Martial Artists
David Clifton
With the start of a new calendar year also comes a new season for most sport karate leagues, I thought I would be a good opportunity to explore what leagues and choices are out there for today’s competitors. With so many choices locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally available to most competitors what are the options that most people find appealing?

First, let’s agree that the advantage with any local tournament is proximity. A league that offers good fair competition and is close will always be a top choice for many competitors because it doesn’t take huge chunks of time or money to be able to test one’s skills against other martial artists. While the close nature of the event allows for you to test your skills it also doesn’t usually provide you with much variety. You end up seeing the same competitors year after year and the same officials also. The size and professionalism of some events on a local level may also leave a lot to be desired, not to mention most lack standardized rules so competitors are left wondering what the rules are going to be for that particular day.

The next level for most would be regional type events. These events are usually more organized and have a larger attendance than a typical local event would. Regional events tend to still be close for most people in the area to attend allowing for a short drive out of town and might require a one-night stay. The advantage for most competitors is that they offer more competitors for you to compete against and are usually much more formally structured with a defined set of rules. Most regional events also tend to have higher point values assigned to them because of the stiffer level of competition by whatever league they belong to which tends to give you advantages in seeding or overall standings at years end.

Karate tournament

National events are usually defined as events that attract competitors from across the country and represent some of the highest competition that most people will experience. They are usually multi day events with most competitors arriving a day or two before and staying for the entire weekend. Money and time are both a requirement to compete at this level since most can’t just jump in a car to get to these events regularly. NASKA, which is the largest open sport karate league in the United States has 11 world tour events in 2022 which requires anyone following the league to dedicate time and money to chase some of the highest level of competition available and ultimately a NASKA title.The last type of event is what I would consider the pinnacle of competition which is International. These events can be both extremely large and extremely deep with talent and require international flights and usually a weeks’ worth of time out of the competitor’s schedule. While there are many debates about which international leagues have the top competitors there can be know doubt that seeing competitors from across the world standing across from you brings an extra level of exhilaration. While International events give you some of the best competition, they can also pose some challenges at times with travel requirements and language barriers, so following an established International organization is imperative.

So which type of competition is right for you? I would argue that it really depends on what you are looking for and what your time and finances allow. I do still occasionally hear from certain instructors that they don’t allow their students to compete or that the competition in their area is rigged. What they are missing is that competition only makes us grow as people and martial artist. Staying in your comfort zone only brings stagnation in both skill and mindset. There are so many leagues to choose from that if you don’t like one then try another.

To close I will say that every league has their pluses and minuses so choosing one takes a lot of time a patience to see which one fits you best. Try not to look at just one event before making up your mind since you usually want to look at leagues over a period of time to see if they fit your needs as a competitor.

Martial artists

David Clifton

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