Different Levels of Preparation in Olympic- and non-Olympic Martial Arts

Olympic and Non-Olympic Martial Arts

Martial Arts Practitioner

The Olympics has always been about man vs man or woman vs woman and from very early on, martial arts in the Olympics as a physical combat has been a popular sporting event.

A martial arts practitioner will find that there are many levels of competition for him to hone and develop his skills. If his goal is to participate in the Olympics, he undergoes an intensive training regimen that includes strength and conditioning exercises, flexibility training, weightlifting, and free sparring with opponents at the local and national levels.

The purpose of going through this preliminary stage is to enable him to land a qualifying bid for the Olympic games. He has to place first in national martial arts tournaments sponsored by the respective Olympic committees in order for him to secure a spot as an Olympic competitor with the goal of winning a medal not just for himself, but for the country he represents.

Sharpen His Martial

On the other hand, if the practitioner intends to develop and sharpen his martial arts skills for his own benefit, he can participate in various tournaments and exhibition matches. Depending on the proficiency of the skills he possesses, he may enter mixed martial arts tournaments.

Additionally, he may serve as a martial arts instructor to help train future students. Although he is not aiming to win a medal for his country just like the Olympic-bound practitioner, he also aims to garner a respectable spot, whether as a reputable instructor or by progressing in the tournament rankings.

Although both practitioners have a common mindset of displaying their overall proficiency, they have different ways and means of preparing for them. Olympic-bound practitioners will take note of schedules in various local, regional, and national tournaments for them to participate in, and will pressure themselves to prepare for the long road ahead.

Which Martial Arts Are in The Olympics?

When the Olympic games started in 776 BC, events featured various hand-to-hand fighting and athletic contests. Unlike today, these matches were brutal and violent since there were just a few rules in place.

The 2020 Olympic Games will host three martial arts events: judo, karate, and taekwondo.

In Olympic-sponsored martial arts, such as karate, judo, and taekwondo, most practitioners aim to be at the top, but only the overall winner takes it all. For them, it is the pride of serving the country as well as its people, which will matter the most. They wish to prove that they are the best in the world, which is why they train twice as hard compared to non-Olympic bound practitioners.


As for the latter, their goals are varied, with some of them focused on personal glory and achievement, while the rest take their training as a form of self-defence. Non-Olympic practitioners have the privilege of competing in underground martial arts tournaments, and this is where Olympic practitioners will have a major handicap. For Olympic practitioners, they will find it difficult to adjust to the rules of underground tournaments, such as going full-contact, due to the fact that Olympic martial arts are always supervised by sportsmanship rules.

The participation of an Olympic practitioner in an underground tournament gives him an undue advantage over an opponent who has been exposed solely to Olympic-sanctioned tournaments as well as friendly exhibition matches.

Most Olympic practitioners prefer to avoid competing in underground tournaments to keep the spirit of sportsmanship alive, as well as to avert a possible sanction from their respective Olympic federations, although the latter situation is extremely rare.


Similarly, a non-Olympic-bound practitioner who intends to participate in any Olympic-related event will have to blunt his hardened survival instincts and subject himself to the rules (and restraints) of sportsmanship.

Both practitioners are not limited to training in just one martial art, as they have the choice of training in as many martial arts as far as practicable. However, in the Olympic setting, they must stick to the martial art designated. They may use techniques they learned from various martial arts, but only at arm’s length and in no case will they be allowed to break the rules by deliberately applying other techniques, especially from non-Olympic martial arts.

This rule must be strictly followed by practitioners who participate in the Olympics or any Olympic-related event.

The concept of winning “fair and square” definitely applies to both practitioners, and it is through these different levels of preparation that makes the difference.

A practitioner who trains every day will always have an edge over someone who rarely trains, and between the practitioners who train frequently, there are two roadmaps to success – earning glory through participating or winning in the Olympics, or seeking personal achievement through participation in martial arts tournaments, both open as well as underground.

International Olympic Committee

It is also up to the International Olympic Committee as well as the respective Olympic martial arts federations to debate, discuss, and decide on whether to adopt mixed martial arts in future Olympic Games, but currently, maintaining the status quo prevails in the interest of maintaining sportsmanship and unity through the Olympics.