The Martial Arts Tournament: A Trial of Skills and Courage

Whether you are watching an action movie or flipping through your cable channels, martial arts have invaded popular culture and are more popular now than ever. Ever since Bruce Lee kicked ass on the movies people have been fascinated by martial arts and this has lead to an explosion in popularity that still continues to carry onto this day. From the days of Karate Kid and the McDojos in the 80’s, to the popularity of UFC and the rise of Mixed Martial Arts the Tournament’s Arena has always been the best judge on who is the best.


Most Martial Arts had their origin in fighting techniques that were used to survive on the battlefield. But even after guns nullified the use of hand-to-hand combat in war, unarmed techniques have outlived their battlefield use and are still being taught today to people who wish to be able to defend themselves in any situation of their daily lives. Whether it be a soccer mom who wishes to practice her cardio and learn some self-defense techniques on the way, or the nerdy kid in class who is bullied, martial arts teach discipline, sel-reliance, and give its practitioners a mature understanding of violence but more importantly, how to prevent it.


Watching Dragon Ball as a kid was my first experience with martial arts, but when i started practicing in a Karate dojo for the first time I realized how mistaken my idea of a Martial Arts tournament was. Contrary to what I had seen on movies, Tournament organizers took a lot of care on separating the competitors by weight and their experience so that the best Martial Artist would win, instead of turning into a freak show with the bigger guy walking over a weaker opponent. Even in Martial Arts talent can only take you so far. Size matters, even at the top level. This is evidenced by the most recent Lexington martial arts tournament.


Most frequent Martial Artists who frequent Tournaments train constantly (even daily) to develop their skills and are always looking to perfect a special technique with which they shine the most. In Karate and other traditional Asian Martial Arts there are several events where a practitioner may compete including fighting, kata (a choreography of different attack and defense forms), and breaking bricks; while other more modern Martial Arts like MMA Tournaments are often strictly limited to fighting events. But regardless of what type of Martial Arts it is there is no doubt that to get to the top and win a martial artist needs talent, dedication, and a lot of heart.


The rules of a tournament depend on the type of Martial Arts and what are the guidelines set by the federation or organization that promotes the event. Other than how many points the judges scores for certain techniques, every tournament is based on using the skills that are taught by the martial art of the competitors. Once the date arrives and the tournament starts the competitors have to face several elimination events intended to weave out fighters and leave only the best for the final event.


If you are reading this article then chances are that you are a beginner martial artist who is interested in starting to compete. Going to your first Tournament can be a very exciting, even intimidating, experience. That’s why it’s good for beginners to keep in mind that wherever they compete they can be confident that the division in which they compete will contain other Martial Artists who are equally experienced as they are. I was actually very nervous in my first Tournament but my teacher was always beside me explaining me how it wasn’t different than a normal sparring session and this is a thought that can help any beginner relax before their first fight on a tournament.


In the end, after all the medals and trophies have been awarded, and the crowd of fans and family members are taking pictures with the competitors, regardless of how well they did each competitor can look back at his experience with pride knowing that he or she stood up to the challenge. The lessons learned in a Tournament can never be understood in a gym or dojo, no matter how good the teacher is. The Tournament is the forge in which the spirit of a warrior is forged.