by Sensei Neil Prime
November, 1993

Karate tournaments can be a very enjoyable part of your training if you enter them with theappropriate attitude.

If you enter a tournament with the notion of leaving with two first place trophies you will likelybe disappointed. If you enter a tournament with the frame of mind that you are going to giveyour best performance no matter what the outcome is, you will probably be satisfied no matterwhere you place in the standings. You should treat each tournament as you would a regularweekly workout and try to learn from them. Yes, it is nice to win a trophy for your efforts, butif you don't understand how or why you placed so well that particular day, chances are a repeatperformance will become very difficult. If you end up 10th in a 10 person division but you gaveit your all, you should be equally proud of yourself had you come in first.

Tournament competition can also be more of a mental exercise than a physical debut. If youshow confidence and poise your chances of doing well will be much greater than if you walk intothe ring with your head dropped down and your shoulders hunched forward. Remember everybody is nervous when they compete; some people hide it better than others. You should usethat nervous adrenalin to drive yourself forward instead of as an excuse to fall back upon.

When competing in Kata you must try to take your time and breath properly through the wholeroutine. A rushed Kata will be sloppy and it will look like you are only trying to finish so youcan get out of the ring. Kata can be most enjoyable if you show the judges what you knowinstead of showing them that you are unsure what the next move is. Remember: do a Kata thatyou know well and don't have to think about. It will only hurt your score if you do what thinkis a nicer looking Kata but you really don't know it very well.

When competing in Kumite you will very often come across an opponent you have never foughtbefore. Instead of worrying about how big or strong or fast he/she is try to have the attitude: thisperson hasn't seen what I've got , so I'm going to beat them to the punch. Try immediately toget the upper hand on your opponent as the aggressor usually wins if you stay in focus. Gettinga point is one thing, but controlling the fight is another.

A common mistake made by karateka is stopping when you "think" you've scored or "think" you've been scored upon. I think we've all seen and done this. Don't ever stop until you hearthe centre referee, and when Yame (stop) is called don't drop your guard until you are certainyour opponent has stopped accidents can happen even in a controlled environment.

Most important of all when competing is sportsmanship. Show respect for your fellowcompetitors and to your judges. Don't believe the old story about nice guys finish last. Neverquestion a call, never show emotion, and you will always finish 1st in the eyes of your peers.

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