Posts Tagged ‘Competition’

Why I compete, even if I don’t win

Posted: February 22, 2018 by Jonathan Fader in Competition
Tags: , ,

First off, before anyone freaks out, no I am not competing in Krav Maga. Nor do I support competitions in Krav Maga. The reason for this is history. With all martial art styles, the started for the purpose of self-defence once they start competitions they often quickly become a sport and lose much of the practical application.

As I advise all practising kravists what you need to do is cross train to further develop your skills. If you do, you may find one of the other styles that are more sports-oriented will offer you an outlet to get that competitive bug out of the way. I recommend, MMA, BJJ, Judo, Wrestling, boxing and kickboxing/Muay Thai.

Jonathans Bronze.jpg

For me, BJJ is what I like and practice and compete in. So why do I compete considering the following:

  1. I am not nor have I ever been a naturally gifted athlete
  2. I am not by any stretch of the imagination the best in my division
  3. I am not a super competitive person who must win.

Yet, I still compete. I have many students, or have talked to many people who just don’t want to compete because they know they won’t win and to that, I say so what?

I see three general categories of competitors.

  1. Tha Natural Athlete – to these people, winning may be everything, It has either become normal to them because they are simply better physically and it has become their standard, and competition is their outlet to show off their talents
  2. The Committed martial artist – These people may not be the best physically but they still win. They are in the gym almost every day training and honing their skills. To them, it is a lifestyle and a way of being.
  3. The Casual Martial artist – Someone who trains on a casual basis but still compete because it seems like fun.

No matter what group you are in there is something they all have in common when it comes to competition. Win, lose or Draw every one comes out of competitions a little better. For no matter the outcome you will learn something.

Maybe despite winning, you almost lost and found a hole in your game or strategy. Maybe you lost not because of skill but because of your cardio. Maybe you lost because the skill in your division is simply higher than where you are at and you need to train more.

For me personally, I check all of these boxes. Due to a variety of reasons, I haven’t been able to train hard enough, for a long time my cardio was shit and there are definitely lots of holes in my game. The thing is even though at least for now I know I  probably won’t win, I will still compete.

I always come out of competitions learning something new. and I always work towards fixing it. So far every competition I have for the most part, even if I wasn’t happy with the results the reality was each time I was a little better.

Over the last several competitions I have been working my cardio and each time I am a little less tired. So despite not winning gold, I have improved my self.

Over the last several competitions I have been working on my game and each time I am a little closer to implementing it and I have improved myself.

Over the last several competitions I have identified what I am doing wrong both defensively and offensively and I have improved myself.

While I fully Accept that I was and always will be a better coach and instructor than competitor I still plan on competing.

For me, It’s not about the winning, although as I am only human, It would be nice, it’s about being better every day. While I fully Accept that I was and always will be a better coach and instructor than competitor I still plan on competing. On that note, a coach or instructor who encourages their students to compete but has never competed or doesn’t compete may just be a hypocrite. As coaches, we tell them winning doesn’t matter, but then some fear competing cause they know they won’t win. But if winning doesn’t matter then why do you tell your students that and why don’t you compete? Being a hypocrite is the worst and is something I hate passionately.

So I compete, win lose or draw, I always improve and perhaps one day I will start seeing gold, and if not, its no big deal. The goal is improvement and competitions are one of the best ways to push your own personal boundaries and comfort zones and grow a little bit every time. For if you won’t, or refuse to push your comfort zones, you will never grow and be better.

I can only ever encourage everyone to take the same path, but even if you don’t, I will keep training, keep competing and keep getting better.

So get out there, and do not fear to lose. Just compete and have fun.


Refereeing: A commentary

Posted: December 14, 2017 by Warren Chow in Competition
Tags: , ,


In addition to training in Krav Maga, I am involved in the judo community. For instance, I am a referee for various judo tournaments that are held in the province each year, and I have refereed for matches ranging from white belts to black belts.  In my competition days as a teenager I always took the referee for granted and didn’t appreciate the value that they brought to the match, other than to award points based on actions that the competitors would successfully execute.  However, as I evolved from being a competitor to an adult recreational practitioner, I became interested in becoming a referee and giving back to the community.  I’m unsure about other martial arts, but being a judo referee is an unpaid, volunteer position and, in fact, often involves being hundreds of dollars out of pocket having to travel to the various tournament locations.  So, “giving back” means more than just donating your time.  However, I enjoy refereeing and consider the expenses a cost of having a hobby.  Whether it is judo, or any other sport that requires referees, the role is vital because it allows the athlete to compete to their utmost degree and being in a safe, controlled environment, while being monitored by an objective 3rd party.

