This next weekend we will be taking some students to Walla Walla to compete and for some of them it is either their first tournament or their first tournament in a long time. There are others who are not attending for various reasons. I know going to tournaments can be very intimidating if it’s not something that you do on a regular basis, and to be honest with you, that’s just a part of competing and something that you get to face and conquer by going out there and doing your best.
The reason most of us are in karate, is because it’s fun. We go to tournaments because they’re fun, because we meet new people who are just as passionate about our art as we are, and we make new friendships that often last a lifetime. We go to tournaments because we are proud of what we do and what we’ve accomplished on a personal level and want to share our passion. We go to tournaments because they make us better martial artists and better people, and did I mention that they’re fun?
I’ve heard so many students say, when asked why they are apprehensive about going to tournaments, that they’re “afraid to lose” or “afraid to do bad”. This is all a matter of perspective. We love karate, it’s fun. Why does a tournament have to be anything but? Winning or losing should not be your main focus. Yes, it’s fun to win. I’ve won a lot in my karate “career” and I’ve also lost a lot. When I won, I didn’t learn half as much about myself as I did when I didn’t win. It’s the times when I’ve lost that made me want to go back to the dojo and train harder. I learned what I could do differently, I learned my strengths and weaknesses. As a result, I was able to get better.
What if those statements or thoughts could be changed to “I’m going to demonstrate my best karate”, “I’m here to have fun”? What if we eliminate the word afraid and the negativity/fear that accompanies the anxiety about winning or losing? Then going to a tournament doesn’t seem so scary, it now sounds like something we may want to try.
I encourage you to re-evaluate your perspective on any issue that you find you’re holding back from due to fear or anxiety. What if you just changed your lens with which you see the situation, and put a positive spin on your approach? I’m not saying lie to yourself, but be honest with yourself and harness your positive energy. I guarantee you’ll have many more fulfilling experiences and will learn a great deal about yourself and others. You just might have fun…
– Sensei Tony Sharrah