Martial arts tournaments, not real fighting but still worthwhile


A Comment on Tournaments:  Why they are worthwhile despite rules, refereeing and & sporting politics..

by Jason Armstrong, 1996

The recent tournament we visited was a success and in my opinion everyone who competed put forward their best karate to date. Some were disappointed in the rules and ruling in certain rings with regards to referee subjectivity.

Despite the fact that "tournaments are not of the true spirit of martial arts" (Deshimaru roshi, a famous Japanese Zen master; Taira sensei of Okinawa), if I had never competed in tournaments my martial arts experience would not feel anywhere near as full as it does and my ability as a strike fighter would be know where near what it is.

Photo: An example of sports karate point fighting  - the Las Vegas Ozawa Cup with Sensei Garry Edwards (Australia, 4th Dan at the time) against a US opponent in 2009.

There were some mixed feelings about certain decisions from the referees at this tournament. I understand the reactions many of you had. One must remember that travelling to a tournament allows you to test your strength against those of a similar rank from another dojo and this unknown causes a developmental vital nervousness for most in their early years of competition. What matters is how you felt as a martial artist compared to your opponent not what the judge decided (he was not in the fight, only you and your opponent know the truth). In my tournament experiences I have been defeated by people who I know I was stronger than, and I have defeated people who I know were stronger than I. However, I always walked always with much to think about and therefore it must have been a growing experience.

Remember that tournament is not true martial arts and therefore does not truly test your understanding of the art or skill. This is because it is a game with rules and the decisions are the subjective opinions of others. Martial arts in their pure form have no rules, pre-set assumptions and are definitely not a game.

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