Tournament Time: The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Defeat



Everyone wants to win first place.  It’s human nature.  No one goes to a tournament hoping to come in last.  But someone has to.  Last tournament I was out on the first round of sparring, counter aggression, and board breaking.  So this cycle I worked harder on counter aggression, trying to figure out what the judges were looking for. 

I worked on creating more intensity in my counters. 


Here are a few ideas to help increase your scores for next tournament.


Tournament sparring is a quick game of tag.  You have to tag your partner before they tag you.  But you get to use your feet too.  The biggest problem I see in children is not getting close enough to count as a point.  We tell our kids martial art classes to touch your partner’s uniform.  So if you didn’t win your rounds in sparring this cycle try to get closer to your partner with your kicks and punches.


Sometimes it’s hard to know how to please judges in form competition. So let’s talk a bit about the artistic elements of forms, traditional, free design, or extreme have the same artistic elements being judged.


  1. Timing:  the hand stops moving at the same time the foot stops moving.
  2. Balance: no extra movement needed to stay in the stance.
  3. Precision of movement: proper chambers, proper execution and target areas are precise.
  4. Good attitude.
  5. Good eye control: eyes should be focused just past your hand or foot technique, not wandering.
  6. Exact line of movement:  no extra movement.  Straight line techniques are a straight line and circular techniques travel in the shortest possible circle.
  7. Proper hand and foot shape for each technique
  8. No missing, or added movements and the movements are in proper order.
  9. Proper power
  10. Proper rhythm
  11. Good stances
  12. Proper focus
  13. Proper tempo

(from the Tiger Rock Student Manual, with some brief explanations)


So with all of the above criteria it makes more sense when one judge gives a 4 and another judge gives a 2 ½.  We are watching all of the artistic elements of the form and coming up with a score.  No one is ever equally great on all of those 13 elements.  So as judges we are watching for all and coming up with a determination compared with everyone else in the ring.  Sometimes one competitor will have sharp, powerful hand techniques, but not so good stances.  The next competitor will have awesome stances, but not so powerful hand techniques with extra movement.  One judge may think the stances out weigh the power and visa versa, so you get a variant in scores


I received a 2 ½ from my instructor this tournament…sigh…so I need to break my form down into the elements to see where I need to improve.  Next tournament, my goal is no 2-½ s.  I’d suggest working on a few of the above list at a time to increase your artistic performance.


Use any disappointments as motivation to train harder for the next tournament.  Miss Bartko was disappointed in her results in November’s taekwondo tournament, worked hard, and came back to win an all time high of 5 first place trophies!  What a great example of perseverance to all of us.


Hope to see you many of you competing in the next tournament, which is the World Championships in Birmingham, AL.