Apr 26

A Letter to Competitors Following The 2014 GAMA Tournament

Mark your calendars for April 25, 2015, because I cannot recommend this tournament enough.

Master Aaron Wayne-Duke address sparring competitors at the 2014 GAMA Tournament

Master Aaron Wayne-Duke addresses sparring competitors at the 2014 GAMA Tournament

Congratulations to Master Aaron Wayne-Duke and Galesburg Academy of Martial Arts for a successful tournament. This is the first event I’ve known Mr. Duke to hold since I first met him in 2008 when he attended the first-ever Metamora Martial Arts open tournament.

Mr. Duke and his entire crew should be proud of their effort today. The whole event only ran as smooth as it did because of how hard they prepared.

The atmosphere at his tournament all day was very positive, starting from grappling to forms, then weapons and sparring.

What I saw was a group of determined, focused, phenomenal group of young competitors who gives something a shot that more of their peers should, in my opinion. Not only are they learning martial arts, but they’re learning what it’s like to compete, and what it’s like to win and lose.

A young competitor came up to me after receiving third place in his forms division. I personally thought he was in the top 1 or 2, but the other judges had a different opinion.

He should’ve gotten an award for his character, though.

“Thank you, sir,” he said, as he shook my hand and bowed. “This is my first tournament, and my birthday is tomorrow. This is the best present I could’ve gotten.”

While I noticed some tears following a few divisions, I’d like to think all of the competitors eventually went home happy. The coaches/instructors, from what I saw, all helped guide their students after the students felt disappointed, I assume, from not winning first or at least performing better.

As my instructor always said: “It’s all right to be disappointed, but it’s not all right to be discouraged.”

You have a year to get better if you didn’t win first place today.


Try again.

Fall down seven times, get up eight – so goes the old proverb.

To the competitors who won first place and walked out with smiles…

Keep working because everybody else who didn’t win first is gunning for you next year.

I feel like I’ve got a target on my back for the adult black belt forms division.

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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    […] I’d urge you to head to Galesburg for the 2015 GAMA Open Championship Tournament. I wrote a letter to the competitors after last year’s tournament, and it holds true today. I’m excited to see the […]

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