Competing is a huge part of martial arts. It gives you a chance to compete against different martial artists from different schools who might have a different approach to how your dojo does things. It allows you to assess your skills compared to other similarly ranked martial artists.
Many instructors recommend competing at tournaments once you understand the basics of your combat style down. These competitions are typically broken down by belt level and weight classes, so you don’t have to worry about running into competitors who are significantly more skilled than you are.
Getting Ready For Your Martial Arts Competition
There are some things martial artists can do to increase their odds of success at martial arts tournaments. Let’s take a detailed look at the little things that make all the difference when competing as a martial artist:
1) Weight Management
Managing your weight leading up to your competition allows you to compete in your optimal weight class. These competitions are typically broken down by weight classes and ranks, so getting leaner heading into your tournament means you get to compete in a lighter weight class.
Cutting weight is common in many combat sports. It typically involves getting rid of most of the fat on your frame and losing water weight on the day competitors are weighed and assigned to their respective weight classes.
While it might not seem obvious to those who have never competed in combat sports, most people can lose around 10 to 15 pounds of water weight in about 24 hours, and many athletes use this to their advantage.
However, some combat sports like wrestling have taken steps to prevent athletes from shedding water weight leading up to competitions by making them weigh in on the day of the tournament. That way, athletes can only cut weight by losing excess fat on their bodies leading up to tournaments. Many would say that’s the most effective way to cut weight for competitions since many top martial artists like Floyd Mayweather don’t cut water weight leading to their fights.
2) Practice With The Rules Of The Tournament
Another simple thing martial artists can do to increase their odds of success at tournaments is to acquaint themselves with the rules of the tournaments leading up to it. This can be single differentiating factor if you find yourself in a very competitive match.
Most martial arts tournaments have a point-scoring system, so knowing how to maximize your points goes a long way. For example, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments typically award points for takedowns, reversals, sweeps, and dominant positions, plus you can also win matches by submitting your opponent. Understanding what techniques scores you the most points can give you the edge in close matches.
3) Getting Enough Rest Before The Tournament
It’s easy to overtrain heading into a tournament. You’re excited to compete against fresh faces and want to ensure you’re fully prepared. The reality is any techniques you learn during the week before a tournament probably won’t do you much good.
You’d be better off taking things slow the week of your competition to allow your body to rest and repair any damage that occurred during training. Getting enough sleep is equally important. Most people need about eight hours of sleep per night, but some might require more or less depending on their age, genetics, and training regimen. Sleep deprivation hinders physical and mental performance, so ensure you get enough quality sleep.
4) Don’t Forget To Warm-Up
Warming up properly before your matches is vital as it helps prevent injuries and gets your body loose so you can perform at your best. Warming up also helps improve your mental game as it gets you in the zone.
Many athletes have a specific routine before matches to get them physically and mentally ready. Some might listen to music, others might do visualization exercises, and others might do dynamic stretching. Find what works for you and stick to it.
5) Set Realistic Goals
Setting realistic goals heading into your tournament is essential, so you don’t get too disappointed if things don’t go your way. If this is your first tournament, then your goal should be simply to compete and have fun. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to win, as that can lead to poor performances.
If you’re a more experienced competitor, your goal might be to place in the top three or make it to the finals. Whatever your ambitions are, make sure they’re realistic and have a plan to achieve them.
6) Stay Calm And Composed
Tournaments can be nerve-wracking, especially if you’re not used to competing in front of crowds. Staying calm and composed is vital as nerves can lead to poor decision-making and subpar performances.
One way to stay calm is by focusing on your breathing. Taking deep breaths from your stomach help oxygenate your blood which leads to better performance. Another way to stay calm is by visualizing yourself succeeding. See yourself executing the game plan you set and achieving your goals.
7) Be Flexible
No matter how prepared you are, things might not go your way during a tournament. You might get thrown off by a last-minute change in the rules, or you might run into an opponent who’s much better than you anticipated. It’s crucial to be flexible and adjust on the fly.
If your game plan isn’t working, don’t be afraid to switch things up. Sometimes all it takes is a slight change in strategy to lead to success. The most successful martial artists are the ones that can make adjustments on the fly and adapt to their opponents.
8) Analyze Your Performance
After the tournament is over, it’s important to analyze your performance and see what you did well and what you need to improve on. This will help you set goals for your next tournament and make the necessary changes to your training.
One way to do this is by recording all your matches. This way, you can go back and watch them with a coach or training partners and get their feedback. Another way to analyze your performance is by keeping a journal. Write down how you felt before and after each match. This will help you identify any mental blocks you need to work on.
Preparing for a martial arts tournament takes time, dedication, and hard work. But if you follow these tips, you’ll be on your way to success. Remember to have fun and always give it your best effort.
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