Updated: Apr 12, 2020
For those that haven't competed yet (kids and adults), I strongly urge you to consider competing.
Competition is a fast track for technical competence, physical toughness, emotional maturity, and invaluable psychological/mental skills. It forces you to become the best you can be in a limited frame of time.
What Competition Shouldn’t Be About...
The act of competition shouldn’t center on winning or losing. Societal and cultural forces pressure us to focus on winning to a detriment. However, winning every time and not being challenged has little value. That's not what we seek. Instead, competition should be utilized as a tool for self improvement and as a means of gathering information about one’s self and level of skill.
When approached with the right attitude, competition can be used as a tool to gather info about:
Your technical weaknesses and strengths
Which skills you need to work on
The effectiveness of your preparation
The effectiveness of your strategy
How you respond to pressure
How you approach and respond to loss and victory
Your automatic thoughts and self-judgements
Your leadership and team skills
and much much more...
The data you gather from the competition experience can then be used for Kaizen - the practice of continuous and ongoing improvement. Kaizen is part of the fabric of our dojo. With all this new data about yourself, you’re now in a position to set clear and targeted goals that will lead to growth, progress, improvement, and excellence. Regularly competing (every month or 2) puts pressure on you to practice Kaizen and make it a way of life. (If you're life or body at this time do not permit you to compete, you can talk to sensei to discuss how to focus your training).
And "waiting till I'm ready" or waiting till time permits does not work. It's a fallacy. If you wait till you're a blue or grey belt to compete, most likely, you will end up competing against other blue or grey belts that have now been competing for an average of 1-2 years. Maybe they have already participated in 5, 10, or 20 competitions by the time you meet. When you finally face them and lose, you tell yourself you're no good and never compete again. You may carry that judgment with you for life. Now if you're a colored belt and have not competed much or at all, it's never too late; it'll just take you a little while to catch up.
For first time competitors, early registration and 2 months preparation is required. It's significantly cheaper when you register early too. For non-first timers, out of respect to your sensei, coaches and teammates, register as early as possible for competitions. When you wait, you are holding out on your teammates who are already registered and limiting the TEAM's ability to prepare, including their ability to help you and your ability to help them.