Benefits of Martial arts Tournaments
In martial arts, tournaments have many positive benefits. Now everyone knows that the original and biggest reasons that martial arts was founded was for self-defense. In modern days, people train in martial arts for a variety of reasons. Yes, self defense classes are a fantastic way to be prepared for the worst case scenarios, but martial arts also provides people a way to relieve stress, get in shape, lose weight, get stronger, increase flexibility, and provide an outlet for those who have a competitive nature. The percentage of people who train martial arts like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu specifically for competitive reasons are very low; however, that is not to say that only that low percentage of people will benefit from stepping out on the mats to compete. So maybe you aren’t in martial arts for competition and maybe you aren’t even remotely interested in competing, and that’s ok! But if you have any interest in going out there and testing yourself in a tournament, here are some of the benefits that you’ll enjoy by doing so.
Self Defense skills can actually be improved even with competition focused training. Now it’s true that competitions aren’t 100% geared toward self defense preparation. There are any things that are banned in competitions that you need to be ready for in a street fight or self defense scenario. For instance, in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, you don’t have to worry about multiple attackers, strikes of any kind, concrete, uneven terrain, unpredictable environment, biting, eye gouging, hair pulling, and the lists goes on and on. However, one huge way that competitions will help prepare you for self defense is testing your skills against an opponent is is resisting with 100% of their power, intensity, and self-resolve. This is the level of resistance that you will experience in a street fight. While some martial arts provide training environments with sparring and resistance based training, those who compete will mostly agree that the level of resistance you experience in the gym is not the 100%, fight for your life resistance that you’ll experience in a street fight or in a competition. Being ready for an altercation and that 100% fight for your lift resistance is best prepared for and simulated in the struggles of official competition where everyone is trying to prove that they are the best.
By now, I’m sure you’ve heard of the Fight or Flight response that says that in situations where one is under extreme amounts of stress, one will either rise to the challenge and meet it head on with everything they have, or they’ll focus all of their abilities on avoiding whatever it is that is causing the stress. For example, on a much smaller scale, when you were assigned a difficult, long term homework assignment in school, were you the student who immediately began working on it in study hall next period, or were you the person who shuffled it to the bottom of your backpack and refused to look at it or even think about it until it was the night before it was due? How do you deal with this kind of anxiety? When you are preparing for a competition, most people will experience some level of nerves and anxiety. Some people get it worse than others, but it’s something that everyone has to deal with. By competing you force yourself into a situation where you learn to deal with high levels of stress and anxiety where the “flight” option is barely there. Yes, you can “flee” by tapping out early or by not even showing up, but 99% of people move forward with their committment, fight, and show everyone and more importantly show themselves what they are capable of overcoming and prove to themselves that they are stronger than they may have previously thought. When you realize the kinds of things you are capable of making yourself do, you become a much stronger, more determined, and capable person.
Everyone has this innate power called “will power.” Most of us learned of what will power is as a kid. In it’s simplest explanation, it’s the ability to resist temptation. Just like everything else, some people have more will power than others, but also just like everything else, it’s something that we can improve upon with practice and determination.
When someone prepares for a competition, they usually start training a little more often anda a little harder in the weeks leading up to a tournament. Maybe you’re a little tired from training the night before, but you know that by going in to train again that night, you’ll be just a little bit more prepared for the competition, so you make yourself go train again. Maybe instead of training 2x per week, you start training 4x per week. That kind of change will cause a little fatigue and will force you to make slight changes in your schedule to accommodate the extra training. This all takes will power and discipline.
In martial arts and Jiu Jitsu competitions, you are usually required to notify the people running the tournament ahead of time which weight class you will be competing in. Most people try to lost a little weight so that they can enjoy a size advantage over their opponents. In the weeks leading up to the tournament, most people clean up their diet, avoid unnecessary calories, pizza, chocolate, and basically anything that can bring a smile to your face from just eating it. Depending on who you are, this will normally take a good deal of self-control and discipline.
Competing in martial arts tournaments is a great character building event and can force your to really take a look at who you are and how strong you are. Competing is certainly not an easy thing to do, but for those who decide to give it a try, they often love the experience and decide to do it again and again. If you train in a Jiu Jitsu or martial arts gym, you will often notice that those who compete are in a little bit better shape, are a little bit tougher, and have a bit more determination. You may think that it’s because they have these qualities that they choose to pursue competition, and that may be true in some rare instances. But in reality, most of the time, these people were at one time just like everyone else, and their extra fitness, determination, and higher level of mental toughness are the direct result of their decision to push themselves to the limit and see what they’re made of by choosing to compete and continually test themselves both physically and mentally in competition.
Now I just want to close by saying that just because a person can reap these benefits to a greater degree by competing, this doesn’t mean that those who choose not to compete are doomed to not experience these same benefits. Martial arts by its nature will bestow these benefits upon anyone who chooses to practice them. It’s just that those who compete will often experience these same benefits, just with a greater intensity. Not everybody wants to compete and that is 100% great! Your journey and experiences are completely up to you. I would encourage everyone to compete at least once in their life so that they can show themselves just how much they are really capable of, but even if you decide to never step foot in the realm of competition, you will still enjoy all of these benefits alongside many more.