When I first started refereeing I was very nervous. Although I was already familiar with the point system and the various calls that the referee would make during the match, and I had taken the two-day seminar that went into much more detail on the duties of the referee before, during, and after the match, I still wasn’t prepared for being out there on the mat trying my best to make the right calls at the right times.  In fact, the first tournament I refereed at was a simple, low stake, “inter-club tournament” for juniors, but I was very nervous and was stalling as long as I could until my daughter threatened to call me out and embarrass me in front of everyone unless I got my butt out there on the mat “right now!”.  I did not have fun that day, but I also knew that it was the first time I refereed matches in real-time, with real winners and losers, and that the experience would (or should) only get better from that day forward.

161203-14.jpgThe referee is responsible for much more than is evident. In judo, the referee ensures that the mat area is clean of debris before the match, the competitors have regulation gis that fit properly, and follow the proper protocols for bowing and being prepared to fight.  During the match the referee controls the flow of the engagement by awarding points or penalties appropriately and pausing the match at the necessary times.  After the fight is over, the proper winner must be announced, and the protocols followed for disengaging from the match.  The top three priorities for a referee are ensuring the match is conducted in a safe manner to prevent injuries, being objective and fair towards both competitors, and keeping the flow of the match moving along.  As with anything with rules, the application of the rules becomes more of an art than a science.

In the referee seminar, one of the points that the instructor stressed was that, in the end, the right person needs to be declared the winner. Anything else is a lower priority.  This may seem obvious, but as the competitors are fighting, time is ticking, and points or penalties are being awarded left and right, and it can be confusing for the scorekeepers to keep up.  Although it is rare, there has been more than one occasion in which a coach on the sidelines is yelling to have the score changed because there was some mix-up, and they are right to be upset.  In the junior matches the stakes are not very high since they are regarded as developmental tournaments and learning opportunities.  However, in the more senior matches it is vital that the correct scoring is applied as the outcome can directly impact and influence the athletes’ candidacy for moving on to higher level tournaments.  Or, in the case of the annual Canadian Judo Nationals, can determine who gets to stand on top of the podium and be declared “The Best in Canada”.  As the instructor constantly repeated, any call can be overruled and corrected before the fight is officially over and the winner is declared.  And with that in mind, it made my learning curve for refereeing much less stressful.

As I’m progressing through my refereeing career it’s becoming easier and easier. With each tournament I attend, I learn a bit more and since I’m less nervous, I can focus more on smoothing out my rough edges and improve on making better judgements.  In the beginning I was stressed because, as the referee, you’re out there on the mat along with both of the competitors, so it’s easy to be self-conscious.  However, as my daughter continued to remind me, “Nobody’s looking at you, they’re watching the athletes.  They don’t care about the ref!”.  The more experience you gain as a referee allows you to progress through the various levels, and you can then be a referee at tournaments in other provinces, or at the national level.  Of course, if one had started refereeing early enough, you can gain enough experience to referee at international competitions in other countries, up to and including the Olympics.  However, for myself I’m content with staying at the provincial level for now, but who knows what will happen in the future.

In most sports there are various roles available in which a person can participate, whether it’s as an athlete, a coach, or a referee. Of course, as one gets older it becomes more difficult to be a competitor so the natural progression from there is to be a coach or a referee, if the sport requires one.  As you progress through your sporting career I hope that you remain involved even after you can no longer compete, since the experience and knowledge that you’ve gained would be invaluable input for the next generation of athletes.  Let them learn from your experience and give back to the community that helped form you to be the person you are today.  Since I find it exciting to watch competitive judo, refereeing gives me the opportunity to stay involved in the matches at an intimate level.  Also, I get the best seat in the house!

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Ryan Steacy is a movie Armourer and is a 21 year BCR reservist in the Canadian armed forces. He is also a firearms expert and marksmen and is the co-founder of BC’s own Action Rifle League . In his past life he also taught Defendo for many years and dabbled in MMA and kick boxing. He even once went to help protect ships from Somali pirates as a private military contractor. Ryan is an all round interesting guy and is a good friend of our own Borhan Jiang.

Warriors Den Graphic

Warriors Den Graphic

Jonathan Fader -Scott Boudreau - Borhan Jiang

Recently I was asked why our kids do not spar like in other martial arts classes and if we could start including it in our class. My answer is always the same, NO! Kids should not spar and anyone who makes kids spar, allowing for blows to the head, is either stuck in the past or does not care about the health and well-being of their kids.

