Entering a martial arts tournament is not a compulsory element to any particular style but it can be an exciting addition to the whole training process  and provides a great deal of benefits for the participating student.  Naturally competitive students of the style will often be keen to take part irrespective of technique or experience whilst those students who are a little more reserved may be reluctant to participate until they have witnessed the events themselves. Entering a martial arts tournament for the first time can be a little daunting for the novice but it provides a fantastic learning curve and the opportunity to be able to see some first class demonstrations of the style by experienced students.

For those students who are considering entering a martial arts tournament, it is important to use the time building up the event to increase training practice and increase fitness as well. Even the fittest martial artists find tournaments exhausting so it makes sense to use the time well and this will provide additional confidence if planning to enter.  Assuming that sparring has been an active part of the training process, it makes sense to increase sparring sessions if time permits or discuss with other students how to find time for training outside of the actual club. Providing that care is taken and the right protective equipment used, then additional and external sparring would provide many benefits and still be safe.

Increased focus during the lead-in time to the tournament will pay dividends for the serious contender as although sparring bouts are short (usually a few minutes) it is all about staying alert, concentrating and intuitively picking up signals from the opponent as to which moves will be used against you. Lack of concentration can be costly as most tournaments operate a points system and specific moves that connect on key areas of the body will award the opponent more points. Tournaments are challenging, intense and incredibly demanding on the mind, body and spirit and it is important that training incorporates all three elements to give a fighting chance in each sparring session. Remaining centred, focussed and feeling fit and healthy will enable the student to participate fully relying on technique and not brute force to overcome the opponent. 

Most tournaments rules are semi-contact and the judges will be looking for clean technique and not an out and out brawl, so increase training on those techniques that would be used i.e. basic kicks and punches with some confidence. Remember that complex moves or exciting but difficult kicks need not be used just for effect, those are best left to demonstrations and not in the ring. Focus on technique only and increasing confidence as those techniques become second nature.

Because energy levels can be depleted very quickly during these tournaments, a healthy and nutritious diet in the weeks prior to the event would be beneficial and also learning a relaxation technique such as meditation can be useful as it can still the mind, ease the nerves and keep energy levels constant. Being overwhelmed with nerves is the main cause of low energy levels and so a regular meditative practice session leading up to and during the tournament would be beneficial.

To achieve the best success within a martial arts tournament, follow the steps above and rise to the challenge.