I’ve been going to kids karate tournaments since I was 7 years old. And after going to my first out-of-school tournament with my kids yesterday in deep Long Island, I can very much say nothing has changed, and that is a very unfortunate thing.
Kids karate tournaments have been pretty unorganized since I started competing in 2000. Back then, though, they had a bit more of an excuse. One vital piece of information you need to know most about karate tournament circuits is that the majority of them have an incredibly small budget, and usually are run by karate moms and dads. It is a passion-fueled event, but an unorganized one nonetheless.
Back in the early 2000s, the internet was also not nearly as accessible as it is now. Most tournaments require a pre-registration, in order to try to be as organized as possible. In the old days. you would need to call or mail in your registration to each tournament ahead of time. Since most people didn’t want to do that, there was also a same-day registration, which created chaos in incredibly large divisions, and in turn created chaotic delays throughout the tournament. This lack of organization, in my opinion, has been an enormous factor in the downfall of sport karate.
Who wants to do a sport that is incredibly hard to compete in? It diminishes the sport aspect of karate/martial arts incredibly, which is what attracted a lot of the younger generation throughout the 80s and 90s.
The problem is most circuits have done little to nothing to change this glaring problem in the past two decades.
Registration for this tournament in particular was online, but it was not easily accessible or streamlined by any means. The majority of people still signed up at the door (the registration line was out the door, while the pre-reg line was literally empty). More competitors, more time needed. The “best tournament in NYC” had delayed divisions by close to two hours yesterday. Competitors sit around from 8:30 AM to 6 PM sometimes waiting to compete. No wonder nobody wants to spend their Sunday at karate tournaments!
Doing these sorts of things are hard, especially with no money. Like I said before, most tournaments are riding on a minuscule budget, so being able to set up a functioning sign up website may be out of their league.
The tournament yesterday, though, did take a step in the right direction. I saw a few sponsorship signs around the gym, and if tournaments could utilize advertisement revenue a bit more, they may be able to make a few more things happen and make it a bit more organized in turn.
Another step in the right direction is karate.com - a new sport karate event that is streamed live, and obviously has a budget behind it. But just the use of a real website, and live streams, puts this new sport karate even far and away above the rest.
All in all, sport karate needs to get out of the 90s and realize computers are a thing. Use them. Can we all agree on that?
Or else we all end up like this.