teens to get a good sense of themselves; they want to see “how good they are” and feel a payoff from all their hard work. The fact that they can share this with their friends that may or may not be involved in the martial arts is an added bonus, as they get recognition for who they are and what they are accomplishing.

As an added bonus for the parents of teens, competition gives teens something that is necessary for their further development into young adults and that is martial arts values, goals and structure.

Martial arts values like respect, discipline and humility are all enforced and part of the culture of competition, as is goal-setting.  If you know you are going to be competing on a certain date, you know what you have to do to be ready to perform when the time comes.  These things together offer needed structure for teens and allows them to thrive not only in competition, but in life.

For Adults, It is About Learning More About Yourself and Staying Young

Face it; as we get older, it gets harder and harder for us to find things that get – and keep – the juices flowing.

I am sure you have heard the term, “mid-life crisis”; what is a mid-life crisis, other than an adult feeling as if they need a challenge, something new to inspire them, scare them, push themselves to something bigger and better?

While there are many instances of how people can negatively or dangerously look for something to push themselves, martial arts competition and training are a safe, positive way to challenge yourself to be better; to see what you are capable of.

There is Never a Perfect Time – You Are Never Ready – but You Are Always Ready Enough

It seems like no matter what the subject, it is very easy to say, “I am not ready yet; just a little bit more time, and…”

I know I have said this in the past about a great many things, but the secret to this fear was revealed to me by a professional musician and guitar player, who was talking me into performing live in a band.

I knew in my heart that as a band, we weren’t ready; there were a million little things that needed more time and practice.  While I wanted to perform live, I knew we weren’t where we needed to be musically.

Marvin looked me in the eye and said, “You are never ready – but you are always ready enough.  Get out there and DO IT; you will get better faster than you ever thought possible if you just force yourself to get out there and perform.”

He was right; we did perform shortly afterwards, and we did much better than any of us in the band expected.

That is a key secret to your martial arts development: the more you compete and push yourself, the better you will become – and faster than you thought possible.

Speaking of “it’s never too late” – its’ not too late for you to register for the Z-Ultimate Summer National Tournament; simply click here to register for the tournament or see your instructor.

Good luck, and see you at the tournament Sunday, June 3rd at the Bren Event Center at UCI in Irvine, CA.

 

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