To compete or not compete, that is the question.

As a former internationally ranked competitor, I understand the benefits tournaments provide.

Sport karate can help us prepare for life as we develop discipline, confidence, and resilience, and recognize the importance of time management, goal setting, individual achievement, teamwork and a positive mindset.

Competition, however, is often a double-edged sword. Winning feeds the ego, while losing may breed disappointment and inadequacy.

In contrast, non-competitive training provides a relaxed, and in the view of scores of karateka, more balanced experience, as students engage in an activity that promotes growth, mental, physical, and spiritual health, and pleasure. Moreover, it delivers many of the same life skills as sport practice, minus the focus on winning.

Participants come to martial arts with needs and desires, and it is the responsibility of their sensei or coach is to bring out the best in each student inside – and/or – outside the ring.

At Northern Karate Schools, whether students compete or not, they are:

  • Valued as an individual versus their position on a podium.
  • Nurtured and supported as they progress at their own pace, graduating based on NKS criteria and personal advancement, not how they stack up against “the competition.”
  • Evaluated against age-specific requirements. While time-in-rank is a factor in dan promotion, there are no fixed deadlines attached to skill development. The shelf-life of an elite athlete is all too brief. As a result, in a competition-centric school, students may feel a sense of urgency to demonstrate medal-worthiness in a set timeframe.
  • Enriched by a broad-based syllabus as opposed to a limited list of showcase elements.
  • Encouraged to put into practice the NKS student creed, striving for “Personal Best” rather thanaiming for perfection or collecting hardware.

    The answer to the question to compete or not compete isn’t YES or NO, but instead, “why” or “why not.” What do you want and need from your martial practice, and does your budo environment support these aims?

    At Northern Karate Schools’ 14 GTA dojo, we’re proud all NKS students – from 3 to 85 years young – are “winners”, whether they’re amassing trophies or titles, or simply emerging victorious against life’s challenges.