At some point in your martial arts journey, you’ve probably wondered where exactly you stand in comparison to your teammates. Are you doing better? Worse? If so, what can you do to improve your standing? In martial arts, the best way to solve these problems are through competition.
For those who have never fought or competed before, the first time can be quite scary and intimidating. Many people choose to avoid competition altogether rather than face these fears. However, for many martial artists, competition becomes one of the defining moments of their journey. It is a true test of mental and physical strength.
Here are the ten benefits of competing:
1) You’ll discover how you work under pressure.
Regular training in the gym involves sparring with your teammates, trying to bring out the best in one another. When you are competing, all you are responsible for is yourself and the way you perform. You’ll find yourself in front of a crowd that’s cheering (or booing) for you. Fighting can evoke many emotions; even the most elite athletes can go from relishing the excitement of being watched by a crowd to hating every single moment of it. By competing, you’ll learn how to control your emotions under pressure.
2) Competition is a true test of your skills.
You’ve attended countless classes, drilled for hours at a time, perfected your techniques, built strength and flexibility—why not put all that to the test? A fight can gauge where you are in terms of technique and athletic ability. It can also test whether or not you have the mental strength to push through tough times. It is a great way to learn where your weaknesses lie so that you can begin working to improve them.
3) You’ll meet people with common interests.
When you compete, you’ll meet other competitors who have the same interest in martial arts. Take advantage of meeting new people and making new friends. Who knows, you might be invited to drop by their gym the next time you’re in the area!
4) There’s nothing like that competition rush!
There is no other feeling like stepping into the ring for the first time. It’s sensory overload; battling your nerves with a crowd watching along is definitely unforgettable. Whether you win or lose, there’s nothing quite like the experience of competing!
5) You’ll gain self-confidence.
Putting yourself out there isn’t the easiest thing in the world, and anyone who is willing to step up and compete deserves respect. By competing, you are showing the world that you believe in yourself and your skills. It also proves that you are okay with whatever the outcome may be. You know that win or lose, you have learned something from this experience.
6) If it happens, you can learn from your losses.
So you’ve dedicated every single waking hour to preparing for your competition. You’ve dieted so that you can make weight, you’ve drilled your techniques for hours and hours, you’ve started lifting weights so you can get stronger, and you’ve been putting in extra sparring time. You’ve done all that you possibly can to win, but unfortunately, someone else’s hand is raised instead of yours. Instead of being angry, look at the bright side of the experience. Ask your coach about the mistakes you made and analyze them together. Work on these mistakes and make sure they never happen again. In the end, you will learn far more from your losses than you ever will from your victories.
7) Because it helps you get over the fear of competing and makes you want to compete more.
Once you’ve experienced the nerves and jitters of your first competition, the next one won’t be as bad. You’ll know how to prepare better, and fix your game plan based on the strengths and weaknesses you saw in your last competition. For athletes who compete all the time, they know that regular sparring sessions with teammates just can’t mimic the adrenalin and experience of competition.
8) Because it feels great to win!
After all the hard work, preparation, and pre-competition jitters—you’ve finally reached your ultimate goal. You’ve competed, given it your all, and emerged victorious! There is no greater feeling than having your arm raised in victory. You’ve put your blood, sweat and tears into your sport, so why not take recognition and appreciation for it?
9) It gives you a goal to aim for.
At one point or another, we feel like we have reached the pinnacle of our martial arts journey. We may wonder, “What else is there to aim for, I’ve already achieved all that I can.” Or what if we feel like we aren’t progressing, or that we’re just stuck in our boring workout routines? Competition may be the solution to these problems. By acknowledging that you want to compete, it means that you have set a new goal for yourself to achieve. Competing will truly put your skills to the test and push you out of your comfort zone! Get uncomfortable!
10) It’s a shortcut to success.
The feeling you get from preparing for competition is very different from what you experience during regular training. It is intense, nerve wracking, and it requires more mental strength than anything you’ve ever done. This mindset is something that you develop from competition-specific training that you can apply to all areas of your regular training. Because you’ve conditioned yourself to do your best, you won’t want to settle for anything less. You’ll keep on striving to be the best you can be, and this is the key to success!
There are so many reasons why you should compete and very few reasons why you shouldn’t. It’s not just about winning trophies and medals; it is about you evolving into the best version of yourself possible. So go on, compete, and experience all the benefits a competition can bring to your martial arts journey. Try out for your gym’s competition team and prove to yourself and others that you’re more than capable of doing anything you’ve set your mind on.
Remember—win or lose; the journey is always a learning experience.