Here at the WKFA, we aren’t a “tournament school”. Yes, we have competition classes and we have our annual Shiai, but aside from that we (for various reasons) only support a couple of external tournaments each year. However, I do feel there are many benefits derived from preparing for, and competing in, tournaments. Things like building friendships, improving technique, performing in front of others, etc. all help to improve a child’s overall Kung Fu skills. But don’t forget that, at the most fundamental level, a tournament is a competition; some win and some lose!
Competitions vs Demonstrations – A tournament is a competition – not simply a performance or demonstration and there’s a difference. What makes someone a great performer doesn’t necessarily make them a great competitor. The nature of competition means that your child is being judged alongside others.
Forms – Striving to do well when competing in forms requires significantly more focus and energy when executing strikes or blocks. It is demonstrated in your child’s expression and their eye movements. It’s also the martial intent when your child walks up to the ring and judges, presenting themselves and their bow. It all adds up, doing well means standing out and being memorable – and yes, that sometimes means the crispest stances, or the most effective kiais in a form, not just remembering the moves.
WKFA students are very skilled and can compete with the best to win at these tournaments, but it is up to the student to put the effort in.
Competitive Point Sparring – Point sparring is different from how we spar in most classes; and doesn’t always translate to success in competitions. This is why competition classes focus specifically on the differences, and what is required to be successful in a tournament environment.
Contact is something we get asked about a lot. It’s important to know that 99.9% of the incidents of contact in tournament sparring is accidental. If a student gets hurt during a match, it’s important to first assess if they are ‘injured’ or ‘hurt’ – there is a difference. If a child is accidentally hurt, it typically means that they were either caught off guard or the contact was more than they are accustomed to, but overall the pain is short term and we strongly encourage both students and parents to use these situations as opportunities to build resilience. Help them understand that what they’re feeling is temporary and give them the confidence and support to compose themselves and continue the competition.
Should they be more aware of their blocking? Are they charging into attack without being aware of their competitor’s movements? Is their stance, footwork and movement effective? As the kids get older, how can they condition themselves to absorb a strike to their abs?
Although there will be ups and downs in any competition, at the end of the day, your child needs to have fun. If your child is not having fun and learning something while competing, then I would consider looking at what’s preventing your child from enjoying the experience and looking to see how that can be addressed. Feel free to speak to your friendly neighbourhood Sifu 🙂