How to train properly for Karate competition + belt testing
What do you do when you’re completely exhausted, spent and “done” but there’s still time left on the clock or you have another match coming up? Fatigue can be your toughest opponent, simultaneously attacking your thoughts, emotions and body, trying to get you to quit. Fatigue is not all in your head, but how you react and respond to it can determine how it affects your performance. Sports psychologists investigating the “motivational intensity theory” find that when the going gets tough, the degree of effort the people put out is determined by the justifiability-is it worth it?-and attainability-is it possible to do it?-of the goal. So first and foremost you must have a clear goal in mind. Score a point, not have a point scored against you, run out the time, etc.
Interestingly, research shows that those same motivational factors also determine whether your cardiovascular system will react to help you exert more effort when you need it most. This means that motivational factors under your control can and will affect your performance when you’re fatigued.
Building on these scientific findings, you discover two immediate implications: It’s essential that you set goals and use them constantly to drive your motivation; and when the demands are high, feeling confident and keeping a positive attitude will help you push through. Fighting through fatigue is really about preparation, not just about digging deep during the heat of competition. How do you prepare to sprint when you’re running on fumes? Here’s a three pronged approach:
1-Train to the specific energy demands of your sport.
The human body uses different systems of energy depending on the intensity and duration of the activity. For example long distance running is probably not the best way to train for a karate match. Instead, karate (Or most martial arts) generally require multiple, intermittent bursts of power at maximal or near maximal levels, with short periods of rest in between. The oxygen and metabolic energy demands are quite different. Think also about the mental demands of your competition environment such as lights, crowds and bad calls from the judges, and prepare for those in training, as well.
2-Minimize wasted energy.
Master Ohsuka always taught that Wado is about using the short course. No wasted movement or energy. You must develop your mental game. Tension, anxiety and worry also consume energy and personal resources. Negative thoughts compete with your preparation and focus. Constant tension in your muscles makes them tire more quickly. Jittery feelings, if you perceive them negatively activate your sympathetic nervous system and cause your body to prepare for a threat, potentially using lots of energy in a way that hinders your performance. By learning how to control your thoughts and emotions you can minimize the amount of energy that’s wasted. The Japanese use the term mushin or no mind. Breathing is an important part of this. You can’t hold your breath. Learning to breathe from your diaphragm and doing it regularly, even under demanding physical conditions must be a priority. Kata is a great way to learn to breathe properly.
3-Maximize positive, productive energy.
You must have confidence. It’s essential to enter a competition with a deeply rooted faith in your own ability to perform well and succeed. This starts in training. Try to eliminate unproductive thoughts or self limiting beliefs. When your training keep your focus on the present. Avoid looking at the clock or worrying about how much more time is left in a workout. Just perform in the moment. How do you further develop that confident energy? Remember past successes, rehearse and repeat positive messages about your skills. Make up your own cue word or words that will bring you back into focus should you find yourself starting to lose your confidence. Words like Fudochi. Focus, bonsai etc.
The more you add these things to your regular training the more they will become a part of your competition performance.
Vince Lombardi, a great football coach and motivator once said “Fatigue makes cowards of us all”