It might not be obvious because of all the tournaments I’ve been in lately, but I actually hate competing. I don’t hate it as much as I used to, but I still have a long way to go before I enjoy it (except for winning, I don’t mind that). I like grappling, I like sparring, I like fighting…I just don’t want to do it in front of people. I don’t like rules, and I dread being judged. I can’t stand the way I feel before a competition. I can’t eat or sleep, and I can’t wait for it to just be over. I’m not comfortable with crowds, and I don’t really want to talk to anyone. Except to repeatedly tell them how much “I DO NOT WANT TO DO THIS!”.
Yet, all of those terrible things are some of the reasons I keep doing it. The first time I competed in karate kumite, I thought I was going to pass out before the match started. I had full tunnel vision and auditory exclusion, and I couldn’t stop shaking. Amazing, I still performed okay, and I even won. Every time I’ve competed since then it has gotten a little better. I used to start to panic about three weeks before a tournament, but now I’ve reduced that down to one or two days. I haven’t been able to completely calm the nerves, but I feel like I have a degree of control over them now. I know not everyone may understand my rationale in repeatedly subjecting myself to something that I don’t enjoy, that I don’t have to do, and that I even pay for, but sometimes strong fear calls for strong measures. I choose to fight. My goal is to someday be able to walk into a competition ring and feel like I am at home, to be relaxed and comfortable enough to truly enjoy the process. When I can do that, I’ll probably never feel the need to compete again, because I will have finally won.
Competing doesn’t just help to make me a better fighter, it’s also making me a stronger person. I am on a quest to conquer all the fears and flaws that stifle me. I will keep putting myself in what my mind perceives to be “harm’s way” until it no longer frightens me. I just hope that happens sooner rather than later, because I don’t know how much more of this competition crap my old body can take!
“I’d never seen the kata that you did at the tournament before, what’s it called, ‘Gina Holding Jackhammer’?” -E-Rock Sensei