What to Expect at a Taekwondo Tournament | Explained

Participating in your first tournament can be nerve-racking for most students.

In this page, we will help you calm the nerves by explaining what to expect at a Taekwondo tournament, and how it works.

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What to Expect at a Taekwondo Tournament

In your first Taekwondo tournament, you can expect for the tournament location to be packed, the inside of the building to be separated with a mat area and a visitor's seating area, as well as people constantly walking in and out of the building.

Many students, parents, and instructors will be walking around the area, and a lot of them will be cycling in and out of the building as they begin to compete, or finish their competition. 

Arriving at the Tournament Location

Tournament locations can vary depending on how important a tournament is (Intra-school tournament vs National Championship or World Championship).

Intra-school tournaments are typically done at a larger Martial Arts school, or even at a hotel.

The Fall National Championship in the American Taekwondo Association have been held at Disney's Wide World of Sports for many years, but will be held in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2024.

Check In to Your Competition

You'll need to check in to let the tournament staff know that you've arrived.

In smaller tournaments, you can typically check in early, whereas the larger tournaments you aren't able to check in until the time of your competition.

Visitor Areas vs Competition Areas

One thing that you'll want to be aware of is that the larger tournaments often only allow those with a Martial Arts uniform into the competition space.

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This means that if your family & friends don't have a uniform, they most likely will not be let in the actual competition area.

This does not mean that they won't be able to see, as there is a visitors area that typically involves seats and/or bleachers.

They will simply have to watch and take pictures from a distance, until your competition is over.

Know What to Bring to the Tournament

You'll want to double check that you have all of the necessary items that you need in order to compete.

Specifically, if you're sparring, ensure that you have all of your sparring gear ready. 

If you're missing part of your sparring gear (including your mouthpiece), you may not be cleared to compete.

Don't make the mistake that I did, and take a quick glance at your mouthpiece case and assume that your mouthpiece is in there.

Easiest Way to Check That You Have All of Your Gear

The most effective way figure out if you're missing any items is by emptying your bag on the floor, and then putting each part individually back in the bag.

If you forget an item needed to compete, there's a chance that you may not be allowed to compete, or you'll have to scramble to ask someone to let you borrow what you need, and if there's nobody available, you may even end up having to purchase it.

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Double Check Your List of What to Bring

  • Uniform
  • Belt
  • Bags
  • Sparring Gear
  • Mouth Guard
  • Water Bottle
  • Shoes
  • Extra Clothes For When You're Done (Comfortable)

Finding Your Competition Ring

You'll want to arrive to your competition location early, in order to get acclimated and to locate the ring where you'll be competing.

This will allow you to have one less thing to worry about, as well as be able to know exactly where you should be as your competition time nears.

Preparing For Your Competition

If you've made it to this point of the competition, you should be proud of yourself as you've worked so hard, and are doing what most aren't willing to do...

Now it's time to show off all of your skills that you've acquired through countless hours of hard work.

Whatever your routine you've developed at your Martial Arts school prior to practicing, that's the same routine that you'll want to do.

You'll want to keep things simple, and do exactly what your mind and body are familiar with (and used to).

This will allow you to quickly get in a focused mindset, and provide familiarity in an unfamiliar environment.

Additionally, you've done this same routine hundreds of times before (just not in competition), which means you'll know when you're sufficiently warmed up.

Many students will make the mistake of creating a new routine for the tournament, only to accidentally tire out the legs as they try to shake off the nerves, and their performance ends up suffering.

My Competition Routine

About 30 minutes prior to my competition time, I typically put headphones in, begin to use static stretches starting with my legs, then move to my back, and lastly move to upper body.

After that, I'll move to dynamic stretches, and once I feel that the body is beginning to warm up, I'll just walk through my form and certain techniques at about 50%.

As the body continues to warm up, I'll continue this routine and reach about 80% in terms of effort, and develop a little bit of a sweat.

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