Local events are a great place to start competition.

Training in a martial arts school is probably enough for most people who get involved in the martial arts. Practicing kicks and punches, memorizing routines and self-defense techniques and the camaraderie of classmates is sufficient. But there are also a lot of people who want more out of their martial arts’ training and participating in sport karate competition is the key. Most states and regions have some kind of league or circuit where people can get their feet wet and test the waters in sport karate competition.

Local and regional events are great for new and seasoned competitors and here is why:

1. Testing Your Skills: Whether you are just starting or have been competing for years, using your techniques at a tournament is a lot different than training in your martial arts school. At the school you are comfortable but at a tournament, you are under pressure to perform and the situation is not as predictable. You are also typically being judged by people who are outside of your normal training circle.

A local tournament is a great place to try a new technique, determine what you need to be fully warmed up and check out whether your equipment is everything it is cracked up to be.

2. Making Friends: Sport karate is definitely a great way to make lots of new friends who have something in common with you. Of course people have friends in their own school but once you go to a few tournaments, you will start to see some of the same people in your division and you will soon make friends that could be friends for a lifetime.

3. Getting Noticed: Every locale has at a few competitors who compete not only at the local level but also at the national or world level. Those people may compete, judge or just wander around the event. These people definitely know people and know what good performances look like. Don’t be surprised if your hard work pays off with a top competitor jumping in to help coach you or give you a few competition tips. It might even be the first step to getting picked up by a major team.

4. Learning New Things: Working out only in your martial arts school is great but when you go to a tournament, you get to see people from other styles and schools which can help enhance your training. Seeing other ways that forms, kicks, punches and blocks are performed can expand horizons and help make your own techniques more effective.

5. Building Confidence: Performing in front of others is nerve-wracking. Going to local tournaments to compete helps build confidence not only in competition but in all aspects of life. At a tournament, you have to speak in front of strangers which is great for public speaking. At a tournament, competitors have to remember a difficult series of moves for forms and weapons divisions and perform them under pressure. In sparring, competitors have to think on their feet and react appropriately to unpredictable moves by an opponent.

Competing at local tournaments is a great way to start competing and prepare to move up to a regional or national level of competition. And if a competitor already competes at a high level, competing periodically at local tournaments help enhance and improve skills.

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