Mar 14

Own the ring: Tips for a martial arts competition

You’ve spent the last week fine-tuning your form by lowering your stance that extra half an inch, shouting louder on that kiai than you ever imagined and you’re more than prepared to step in front of your judges.

But once you step inside your ring to compete, something happens. You get nervous. You speak quieter than usual. You’re not the level of performer you had envisioned.

I’ve seen martial arts students lose all their self-confidence as soon as they bow before the judges panel. And I’ve even seen a poor girl cry as she announced her name.

Instead of being timid, own the ring.

You only get a few minutes at the most to make your impression. Don’t spend it acting like you’d rather be somewhere else. You paid the money to travel to and register for the event, you put in the time to practice and your friends and family are cheering you on.

Take over whatever ring you’re in. Perform like you did at home with nobody watching. You have been given an opportunity where no one else can compete in that space but you. Seize that opportunity and run with it – that ring is yours.

I’m not saying to be a jerk about it. You aren’t above your other competitors. Always be respectful to them and your judges. But from the time you bow in to the ring to the time you bow out of it, the spotlight is on you.

Walk with a purpose.

Bow cleanly.

Announce your name the loudest and with the most confidence.

Perform your kata like it’s the most important thing on your mind instead of wondering whether the event’s concessions will feature pizza or hot dogs.

Draw everybody’s eyes to you and make an impression.

If you really like something somebody else did that got them a high score, steal it. Just know sure you can do it if you haven’t tried it before.

The martial arts instill confidence. Just because you’re going to a martial arts tournament doesn’t mean it has to be a scary venture. Take the time to meet other people and network, asking about their arts and politely asking why they do something that you have been taught to do differently.

So make the most of your efforts to get to the competition day by making yourself the star for that pair of minutes where all the eyes are on you.

Own the ring.

Adam Bockler

Sensei Adam Bockler is a 2nd-degree black belt in karate and the owner of Metamora Martial Arts. He's been in the martial arts since 2003, and has received instruction in tai chi chuan, Hsing-i chuan, judo, tae kwon do and XMA. Sensei Bockler was inducted into the 2014 USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame as Karate Black Belt of the Year. He is the communications manager for Float Mobile Learning.

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