Last weekend, the Twin Cities Tournament was held at Shakopee High School. The experience rewarded friendships, camaraderie, and an important reminder as the reason we compete: to have fun. This blog post is a re-cap of my thoughts gleamed from a weekend of mid-terming, competing, and watching a Lakes Martial Arts student compete for the first time.
All Things Compete
All living things compete each day: trees for sun, plants for nutrients, and animals for food. Karate Kids and Tiny Tigers compete for love and attention. Men and women compete for love and for their feelings. Did you know we also compete with ourselves, too?
Gyeo-roo-gi (“sparring”) takes place around us each day… facing our fears of failure… a common condition people share. We can use this word to to represent daily struggles, too.
We fight to live. We fight disease. We can even fight traffic, too.
Taekwondo is always used for fighting... but fighting not always in the physical sense. Monks and farmers in early Korea used martial arts training to develop mental attributes, too. Lakes Martial Arts students, too, fight often in their daily life. Their training gives them strength and confidence to face their own struggles with a black belt attitude.
Tournaments offer opportunity to fight a “healthy fear.” A fear of being nervous about presenting a form in front of a panel of judges with parents and friends watching. Conquering fear to choose to compete at a tournament, for example, is in itself demonstrates an improvement in mental strength. Nerves don’t stand a chance against self-confidence.
Internal Rewards vs External Rewards
Grand Master H. U. Lee explains the rewards to competing in tournaments in this way: “There are two types of rewards: an external and internal reward. External is a trophy, plaque, medal, money, or the like. This reward will eventually sit on a shelf and collect dust; it loses its excitement and purpose after time has passed. Some people even sell this reward in garage sales.”
He continues, “Internal rewards are those that affect you as a human. They often stay with you a long time. In some cases, this internal reward can affect your life forever. There are also two kinds of internal rewards: negative and positive. These usually result in a sad or happy person.”
Compete for Rewards that Last
When you choose to compete, enjoying tournaments is a way to meet friends, see demonstrations, and enjoy the challenges of facing personal fears. This keeps your eyes off external rewards…. that way everyone can go home a winner.
Grandmaster once said, “You may choose to allow tournaments to affect you in a positive way or negative way. Even if something negative happens, you can choose to look at it in a positive way and take home a positive internal reward… with pride.”
Diamonds Created Under Pressure
If there was only competition and you lost, that would be all you would remember. But if there is a celebration of fun and excitement, “The loss become only a small portion of the many gains,” emphasized Grand Master Lee.
To compete for only a few minutes is worth more than what a student might initially imagine. The preparation alone (the weeks and months of sweat) are valuable even if there was no goal of winning.
"Most importantly, when you preform under pressure, your skills are being tested and burned into your mind,” says Grand Master. “