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Bowley Kenpo Karate » Personal Stories, Philosophy » Lessons from Big D

Lessons from Big D

A few weeks ago, five students and I attended the Big D annual tournament in Dallas, Texas. It’s one of the largest, open tournaments in the area, and for us it’s special as it also has Kenpo forms divisions. This was the third year in a row my daughters and I entered the event. Even so, there are two lessons I took away from the great event this year.

Allison, in pink gear, sparring in her first tournament at Big D

Allison, in pink gear, sparring in her first tournament at Big D

First time competitors – When you’ve been to a tournament before, especially the same tournament, it’s easy to get into the routine of what’s going on. Look for your ring assignments, catching up with folks you only see at tournaments, etc. But two of the five students we took to Big D had never competed in any tournament before. One of them had never even been to a karate event like this before. For them it was a new, eye-opening spectacle. That’s important to remember. You shouldn’t take for granted the adrenaline rush new competitors feel, akin to the first time they spar. Whether it’s your students or not, there are people there who’ve never been there before. As competitors, spectators, coaches, or instructors we have the responsibility to be “good” competitors and encourage the majesty of the event. Otherwise, it could be someone’s last event too. Our two first-time competitors both placed in events and seem to be hooked for entering more tournaments.

People want to help – With so many competitors in so many rings, it can be hard to keep up with where you need to be at all times. One of our students in the 10-11 age group had 55 competitors in her division. Another in the 12-13 age group had 32 in her division. It can also be hard to hear the PA system for announcements. This was certainly the case for us at Big D. We had one student who we thought missed his division. Turns out they didn’t run the division because no one showed up. But we talked to the tournament organizer, the head ring judge, and the scorekeepers. Everyone was more than willing to help, and they restarted the division for our student. He was happy, we were happy, and everyone left satisfied. On this day the martial arts community really helped our student out and showed how great a community it actually is.

James, in white, sparring at Big D for the first time

James, in white, sparring at Big D for the first time

Tournaments are a great place to test your competitive fire as a martial artist. You can interact with students of other styles and soak in the glory of worldwide martial arts. Every person who embraces the competitive spirit was at one point a new person on the tournament scene. Remember that feeling as you help fellow karate enthusiasts. It makes for an outstanding event; like Big D was.

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Sam Bowley
McKinney, TX


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