After giving a poor performance at my last competition, I spent the rest of that evening and next day going over the disappointment and dare I say it, embarrassment. It is very easy to go over and over what happened, however, getting stuck there is a complete waste of time.

There are lots of reasons (excuses, ahem…) I can give for my performance, but let’s be honest we only find them in the face of defeat – these things happen!   Instead, I am letting it serve as a reminder of what changes can be made, how a different mindset can be adopted to ensure one bad day doesn’t lead to more.

Michael Jordan had this philosophy nailed. He famously said, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Tips for handling poor performance:

  1. Give yourself a set amount of reflection time, not too long! Realise that the only person thinking about this is you.
  2. Consider if there is anything you can do differently next time?  Did you train enough or get enough rest?  Did you listen to your coach? Or was your opponent simply better than you on the day?
  3. Don’t take yourself too seriously! 😉
  4. Accept your greatest performance may not result in a win, and a poor performance may indeed result in a win.

Competition should be for enjoyment, but crucially it offers a place to really test reactions, adrenalin management and self-defence, which is at the very foundation of why we practise Contact Karate.   Therefore, I strongly encourage all students to compete at least once, not just so they can pick up a medal (of course that is a great feeling!) but so they can have confidence that they can react in a threatening situation, if they ever had to.  The lessons learnt at competitions are invaluable for life outside of the dojo.

Win or lose, congratulate your opponent and their Sensei and let it go.  Wins and losses are forgotten, however, your belt remains.


Sensei Jo