Having competed since early on in my Taekwon-do career and still doing so to this present day, I have been to both local and international events and competed in sparring, patterns and destruction (as well as team events). I do not consider myself an ‘Ultimate’ competitor, but I have had a fairly successful competition career and met and competed against some great guys along the way. So, from my experience I offer the following advice for any student that wishes to participate in the sport side of Taekwon-do. The following is based on the light continuous format, which varies from light to heavy contact in many cases.
If you are serious about making your mark then preparation is an essential part of competition build up. Ideally you should start doing extra training at least two or three months in advance. When training at standard lessons you should push your fitness, this will not only make you fitter but develop that 'never say die' attitude, better known as indomitable spirit. All sparring should be serious against all opponents, no matter what grade. When sparring opponents who do not match you for ability, it should be used as a way to work on specific elements, such as foot work or those rear left leg turning kicks you don’t pull off as well as other techniques. If possible, select the best sparrer’s in your school as often as you can, even if they are bigger, faster, stronger and better than you. Work on various styles of sparring for the different types of fighters you may encounter – from the big heavy guys, to the ‘flick flick’ feet guys. For patterns and destruction, it’s a case of practice, practice, practice.. after all failing to prepare is preparing to fail.
Finally, ensure you read the rules of the tournament. Far to many competitors enter having never looked at the rules and then wonder why they lost or are getting pulled by referees for things!
Remember the 5 P’s - Perfect Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.
All serious students that are entering a competition put that extra bit into their training in the build up, so you need to go one step further. Extra sessions outside your own school club, at home or even better at other schools, will help immensely. Practice your patterns as often as possible, road work & shadow sparring are a big help for sparring as well. If possible, get a training partner for those home sessions, if not, hit the bag as often as possible!
Prepare your mind
Visualise the competition. If you know who your opponents usually are then visualise beating them ....easily. If you don't know who your opponents will be then just visualise yourself winning, over & over again. Often it’s not down to who's got the skill to win, but who's got the will to win.
As I said above, roadwork (running) is an essential part of your extra training. The nerves and the adrenaline a competition produces really take a lot out of you. Running & sprinting will aid in the loss and recovery of essential energy. As mentioned, bag work (as in a heavy hanging bag) is also a good stamina builder. Not only do you work on your stamina, but also your speed, power and accuracy. Always train in rounds and perform for longer than you will have to at a competition. You need to build up anaerobic and aerobic energy.
This is all about kicking and punching as fast as you can, but on target. Work on your speed, retraction and multiple/combination techniques. Use the heavy bag, focus mitts, floor to ceiling ball, shadow sparring or a partner if possible. Work on it also when sparring at classes, as a separate thing for simply sparring away. For ITF based competitions it’s better to kick faster than harder as it’s all about scoring points.
Top Tips for Successful Competition
by Stuart Anslow