Are Martial Art Tournaments getting worse?

During a few months, I have been gathering data with the help of some instructors, parents, and competitors of all ages. I have asked face to face many as well, at karate studios and even on a facebook group called “World Martial Arts Directory”.

Here are some of the questions I asked:

  • What are the things you don’t like about tournaments?
  • What problems did you see in most tournaments?
  • Why do you think there were not many competitors in your division?
  • Why are you not competing with other divisions?

These were the some of the questions. Now here are some of the answers, I will not reveal the names of the ones who answered for privacy because some of them are well-known competitors and instructors that you see at many tournaments.

Things they don’t like about tournaments.

  • Judges don’t know the rules.
  • Sometimes Judges are not black belts.
  • Prices get too high at the door, just to make money.
  • Organizers should have combo prices instead of adding divisions.
  • Organizers show up to collect and leave at some point and return when the tournament is almost finished.
  • Trophies are made out of cheap material.
  • “I prefer nice big medals, instead of towers of plastic”.
  • They charge for video pass and everyone is on the mat with cell phones recording everything and I have to pay to use my camera.
  • I cannot take trophies on the plane, they get broken, I prefer medals.

Problems in most tournaments.

  • One of the judges did not like my instructor and he was the only one who gave me a low score just because of that.
  • Organizers let competitors compete on divisions they shouldn’t.
  • Organizers leave judges with nothing but some chairs and they have to figure out what to do.
  • Judges are not fair, they let their friends win even if they suck.
  • “I had to KO the other guy because the judges were not counting any of my points, not fair at all”
  • “I went to a tournament to compete and when I went to buy my competition tickets people were so rude! like angry to see me, like I was bothering them or something”
  • I could not compete because judges and organizers screwed up their divisions, then there were no refunds.
  • The tournament was in a High School, the bathroom was a mess, the service a mess, instructors were swearing at each other in front of parents.

Why not many competitors in your division.

  • Because of the bad reputation of the organizers.
  • Because of bad judging on that specific tournament.
  • Because the trophies are nothing to be proud of.
  • Because the organizer doesn’t do his job.

Not competing with other divisions.

  • Because is too expensive besides all the money spent traveling, hotel, food, and competition.
  • On some divisions judges let competitors cheat and if you say something they disqualify you.

If you want to have more competitors and everyone happy, then take the time to organize it well, get nice big medals like the ones from Jiu-Jitsu and everyone will come to compete for those instead of plastic towers I have to throw in the garage, I love medal I can have them anywhere. “Black Belt competitor from Los Angeles, CA”

Peter A Soto is a Black Belt with more than 20 years of experience, athlete, teacher and webmaster. Based in the city of San Diego, California.

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