What You Need to Know About Tournaments
There is a tournament coming up. There is always a tournament coming up. We have one on average every six weeks. But why do we compete? What is the purpose and what are the benefits of competition? Besides being fun, tournaments help us to grow by challenging ourselves through competition.
Competition gives us a chance to get together and compare notes, all while having fun and seeing old friends while making new ones.
We get to see friends from our school who train at different locations; and we see friends from other schools, while making new ones.
Competition brings out the best in us. I love seeing my students who have been competing for awhile go up to someone who they usually end up sparring against and shake hands and say hi to each other.
We are competing against each other, but a better way to look at a tournament is that we are hanging out, meeting people, and competing against ourselves. How much have you improved since the last tournament?
We never really loose when it comes to Martial Arts, we either win and learn or simply learn. How can we get better if we consistently beat everyone we spar against, or always have the top scoring form?
Tournaments today are far different from the tournaments back when I was a kid and have always varied from tournament to tournament. Tournaments are hosted by an Instructor and their school and generally the rules are similar but can vary. One must always read the rules when entering a tournament.
We stick by the ITF (International Taekwondo Federation) standard where in regards to the sparring division, all hits above the belt to the body or head (close to the head for color belts and children) are one point, first to three or most points after two minutes wins. I've been to some tournaments where punches were one point, kicks were two, and jump kicks were three. Some tournaments spar to five points and have three minute rounds. I've even been to tournaments where kicking to the groin was a point (cups were required).
WTF (World Taekwondo Federation) does not allow punches to the head. Some tournaments are specific to one style and has just a few divisions while Open Tournaments have all styles and have many divisions. The Capital Classic, for example, which is held in Washington D.C. is one of the country's largest National Championships has tons of divisions and is two days long, compared to Kwan Jang Nim (Grand Master) Summers' Association school tournaments which only has three divisions (Weapons, Forms, and Sparring) and only last a few hours.
Forms divisions have always been basically the same, but again it depends on whether it's a style specific tournament or an open tournament. You get more points at Karate tournaments if you keyup more and have a serious intensity, while Kung-Fu tournaments are all about how flashy you can be. ITF (International Taekwondo Federation) tournaments are primarily focused on proper technique.
A competitor is competing not against others but against themselves.
Did they do their best?
Even if a competitor doesn't place, as long as they did their best, then in my book they win.
In the forms division you present your best and then place it in the hands of the judges. The judge has his own way of judging. When it comes to the sparring division, you don't leave it in the hands of the judges, you score or get scored on. Competitors need to stay sharp and clean with their techniques, rely on their training and do their best.
When I was a child we were allowed to use ridge hands, knife hands, and sweeps. If an opponent was on the ground we had three seconds to score on them. Times have changed because competitors kept getting hurt because competitors today do not have sharp, clean, and precise techniques that require great self control. That's why in KwanJang-Nim's tournaments there is no contact to the head for color belts and children. We are teaching self-control.
The next tournament is on May 14th at Master Berry's school of Taekwondo in Mooresville, NC. (Registration is due by Wednesday May 11th.) Master Berry is one of Kwan Jang Nim's students and is a sixth degree black belt and has the finest school in Mooresville. This is their anniversary tournament honoring the opening of their school.
Let's go represent ourselves as the honorable and respectful martial artist that we are! Asa!