Deconstructing Taekwon-Do

Tournaments: An Exercise in Zen, pt. 1: Intro

Taekwon-Do tournaments: an exercise in zen

Don’t you love Taekwon-Do tournaments? All that sitting around and waiting. Then warming up and waiting. Trying to figure out when your division will be called to compete. And sitting around and waiting some more… But after a few hours your patience leads to that glorious moment when your name is called, and you step up to compete for two whole minutes only to lose your first match and realize that you’re done for the rest of the day. And then you sit and wait for everyone else to finish.

In all seriousness, tournaments are great. It’s fun to go toe-to-toe with people that you don’t see everyday—people you may have never seen before in your life. It’s fun to test yourself in competition with hardware to back up the bragging rights.

It also helps you progress. I’ve seen plenty of students improve like mad in the few weeks after a tournament. I’m not sure why that is, but it seems to be true.

But if you’ve been to a few Taekwon-Do tournaments, I’m sure you’ve noticed they come with their fair share of frustrations. I mean aside from spending a lot of time waiting for almost no time in the ring… The judging isn’t always consistent and sometimes seems downright unfair (but this happens all too often in sports anyway). The tournaments can be poorly organized. Rules and scoring aren’t always clear to competitors and spectators. Some events aren’t as exciting as they could be. And—this is the one that really gets me—silver and bronze medals in patterns often don’t go to the most deserving athletes.

There isn’t much I can say as far as organization goes. If you’re hosting a tournament, get your act together. I realize that this is easier said than done, but please put the planning into it. Organizing your judges can play a huge role in this, and I’ll talk about that later. But other than that, do your research and put in the time beforehand. It will make it go smoother for everyone.

I don’t see much that can be done about the time spent in the ring (or lack thereof), either. A round-robin system would work for sparring, but it would just take an already long day and make it much, much longer.

As for the other things, I have plenty to say. So much, in fact, that as a single article it would be obscenely long. To save you from the boredom I’ve decided to split this into several posts. Look for them over the next little while.

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