Competitions are prevalent in many styles of martial arts, and some schools place heavy emphasis on tournaments. Is this a good or bad thing? Well, if a student told me that they were interested in entering competitions, I would ask them why. Is it because they feel it will help motivate them to train harder? Is it to force themselves to endure a challenge which can be extremely nerve-racking? Is it to win a medal or trophy?
Regarding medals and trophies, if I may paraphrase a quote from John Candy in the movie Cool Runnings: medals are wonderful, “but if you’re not enough without (a gold medal), you’ll never be enough with it.”
I believe that entering jiu-jitsu competitions can be an effective and legitimate source of self-confidence. But I believe that the true confidence comes from being able to say, “I overcame the challenge, got up there even when I was nervous, and gave it my best,” rather than thinking, “I won, I’m the greatest!”
Some students may choose to compete, while others may have no desire to do so. I respect, and understand, both viewpoints completely. I have gone through periods of my training where I felt competition was important, and at other times I had no desire to compete.
Perhaps the biggest question we should ask ourselves before deciding whether to compete is, “How will this help me grow as a martial artist/person?”
See you on the mats, OSSSSS!