Attending your first martial arts tournament can be an overwhelming and nerve-wracking experience for those new to these types of events. Establishing an effective pre-competition routine to both calm you down and get you ready to perform is essential (which you can read more about here) but there are some additional ways you can prepare yourself as well.

Do What You Know

One of the mistakes we see at competition is when athletes try to emulate new movements that they see other competitors using. Although competitions serve as a great way to learn from other people in your discipline – tournaments and competitions are not where you should try them out for the first time. Just do what you have practiced or rehearsed and save the new moves for next time.

Remember to Bow

Depending on what martial arts discipline you are competing in there are different etiquette rules you will need to follow. To save yourself from any potential embarrassment that would come from not knowing what to do, ask your instructor about the rules you need to follow, as well as where you are supposed to stand when called out, and any commands the referees may say in Japanese.

Don’t Tense Up – Take it Easy

Remember this – everyone else is just as nervous as you are! So one of the key things to keep in mind is to take it easy – stay as focused and calm as possible. Doing a warmup routine will help manage nerves while getting your body ready to compete and perform. You’re going to this event in order to grow and learn as martial artist, and one of the ways to do this is by learning how to commit to certain techniques and not second guessing yourself.

If you are in a 1 on 1 competition, go in knowing that you have a 50% chance of losing every match, so don’t work yourself up over it! If you lose (which you may), use it as a learning experience and don’t be too hard on yourself. Everybody starts somewhere, so learn and take in as much as possible to really get the most out of your tournament experience.

Do Your Research

The final step to take before heading out the door is to learn as much as you can about the tournament beforehand. Do a Google search for the tournament you will be attending to get a feel for the types of competitors who will be there, as well as information about the location it is being held at. That way you are a little more familiar with the area before you even get there. Also, make sure you understand all the rules you need to follow – no one likes to lose due to a technicality.

Martial art tournaments and competitions can teach you a lot, even if you don’t win. If nerves start to get in your way, remember your training and that you are here for a reason. Have faith in yourself and what you have learned so far, and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! You’ll never know what you might be able to achieve.