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Tournament Forms: It’s All in the Details

Tournament forms are all about the details. Check out this video of Rika Usami (a world tournament forms champion). She’s doing Kosokun Dai. She does a few of the moves slightly differently than in our Seito Shito-ryu Karate version, but that’s not important for now.

What is important is to watch her presence in the ring and sense of timing. This is a form that is performed at a very high level, with 100% attention to detail. Nothing is out of place and there is no wasted motion. She is totally focused on her imaginary opponents, and you can tell that she’s winning the imaginary fight.

For anyone who’s never done a tournament before, this video should give you a sense of the atmosphere. There’s lots of noise and motion going on in the background, and you can bet that your focus and mental discipline will be tested when competing.

Tournament forms are done a little differently for a competition than for a test. The idea is to showcase your moves, your strong stances, your powerful and crisp hand techniques, as well as your mental focus.

In tournament forms, small details will set you apart from the competition:

  • Eye contact is huge–you don’t want to look like you’re distracted.
  • Timing–you want to pause in certain places to draw the judges attention to your techniques. You also don’t want to rush through it.
  • Crispness–as hard as it is, in order to get that “snap” type of power, you have to be able to relax under pressure.
  • Strong stances–stances are a frequent victim of nerves, so make sure they’re long and low.

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