Everyone knows about the disparity between open and closed tournaments and whether or not the competitor is sporting a shiny new uniform or wearing a traditional one. So, I will not even discuss these obvious and flagrant "violations" of trust and fairness. Instead, I will make note of some personal observations, involving instructor behavior at these tournaments. Individuals who are supposed to be living and demonstrating the virtues of the martial arts and outwardly violate these same virtues when their pride is showing. Or, violate these virtues just to prove (it appears) that they have the power to do whatever they want, irregardless of what they expect everyone else to do. One must not forget that respect is a "two-way street" and must be earned, not demanded!
One tournament in particular that I visited was a total disappointment. In that, the Masters (judges) expected respect of others to them, but were very short in respect to the Arts, them-selves or others. I know, I know, this is only my opinion, but I took one of my students with me and what he witnessed, turned him totally against modern age tournament participation. He told me in no uncertain terms, that if that is the way it is, he will quit the arts before he participates in any tournament. I should also mention, that this is no young kid, but a "40 plus" year old man. I am sure that these Masters have many years in the Arts, but something seems to have gotten lost through all those years. They entered the tournament (competition) area in all forms of dress, with the majority not showing any respect for the area or the Arts. I did not actually see one entry or exit bow made. While judging both kumite and Kata, they wore a mixture or "uniforms". "Blue jeans, tee shirts and tennis shoes", "Gi bottoms, NO tops", "Gi tops, Blue jeans and tennis shoes" and you name it. Only one lower rank Black-belt (Shodan), had a complete, traditional uniform, and he wore sparring foot gear with that. The word "uniform" is included in "uniformity". We need to get back to it.
I said that I wasn't going to get into this, but as far as politics in tournaments go, you could write a book. There appears to be many cases where the "flashy" uniforms and major system participants fair much better in judgments. Fairness is another old virtue that seems to be lost in favor of money (this being by participation of the larger schools). Right, wrong or indifferent, I do not encourage participation. But, neither do I not allow students to attend.
You probably would like a little more history on why I made this decision, so here are a few examples. There was this fairly large open tournament, with several rings of kumite operating at the same time, of which I was a corner judge in one. Everything seem to be going just fine, when all of a sudden a "pot gut" black-belt, who was a center judge in an adjourning ring, shut his ring down and came over to our ring, screaming and yelling. He stepped into our operating kumite and jumped all over one of the participants (which was one of his students) for not performing up to his standards. Now, believe it or not but the center judge in our ring, said absolutely nothing, but allowed this to take place. I was so disgusted, that after this match continued and completed, I left! The rules of the tournament specifically stated, that the center judge had total control over their ring and that if a problem arose that they were not able to handle, they were to contact the tournament coordinator. This center judge did absolutely nothing!
In another tournament, there was an individual, who is a master now, who was constantly yelling at his students if they didn't win at whatever. The "instructor" has acquired the mocking title of "injured ankle __________"(not mentioning their name). When he competed in kumite, if he was not winning or at least breaking even, he would all at once fall down and grab his ankle. He would make such a scene that you would think (if you hadn't seen it before) it was broken. After a short time, he would get up, limp around and finally say that he was ready to continue. The individual competing against him, not knowing this tactic, would feel real bad about being very aggressive at all against him and come out of the bow a little hesitant. And, all of a sudden this "crippled" black-belt would jump up about 2 or 3 feet in the air, making his point and win the match. You can call this strategy, but I call it "chicken" and cowardice.
And of course, you have all witnessed this scenario. You're setting off in the bleachers, just watching for a change, and here comes a 16 year old black-belt of 6th degree. The belt is so worn out, that it looks like it came over on the Mayflower. I followed this one particular young man around for a while, listening to his conversation with other participants. If you were to believe his story, you would think that this young man had whipped every black-belt in the nation. Waiting around to watch him compete (I expected him to) in the black-belt division, he never showed up. He was probably out in the parking lot, beating up on some 10 year old. Now, that probably seems a little sarcastic, but what system (not mentioning his patch significance) would allow this to occur in the first place.
I will say that in the years since the above, there appears to be a desire in the minds of some tournament promoters to get back to more traditional standards. I will have to admit though, that it is extremely hard to "run" these tournaments and still maintain participation enough to "pay the bills". The change in standards back to where they should be, has to be done gradually without most realizing what is going on. Otherwise, someone is going to feel like that they are being "picked on" or insulted. What a shame, when a master has to guided back to what a master should be in the first place. Some rules have to be instituted to protect oneself from being sued in this, "I, me, myself, no-one-else-counts", society. It's a shame when the martial arts have to soften themselves in "defense" of a possible law-suit, in an entity where contact and injury is expected, until it happens to "me".
Even with the modern day world restrictions, it is my goal before it is too late for me, to help in rebuilding the Martial Arts as it was 20 years ago. It may only be in our local area, but maybe with the help of some dedicated students, expanding it outward. As you can see, this is a very important part of my life and I firmily believe in its purpose. Not as it appears in appearance and conversation, but as it truly is. As I stated above, you would think that I want the violence of the art, but it is not that at all, but in the development of a positive attitude that develops from the commitment of contact, which can not occur from punching and kicking at the "air" of which no competitor exists.. Everyone can be brave when no competitor exists in facing you, nose to nose. It is said that life acquires more of a purpose when you can face death with a calmness of mind and acceptance. This can not be developed by fighting "air" and being counted for it. Someone once said that: "The Martial Arts with out philosopy are harmful, if not dangerous". Well, I have a philosophy that states: "The Martial Arts should be for building spirit and courage that will allow you to factually survive and not a false sense of security that will cause you harm in the real world".