Thursday 21 June 2007

Karate Champion?

I retired from competition at 30 years old with lots of plastic and metal "junk".
When I competed, it was for fun. I was never serious about tournaments and never that good at them. However, during my competitive years, I was lucky to win a number of New Zealand regional and national titles.

The problem with karate competition is that it is completely subjective in nature. I have won, and lost competitions, where the decisions were completely warped by the judges. This is particularly true in kata, but also in kumite. It is also worth mentioning here, that the bigger the tournament, the more biased refereeing, and karate-politics come into play.
I'm not suggesting that karate tournaments are bad, and people should avoid them altogether, however, I do believe the attainment of success, at competition level, is pretty much fruitless in the long-term.
For those wishing to compete, whether you become a "champion" or not, the value of sports karate is found in the build up to the event. What competition gave me was motivation, to train more frequently, and with higher intensity. Early on in this process tournaments boosted my skill development. But in the later years, competition actually began to detrimentally effect my 'personal karate growth'.

Each individual must decide their own karate path. No way is right or wrong, but one thing is for sure, being successful in competition does not equate to being good at karate, nor being able to really fight. Always remember, there is no definitive champion in karate, so if you decide to enter a tournament, just train hard, and make it a fun experience. My advice on how to achieve this very comprehensive. Don't let your ego kick in! Just enter and 'lose magnificently'.

Pictured above: My friend, and longtime karateka Glen Glover, trying to 'impress the girls' by getting a photo in front of my trophies back in June 2005.

© André Bertel, Japan 2007

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