Preparing for Your Next Tournament: 6 Tournament Prep Tips

Tournament prep tips–with the tournament coming up on March 30th, I’ve had a lot of students asking me what they can do to train and prepare for it. The most basic thing is to be in class as much as possible, so the instructors can help you get ready and give you specific tips.

Here are some of my tournament prep tips for training outside the dojo.

Before I outline what I focus on when I train outside the dojo, I just want to emphasize that the more you use your body, the more upkeep you will have to do.

What does that mean? More stretching. I stretch twice a day: once in the morning, and once in the evening. In the morning, I don’t like to bend because the spine isn’t ready for that, so I do a quick routine of stretch kicks and standing stretches. In the evening, when joints are naturally warmer and looser, I will stretch for flexibility–but only AFTER I’ve warmed up. After I take a hot shower or soak, I usually stretch again, hitting all my problem muscles a second time.

Forms Tournament Prep Tips:

1. The Sensei Rule: I practice primary and backup forms each 5 times a day. This ingrains the movements in muscle memory, and makes freezing or messing up under pressure much less likely.

2. Sometimes, I tweak the form’s movements and timing to make it flashy and showy, or to change the style to something the judges might be more likely to recognize and appreciate.

3. I train with stances lower and longer than normal. Nerves tend to shorten stances, and it’s good for my leg strength anyway.

Sparring Tournament Prep Tips:

1. Cardio cardio cardio endurance. I use the following exercises:

  • Hike, jog, sprint. (If anyone wants my specific sprinting routine, see me after class)
  • Pick 3-5 kicks. Do 50 sets of each, as fast as possible, without stopping to rest.
  • Do 5 (or more) forms in a row without stopping to rest.
  • Do _x_’s. A I like 3×3’s, which are 3 3-minute rounds, during which I set a timer, then I jump rope, shadow box, do squat thrusts, do jumping jacks, etc. After the timer goes off, I take 1-2 minutes to rest, then do it again. 3×3’s can become 3×5’s or 5×5’s for a challenge.

2. Work on throwing combinations by practicing required fighting combinations.

3. Practice the 5 basic techniques (punches, backfists, front round and side kicks) slow and relaxed. Relaxation actually builds speed, and practicing slow allows for focus on eliminating telegraphic or wasteful motion, while also building muscle memory.

So there are some things I do. Hope they are useful! Leave a comment with your own tournament prep tips!

About Sensei/YDN Caitlin

Sensei Yudanjanim Caitlin is a 2nd degree black belt, senior instructor, administrative assistant, and student of Tae Kwon Do, Karate, and Arnis at Northwest School of Martial Arts.
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