Tournament Thoughts

A student of Schutz Martial Arts starting the black belt pattern "Koryo."

A student of Schutz Martial Arts starting the black belt pattern “Koryo.”

As a martial arts instructor, I get to go to tournaments and be a coach for some of my students.  I had the distinct pleasure of coaching several members of my team in the Northwoods Conquest Taekwondo tournament in Cumberland, Wisconsin on Saturday.   This winter we started a competition team that focuses on tournament competition and this was our first tournament as a team.  It was quite eye-opening for me and my team.

For several of my team, this was the first time they got the opportunity to competed with students who have a focus on tournaments.  Many of them have gone to tournament before but not with the quality of competition they had on Saturday.  This was the first time I really had a chance to watch other schools from a coaching perspective and I was impressed.  At most tournaments I attend, I am a judge or center referee and have a lot more to focus on then the performance of the athletes.  I am watching matches but I am not watching from a coaching perspective, I am watching from a rules perspective.  It is much different.  Below are some of my lessons from the tournament.

First, I learned that I do not train my athletes hard enough on their endurance.  By the end of the first two-minute round, my athletes were tired.  They became very slow and started to kick with a lot less focus.  In several instances, they just started to kick at nearly anything they could see.  They were so tired that they just kicked for the sake of kicking, in a vain hope that something would hit the target.   As a coach, I know that I can push their endurance harder but I am still looking for ways to improve their kicking focus even when they are tired.  If you are a coach, what have you done to increase this skill with your athletes?

Second, we have to work on trading some power for accuracy.  Most of my fighters can kick really hard.  I saw some of the other athletes wince when my players hit them.  That makes a part of me smile in self-satisfaction!  I like kicking hard and think that one powerful kick landed in a self-defense situation will end the confrontation.  That is not what my competition team needs to work on, they need to tone down the power and increase their accuracy.  How do you as a coach or athlete work on increasing accuracy in your sparring techniques?

Overall, I think it was a successful tournament.  One of my athletes had a rough day and took a few shots to the head but I think he will learn to be a better fighter as a result.  No one got seriously injured.  Everyone had a good time, well, almost everyone and I think we all learned valuable lessons that will make our next tournament a much better success.

What are some lessons you have learned in your tournament competition?

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