Preparing for a Major Tournament

As the upcoming World Cup is drawing closer, we take a look at the story of David and Goliath, which if studied, can unlock principles that can help us to take on our own ‘Goliath’ and win.

David was the youngest of eight sons. He took care of his father’s sheep and, at times, would bravely fight off wild animals that tried to eat his flock. David was fit and strong and as he cared deeply for his sheep, he developed his martial arts prowess through necessity, by way of the sling-shot and practised regularly for the safety of his sheep. Once he killed a lion, and another time, a bear that was carrying away a lamb.

David’s three oldest brothers were soldiers in the army of King Saul. His country of Israel was in a desperate battle against the army of the Philistines. Both armies were camped for many months despite no fighting taking place. This was because both armies were weary and had no real desire for battle. One day David was asked to take food to his brothers on the battlefront. When he arrived, a Philistine giant named Goliath, marched up the hill and yelled to the soldiers of Israel “Choose a man from among you to come fight me. If he can kill me, the Philistines will be your servants. If I kill him, all of you will become servants of the Philistines”. This thundering giant who stood over 9 feet tall struck fear into the hearts of King Saul’s soldiers and the entire army fled, including David.

This went on for days where Goliath challenged the army and no-one accepted. So King Saul offered an incentive, that he who killed Goliath would become a Prince and marry Saul’s daughter. Still, no soldier took up the challenge, focusing not on the reward, but on the certain death that awaited anyone who took on Goliath.

Yet David found much incentive in the title of Prince, marrying a princess and saving his country from war. He had taken up the sling-shot for the self-defence of his sheep, but now it could do far more. So David walked out to face Goliath, carrying with him only his sling and five smooth stones. Breathing a quick prayer, David placed a stone in his sling, drew back his well-trained hand and slung the stone quickly straight into the forehead of the giant. The giant fell face down onto the ground and David ran quickly to his form, grasped the sword from Goliath’s sheath and finished the task. The Philistine army fled in panic for they knew the promise Goliath had made and the people of Israel shouted, danced and sang for joy because of David’s victory.

SO WHAT PRINCIPLES CAN WE TAKE FROM THIS STORY?

Anyone Can Win

David had only ever taken up his martial art for the self-defence of his sheep. He was no war trained-solider, but still had the tools required. Likewise, while you may not have tournament experience or train specifically for tournaments, this by no means says you cannot prevail. You receive all the necessary tools to win, just by training in your dojo.

Perfect Your Arsenal

David had no elaborate array of arsenal. He had his sling-shot. Yet in a second he had killed a giant and won a war. Winning a kumite title is not dissimilar as it does not require all the techniques, just a carefully selected few, or even one (as in David’s case). Bruce Lee always said the two most important ingredients for sparring are ‘timing’ and ‘distance’. A carefully timed, well-placed and clean technique can win any confrontation. Don’t go to work on sixty different techniques. Instead, focus your energies into developing a few attacks and counters and then perfect them through massive repetition and analysis. Aim to minimise telegraphing by every millimetre and develop explosive speed and you are on your way.

Road Test It

David knew he could kill Goliath because he had killed a lion and a bear. Nothing will prepare you better than hours spent road testing your techniques in a tournament scenario. Whether during, before or after class, or even at home with fellow students, make time to tournament spar every week. Create a ring so you are comfortable sparring in a confined space and be strict on all the scoring criteria: form; Kime; stance; control etc.

Develop Your Body

Much is written for kumite on developing self-belief, and for good reason (visualisation, affirmation etc). Developing your body is not only for physical sake, but yet another way to strengthen this. By taking up a physical exercise routine (running, strength training etc) the physical improvements may only be minimal, but the mental benefits are often enormous with new-found confidence. Before taking up the sling-shot, David had to wrestle wild animals. He had a fit, strong body which gave him confidence to do so.

Purely from a physical viewpoint, when the body is tired, the mind soon follows. When the body is weak, the mind will be weak. For every second you are thinking about your tired legs then that is a second you are not thinking about your tactics or your opponent. If a tournament bout runs for two minutes, practise your tournament sparring in four-minute intervals. Become so used to going well beyond time, that come the day, focusing for the entire two minutes is easy.

It Starts With An Incentive

The first time Goliath challenged the Israeli army, all fled, including David. It was not until David had the incentive of the title of Prince that he decided to take on Goliath. An ardently desired goal will move you to train harder, train more often and face your fears. While David focused on the title of Prince, focus on the title of World Champion.

Focus also on what it will make of you, just by doing the training – do this and you will be disciplined. Focus on the sacrifice required or the thought of losing and you will lack the discipline. It is said in life, we live either with discipline, or we live with regret.