I’m just a few days away from competition again, and I must admit I’m getting excited! At this weekend’s National Qualifier in Colorado I only have 2 other people in my bracket, so essentially all I would have to do is weigh in and I will have qualified without competing. I have had a couple of people ask me if I still plan on fighting since I have already qualified. Of course! As athletes we rarely get an opportunity to compete when there is little or no pressure. These situations are perfect to just have fun, try new things and remember why you do your sport in the first place.

These situations really show what someone is made of. I am always surprised that even Olympians will skip competing because there is nothing to be gained from it. I don’t know how this is in other sports, but it plagues Taekwondo. Once someone is successful at something, they suddenly stop fighting anything other than what they absolutely have to. Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a need to relax after long training blocks, but too much of anything is bad for you. Extra time in the ring in Taekwondo can be just as important as the 6 weeks of hard training that leads up to competition, especially when preparing for a big tournament.

Obviously, there are some lines that need to be drawn when looking at what tournaments to compete in. An Olympic gold medalist has no business competing at a local tournament with beginners. But, if there is going to be decent competition and there isn’t a much more important tournament just around the corner, then why not fight?

I have heard every excuse in the book in my sport. If you can think of it, no matter how ludicrous, I have probably heard it. My favorite was from a successful fighter who said he didn’t want to give anyone the opportunity to beat him, until it was completely necessary. This is funny to me, because as soon as you stop taking risks, you stop getting better. Who cares if you fail! Its about getting back up, dusting yourself off and progressing in your skill. You have to want to win and get better; enough to take a risk. Otherwise what are you doing?

I don’t know about some of my peers’ approaches to their sport, but I started Taekwondo because it was fun! If you don’t get out of it what you originally wanted or liked, why still do it? Remember to take joy in what you do, and getting better will take care of itself.

Be willing to get better…. If you aren’t, don’t be surprised when you get the results!