Lessons from competition: praising effort and growth
The 7-year-old girl was beaming while she held her first place trophy for sparring in this past weekend’s karate tournament. But the words that came out of her mouth were about the kata competition, in which she came in fourth.
“Mommy, I didn’t even cry when I didn’t place,” she said.
The mom praised her effort and her emotional growth. In the last week before the tournament, the young karate student had practiced hard, but it hadn’t been enough against her competitors who nailed their forms. The girl said, “I can work harder for the next time.”
Competitions are teachable moments. At our martial arts schools, there is one annual tournament a year in order to give our students those teachable moments.
This past weekend, we saw students overcome: two teens placed in weapons sparring, when in class they were insistent that they not compete at all
because they were afraid of a new form of the sport.
An adult student won first place in sparring, the first physical competition in which they had ever bested others after a lifelong battle with asthma.
A five-year-old girl got up and performed in front of the judges, even though she was petrified.
These students – adults and children alike – were able to push past their fears with the support of their martial arts teachers, instructors, fellow students and, of course, their parents.
We award participation trophies or medals each year, to all those who don’t get first, second or third. In some venues, this might be seen as placating. But, putting yourself out there to compete isn’t easy.
Many people stay at home and don’t test themselves. So, even if this tournament wasn’t their moment, they deserve recognition for trying.
At competition time, teaching ourselves and our kids to win and lose with grace, is directly connected to praising effort and growth. Because, ultimately, success doesn’t come in life from winning all the time, it comes through hard work, persistence and pushing forward even when the obstacles put before you seem insurmountable.
Our schools proudly bring the traditional martial arts of karate, jujitsu and aikido to our communities with classes for adults and kids.
New Paltz Karate: also serving Highland, Rosendale, Gardiner, Modena, Plattekill and Wallkill.
TOK Brooklyn: also serving New York City, Sunnyside Queens, Bushwick, Williamsburg, East Williamsburg, Flatbush, Ridgewood, Bed-Stuy (Bedford-Stuyvesant), Maspeth, and Greenpoint.
TOK Kinnelon: also serving Butler, Pompton Lakes, Riverdale, and Pequannock, West Milford, Bloomingdale and Wayne.
TOK Pleasant Valley: also serving Poughkeepsie, LaGrange, Lagrangeville, Millbrook, Hyde Park, Salt Point and Verbank.
TOK East Fishkill: also serving Hopewell Junction, East Fishkill, Wappingers, Fishkill, Beacon, and Stormville