Benefits of Competition For Kids
And why the martial arts are a great platform for competition
With the 13th Annual Inter School Competition coming up next month, we thought it would be a good time to talk about some of the benefits of encouraging kids to engage in competitive activities.
Some parents worry that encouraging too much competitiveness could be detrimental to the development of their children – encouraging an attitude of superiority in winners and damaging the self-esteem of those who fall short. We wouldn’t disagree that there are potential pitfalls to hyper-competitiveness, but a healthy competition should engender humility in its competitors, while building the confidence even of those whose efforts don’t quite manage to earn gold.
While competition isn’t the be-all and end-all of martial arts training, you may have gathered that at the SMA Centre we are strongly in favour of it as a developmental tool.
In true competition, no one’s a loser
This isn’t about everyone getting a trophy, medal, or certificate of attendance, but rather the opportunity that defeat gives a competitor to learn, improve, and get back on the horse.
We know that everyone’s child is a superstar, but no matter how amazing your boy or girl is, things will not always go their way, and they will face setbacks throughout their lives. Defeat only defines those who have never had to confront it before.
You might not like seeing your child suffer through coming up short, but sometimes letting them face failure is the best thing you can do. As long as you, or their coaches and trainers, are ready to contextualise the loss, explaining that, as long as they build on what loss has taught them, they will only get better and be even more prepared for the next competition. This is the sort of positive pressure that drives strong skills development.
True competition allows for true success
If you shelter your children from the possibility of defeat, you also rob them of the potential glory of victory.
While a defeated competitor should never be encouraged to see themselves as a loser, per se, there is no denying that there’s nothing quite like the warm glow of pride that comes from a hard-earned victory. That feeling of pride, of hard work having paid off, is what will keep your son or daughter pursuing success in every facet of life.
And, as long as the ability to humbly cope with defeat has been developed, then coping with victory – and not being a bad, braggadocious winner – should come quite naturally.
Emphasise the importance of preparation
A fight is not won in the ring, and a match is not one on the pitch. Winning or losing happens in training – the actual event is nothing but a formality, a manifestation of the blood, sweat, and tears poured in preparation.
“Train hard. Fight easy,” is a combat sports motto that, when you think about it, holds true in every area of life. You don’t present an idea to the board of directors, for example, without intense preparation. You don’t go on holiday to a foreign country without an itinerary, a to-do list, or a few common queries memorised in the local language.
Competition drives home the importance of preparation, because there is a special sort of shame associated with falling short when you know in your heart of hearts that you could have done more to prepare better.
In martial arts, competitive obstacles are faced alone
We value competition of all sorts but, of course, we believe specifically in the value and importance of the martial arts. Not only do the philosophical teachings of martial arts help to develop a person’s character, such that they should be able to handle both victory and defeat with calm aplomb, but there is something very empowering about taking to the fore and facing your obstacles alone.
Yes, there is a team behind every successful martial artist – without whom, success would be impossible – but at the end of the day, the individual practitioner will be in the ring with no one but his or her opponent. You cannot hide behind or be overshadowed by anyone else.
This helps to prepare a child for a life in which he or she may sometimes have to face challenges alone. It builds the resilience of character necessary to face anything that the world has to throw at them.
Build warriors for life – sign your children up with the SMA Centre today
At the SMA Centre, we believe in building people through the Chinese martial arts. Not just people, but life-warriors – individuals whose positive attitude and faith in themselves will see them through all the good and bad times that life has to offer.
We are regularly involved in local, national, and international competitions, and our successes have proven the value of the preparation we offer. Our teachers are accomplished martial artists, their skills sharpened in competition around the world, and our classes are structured to offer an extensive range of martial arts training – from striking to grappling.
Contact us if you want to sign yourself or your kids up for world-class martial arts training. And if you want to see how well our kids do in competition, check out the Inter School Competition on 2 November at the SMA Centre in Rivonia.