Aside from the obvious facts that kid’s bodies have yet to develop fully, that their coordination is not consistent, and that their ability to control their power is questionable, recent years have produced numerous studies outlining the dangers of repeated head trauma that can stem from sparring.

The concept of Punch Drunk is nothing new and though past research has been done on the subject it isn’t until recently that it is actually being taken seriously. Previously, people simply thought it was just a normal part of the fight game, in those times the fight game would have been boxing.

It only takes a quick glance at interviews of boxers in their later years, like Mohammad Ali and other greats, to see that there is clearly a problem. Many are now affected by mental health problems, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s, linked to the sport. The tale is always the same, repeated serious or mild head traumas, like concussions from repeated unchecked blows, can cause long lasting effects. Is this acceptable? Not really, and just now science is breaking down the facts when it comes to head trauma.

Here’s the quick break down: a blow that causes a concussion is not that bad, however if a person undergoes a concussion and isn’t given enough time to properly heal, serious compounding issues arise. Unfortunately, the problem is that most people don’t even realize they were concussed in the first place.

More recent times have seen the criticism of American Football.

In a study by Alan Schwartz commissioned by the NFL in September 2009 he reported that:

“Alzheimer’s disease or similar memory related diseases appear to have been diagnosed in the league’s former players vastly more often than in the national population — including a rate of 19 times the normal rate for men ages 30 through 49.”

Another side effect that repeated head trauma can cause is reduced levels of testosterone, growth hormone, and various other important natural chemicals required to function properly.

There has also been a lot of controversy in the MMA world on fighters taking human growth hormone. But no one ever asks why so many fighters take it. Yes, one could say they take it to perform better. However the truth is probably closer to them needing to take it in order to return to normal functioning levels, both physically and mentally. Why? Because of the old school training methods or gyms that do not take head trauma seriously, causing serious brain damage in the fighters and requiring growth hormones to return to these normal levels.

How important is Human Growth Hormone?

Numerous studies have shown that human growth hormone affects the nervous system in many more ways than previously thought. A published article by Neruoendocrinol 2000 Oct:21 (4): 330-48 Nyberg F Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden says:

“GH replacement therapy was found to improve the psychological capabilities in adult GH deficient (GHD) patients. Furthermore, beneficial effects of the hormone on certain functions, including memory, mental alertness, motivation, and working capacity, have been reported. Likewise, GH treatment of GHD children has been observed to produce significant improvement in many behavioral problems seen in these individuals. Studies also indicated that GH therapy affects the cerebrospinal fluid levels of various hormones and neurotransmitters. Further support that the CNS is a target for GH emerges from observations indicating that the hormone may cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and from studies confirming the presence of GH receptors in the brain.”

Think about it, this hormone is extremely important for a person to feel good both mentally and physically. If a child begins to receive head traumas and is too young to understand the dangers of being hit in the head after being concussed, then the lifelong trauma could be devastating. It could not only stunt their growth but also slow their mental processing, and cause depression among numerous other life altering issues.

A question you may have then is, why on earth should adults be sparring if it can be so dangerous? The answer is a simple one; we now know the dangers of head trauma unlike the past where it was just the way of things. Sparring is a very important part of learning Krav Maga. I have said it before but I will say it again, punch a black belt in the face and he is a brown belt, punch him again and he is a blue belt etc…

We all work the same way, trauma to us is the same as trauma to a would-be assailant. However we need to learn to react to being hit so that we can appropriately defend ourselves.

You can learn all the techniques you want but if you fail to apply them then they are useless. Sparring is the only way to overcome the natural reaction to panic and freeze under stress. On the other hand, if you get attacked in the street and you have conditioned yourself to react, rather than panicking, your body will react without thinking.

However this is not to say sparring should not be regulated. For example our Krav Maga sparring rules are as such:

  1. You must have a mouth guard and appropriate face protection (for Krav Maga that means head gear with a face mask).
  2. You are only to spar at 30% unless told otherwise.
  3. If you get hit hard you are done sparring for the day.
  4. If you think you have a concussion or have a concussion you cannot spar for a minimum of 6 weeks or as your doctor has advised you.

We want to train our students as best as we can but their health and safety is paramount. This is why in our schools kids do not spar and this is why our adult sparring, though may appear chaotic, has rules and our students are expected to follow them.

I suggest that if your school allows children to spar they should reconsider and if you have full contact sparring that you should look at the safety precautions in place to keep your students and fighters healthy and training as long as their mind and body allow.

By Jonathan Fader

Edited by: Vanessa Mora