The Illinois State Martial Arts Tournament Circuit Review

The Illinois State Martial Arts Tournament Circuit Review

June 2 marked another tournament in the new-ish Illinois State Martial Arts Tournament Circuit. It was a drizzly, dreary day in the Chicago area and attendance was down compared to the last two circuit tourneys. Even the promise of 6′ trophies could not get waterlogged surbanites out of their flooded basements for the afternoon. Still, organizers seem optimistic and competitors that usually attend either Rocky’s or Turner’s club tournament are starting to attend both tournaments. On the whole, the tournaments are growing, while parents and coaches are learning what to expect.

Organizers are posting lists with circuit results on (look for the ISMATC link in the menu on the left). Competitors get one point for competing, 2 for third place, 3 for second and 4 points for getting first.

Printed copies of the circuit points have been brought to each tournament so far this year. The transparency is welcome, particularly since the circuit is still experiencing some bumps and bruises as they go. So far, the biggest issue has been illegible or incomplete names on the tournament forms. There are tournaments where a few competitors are currently only identified by their first or last name.

(Note for coaches:  keeping track of circuit points is a good job to assign to your team mom.)


Now that we’re well into the second season of the circuit, I have a few suggestions to make things run more smoothly.

  1. It’s time to get printed copies of the rules onto Web sites and Facebook. I understand that these tournaments each have their own set of rules that has developed over the years. It’s also understandable that organizers wish to maintain the integrity and identity of the individual tourneys. However, because there are differences in the sparring rules  (e.g. legitimacy of groin strikes and the “three second rule”), it is important that each promoter create a set of written rules and post them where parents and coaches can find them.
  2. Perhaps it’s time to invest in outdoor signage. On our way to the Turner’s Club Sports Facility, we ran into several confused competitors outside the Tuner’s Club. Luckily, someone wandering around in a gi while carrying a bo or sword is easy to recognize as a martial arts competitor. So, we leaned out our car window and pointed to the sports complex in the adjoining parking lot. I think everyone gets lost the first time they visit this particular facility (which is actually pretty roomy with plenty of parking). A few movable plastic signs with the words “Karate Tournament” and arrows can go a long way and could (presumably) be used at other locations. And think how helpful that would be when you’re bringing a new tournament into the circuit, to be able to tell promoters “we’ll bring a few signs to help people find your location.”
  3. And, perhaps now, it is time for ISMATC to have it’s own Facebook page. (If it has one and I haven’t found it yet, I apologize.) Because it’s still new-ish, I understand the reluctance to create a Web site for just the circuit. Someone has to update that shit and, let’s face it, our dojo blogs/web sites don’t get updated as often as they should. But, creating a single, centralized location for all circuit-related info will actually lighten the load for everyone involved. (Remember, you can  have more than one page administrator.)

As a whole, the circuit tournaments have been a positive experience for my students. They are getting exposed to a larger variety of schools and martial arts styles. They’re starting to make friends with students from other schools, which is a good thing and part of the overall tournament experience.  I think the majority of my students aren’t yet interested in the circuit points but most of them are young and more into short-term goals/rewards. However, we’re using the circuit as a tool to get them to more tournaments and that has made it a valuable tool to me as a coach.

I’ve also seen many more women showing up at the tournaments. The black belt division, in particular, is gaining more adult women. (Yeah!) I’d like to see more adult kyu levels (male and female)  at the local tournaments but,I think that encouraging this group to compete needs to take place at the dojo level.

The next circuit tournament will be held Aug. 4 at the Turners Club Sports Facility. This tournament will have double circuit points and part of the proceeds will be donated to Sensei Don Fruland family. We’ll post more info on the tournament and on Sensei Fruland closer to the event.