|Emily as a Gold belt in her bubble gum gear|
We are not a tournament focused school, I do believe that tournaments have a place in karate practice but not a huge place. In the 60’s tournaments, as well as sparring, were seen as a way to promote the study of the martial arts; which ultimately helped turn the martial arts into martial sports. It is my belief that because of sparring events in tournaments we tend to have the huge blending of styles that we have today; as instructors, competitors and students tended to look for the edge to have over their opponents so they freely borrowed techniques, strategies and such from outside sources. Likewise to make it safer; rules were adopted, sparring gear was created which helped launch the martial art supply businesses, and as the study of the martial arts was made safer it helped opened up the door to children studying the martial arts.
Kata like sparring, also developed to be an artistic expression thus opening the door to more physically challenging kata that now can resemble gymnastic floor exercises, along with musical kata routines that bear little resemblance to traditional weapon or empty hand kata. However by making it safer for students to learn, making it more flashy, more spectacular it has also made it more interesting for kids and adults as well.
At Hidden Sword we attend one tournament per year as a school. Participation is not required but I do encourage it. We as part of the American Karate Tae Kwon Do Association attend their annual invitational tournament at the Richardson YMCA in Richardson TX. Here our students will compete against their peers from other AKATO schools and a couple more that might be invited; however they will be competing against students of similar systems doing similar kata all held to the same rules. Likewise they will get to spar against other students of similar skill levels.
- Students competing in kata will all be doing standardized kata from recognized systems. Therefore no one student can make up their own kata, incorporating back flips, round offs, or standing on one foot and roundhouse kicking in a circle, nor doing full splits with a high block while punching (to what I don't know to an ankle?).
- Students competing in kata can only do the kata they are working on for their next belt rank and below. This way Orange belts aren’t doing brown belt kata to have an edge over the other Orange and Yellow belts.
weapons kata division students are able to do standardized kata. So again no made up
kata where the competitor squats in front of the judge and tosses his kama between his legs in hopes of catching it, nor twirling their katana between their fingers, or throwing their
bo staff into the air and catching it like a twirler’s baton.
Even though we are not a tournament focused school our students can compete against other likeminded schools who want to teach the martial art, more so than just how to win a trophy. Like I said at the beginning of this blog, I do believe tournaments have a place in today’s practice of the martial arts and I believe tournaments have also had a positive effect on the study of martial arts, however I have also seen a down side to tournaments as well. In my next blog I will talk about why I want our students to attend and what are some of the benefits of having your child compete, even if it is only one time per year.
Please remember this Saturday the 26th of October we will not be having class due to our participation in the Annual AKATO Invitational Tournament.