There is no doubt that training and competing in any sporting endeavour can be an exciting and at times nerve wracking experience, and in my opinion, one of the most challenging sports to participate in, is a combat sport like Martial Arts.
At the same time it can bring out the best in a student, forcing them to face their fears, focus their mind, and commit to a rigorous schedule of training, in order to be prepared for the big event.
On the 10th of September 2023, at the ISKA (International Sports Karate Association), eight brave students of Wu Xing Dao Kung Fu decided to take the plunge, and compete in their first ever ISKA Tournament.
As their Instructor and a former competitor, I was both extremely proud and nervous for my Team, and even though we prepared well for ten straight weeks in the lead up to the event, there was always lingering doubt and fear about whether we had done enough preparation for the competition.
It is interesting to me to witness an ISKA event from a different perspective, as even though I was always nervous before my own competitions, when we arrived at Niagara Park on the big day, I felt more stress than ever.
As Head Coach, I felt the weight of responsibility, and even though I knew my students are all talented individuals, I wanted to make sure that they felt ready to compete, came prepared to do their best, and didn’t get hurt on the day.
With that said, when the dust settled at 5.30pm that evening, and the last of our competitors had finished their events, I had an immense feeling of pride and admiration, every one of them gave it their all, and finished the day with an experience they can look back on for the rest of their lives.
We were fortunate enough as a school to come home with two Third Place Medals, and even though not all of our competitors achieved victory in their first outing, they got a chance to feel what it was like to represent themselves and their club, and share in an amazing event in front of hundreds of people.
I want to extend my congratulations to Tom, Brett, Scott, T J, Isabelle, Ben, Dario and Gabriel, and give a massive thanks to members of the school who came to support and cheer on their Team as we competed in the ISKA Central Coast Open.
A special thanks to Huy Nguyen, who as always, selflessly gave up his time to come and take photos on the day, capturing the feel of the tournament perfectly, and providing some amazing action shots, that speak louder than words ever could.
I think everyone who participates in Martial Arts can learn a lot from taking that next big step, and entering a Martial Arts Tournament or competition.
It is a great way to test all of the skills you have learned in your class environment, and to compete against fellow Martial Artists from other schools, who will likely have a different approach to training and combat, which provides yet another learning opportunity.
With that in mind, here are my observations on some of the biggest factors you need to consider before entering your first Martial Arts competition, should you have a desire to test yourself and reach the next level of your development.
Don’t be afraid to FAIL!
Fear of failure is one of the biggest challenges that athletes face. The pressure to perform well and win can be overwhelming, and the fear of not meeting expectations can hinder their performance. However, it is important to remember that failure is a part of the learning process and should not be feared. Instead, athletes should use their failures as motivation to work harder and improve their skills.
I personally have felt the elation of victory, as well as the devastation of defeat, but it is how you handle a loss, and learn from this experience that will help you grow. It shows great character to be gracious in defeat, and to reflect on the outcome, tighten up your game, and come back stronger than before.
Conquer your FEAR!
Another challenge that athletes face is the fear of getting hurt. Combat sports, in particular, can be physically demanding and carry a higher risk of injury. It is important for athletes to take proper precautions, such as wearing protective gear and practising good technique, to minimise the risk of injury. Additionally, athletes should focus on building their strength and conditioning, to improve their overall physical resilience.
I will be the first to say that any combat sport has inherent risks, and there is always a possibility of getting hurt, but if you prepare hard enough for the competition, keep a cool head when under pressure, and remember your training, the chances of serious injury are minimal.
Visualisation is one of the most important tools in an athlete’s arsenal!
Visualisation is a powerful tool that can help athletes overcome challenges and improve their performance. By visualising themselves successfully completing a task or achieving a goal, athletes can boost their confidence and increase their chances of success. It is important for athletes to regularly visualise their success, and mentally prepare themselves for the challenges they will face.
I feel that this point is one of the most important, and is an often under-utilised technique for athletes who are new to competition. I always liked to get to an event early, put my favourite motivational music on, and work up a sweat while shadow boxing or hitting some mitts, and the whole time I am strongly visualising moving with my opponent, avoiding his shots, using my head movement and footwork, and landing with all of my best strikes.
Although there are no guarantees what the outcome will be when the bout actually starts, having a strong mindset, and visualising victory is often the key to success.
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail!
Preparation is the key in any sport. Athletes need to have a clear and structured training plan to ensure they are physically and mentally prepared for competition. This includes regular practice sessions, strength and conditioning exercises, and mental training. By putting in the necessary time and effort in their training, athletes can feel more confident and prepared when it comes time to compete.
Breathing techniques can help calm your nerves
Finally, it is important for athletes to find ways to calm their nerves before a competition. Nervousness and anxiety can negatively impact performance, so it is important for athletes to develop strategies to manage their nerves. This could involve deep breathing exercises, positive self-talk, or engaging in relaxation techniques such as meditation or visualisation.
In conclusion, participating in any sport can be challenging, but with the right mindset and strategies, athletes can overcome these challenges and grow both personally and professionally. By facing their fears, preparing diligently, and staying focused, athletes can reach their full potential and achieve success in their chosen sport.
Thanks again to all members of the school who not only gave up their time to support their fellow students in the competition, but whom also tirelessly helped them prepare for the event.
I hope many more of my students will take the plunge in future events and continue to grow and learn in all aspects of their Martial Arts journey.
If you are looking to take your health and well-being to another level, why not get involved in Martial Arts? At Wu Xing Dao Kung Fu, we take a holistic approach to Martial Arts. It’s not just about learning self-defence and punching and kicking, it’s also about self-discipline, health and nutrition.
After you have enrolled in martial art classes, we take time to help you understand the different types of martial arts and the various life skills that come with them. This allows you to make an informed decision when choosing the martial arts style you would like to learn. We ensure that every trainee learns how to defend themselves effectively as well as enjoy the many other health benefits that martial arts offer.
Please call us today on 0410 249 217 or leave a message and we’ll get back to you ASAP.