I have never been a tournament school for the kids I taught.
But I did see value in some exposure to what others were doing.
When in Scraton after observing how young competitors were lost at being able to be seen admist the larger adults I sponsored 3 youth only tournaments, and had solid attendance from competitors across the state. As I really did not take the youth I was training to tournaments I would spend 3 months to prepare them for competition. To know how they should act, to hone their skills and to allow them to be prepared. They all had fun, everyone who attended. Some won. Some lost. There were even divisions where my students didn’t compete because those areas were not taught in my program.
After the first tournament a group of parents approached me why their kids were not entered in the weapons kata division. I explained to them for a 2 night a week program, there were things I did not feel appropriate for young people to study. I never believed in child weight weapons and maintained that young people simply were not old enough, strong enough for kobudo study. Of course they were always free to join another program that offered such training. Perhaps that I was teaching for free and offering a tournament for $5.00 a competitor made them consider I might know what I was talking about.
When I moved to New Hampshire I was less interested in tournaments for my students, still we attended several one a year. Then one year a student, a yellow belt, won his kata division at such a tournament. Then beause he won he wanted to be promoted to blue belt. I had always explained that tournaments were not part of the class program. And truthfully he was not ready for promotion as he still had more to learn to qualify as a blue belt. My standards did not change in any case, they remained consistent.
Long story short, he discontinued training.
Now students come and go at their own desire. When it is time for them to move on that is what they do, and never has anyone discussed with me why they made that choice. I never expected otherwise. But I am sure his not gaining a promotion after that win had something to do with his decision.
Several years later I came to the decision to discontinue tournament attendance for my students. I moved the program into other possibilities. There are infinite ways to study karate after-all. And I certainly had more than enough to keep them busy. If fact no longer going to tournaments made no difference in my student population.
I never forbade them or their parents choosing to go to tournaments. That of course was their business. It just never came up in class.
So many students start, most aboue 2 or 3 years into their training, then other things in their lives become more important to them. Of course that is what is right for them. We always want to encourage youth to learn how to make choices. Most of them choose not to spend the 7 to 9 years to shodan. And of course those that do so, still will leave as adults they don’t choose often to spend their futures in their home towns.
One time I had 3 brothers that all received brown belts (which happened a few times). One pushed forward eventually reaching black belt. The others choose to move on to other things (and that has happened more than a few times too. Then the brother who reached shodan left to go to college and later into the Navy.
But years later one of the brothers who left as a brown belt came to visit me. He was the only one of all my students who chose to move on, who ever did that.
And he took the time to thank me for spending my time for him.
That was the only thanks I have ever gotten. That was more than enough.