One of the few remaining Traditional and Educational Martial Arts Tournaments where Character and Behavior are as important as Physical Skill.

                to the Kang Do Won Martial Arts Institute &
                Website...Located in Wickliffe, Ohio since 1985 and
                Inducted into the International Karate & Kickboxing
                Hall of Fame in 1987. Grand Master Lewis has been
                teaching Traditional martial arts and a comprehensive
                system of self-defense since 1971.

                   The 'American Warrior' Philosophy & Competition Policy


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by Grand Master Richard J. Lewis
Founder of the American Warrior Traditional Martial Arts Tournament

The 'American Warrior' is a Traditional martial arts tournament... what does that mean?

     The word traditional as it applies to my school, the 'Kang Do Won' Martial Arts Institute and the 'American Warrior' Tournament means that the educational and competitive focus is on ART, which is comprised of two elements that are absolutely essential to every martial ART student and competitor. The first is healthy personality and character traits, the most important of which are honorable, respectful and respectable behavior. The second is the proper understanding of the realistic application and effectiveness of the concepts and techniques that students are taught during their study of a martial ART.
     Unfortunately, for many students, the respectable behaviors that were once synonymous with martial ART have deteriorated to superficiality, impatience, selfishness, ignorance and egotism, and martial ART has become martial entertainment. ART is a comprehensive term that applies not only to the external (physical), but much more importantly to the internal (mind & spirit) of the students who study it. If the techniques taught in a martial art are not fundamentally sound and realistically applicable in a real-life combat situation, a student who attempts to use them in combat is in great danger of injury or death. This is not only because the techniques won't be effective, but also because the expenditure of wasted energy and frivolous movements of the defender's body will expose openings that a capable combatant will surely exploit. Conversely, a student who has been taught sound fundamentals and proper application of technique would have little hope of applying effective techniques in a stressful and terrifying self-defense situation without 'inner-strength', the components of which are self-confidence, self-esteem, self-respect, honor, discipline, determination and courage.
     I have witnessed too many sad examples of the result of superficial training, a few of which are... When a black belt competitor lays on the floor and cries because he didn't win a trophy OR utters vulgarities because he disagrees with a call, something is seriously wrong with how that individual has been trained and educated. When a competitor enters a ring with an obvious lack of personal hygiene OR a uniform that is wrinkled, torn or dirty OR is wearing a belt that is in disarray and poorly tied OR addresses the judges with weakness and/or impoliteness, someone has neglected to educate that competitor about the power of personal presence and the impact it will have upon his/her potential for a successful future. When a competitor performing a weapon form proceeds to flip a sword in the air and then attempts to catch it by the handle OR twirls a wooden staff behind his/her back OR performs what is supposed to be a weapon form, but holds the weapons only as props while executing a series of kicks OR executes a back-flip or other gymnastic movement solely for entertainment value, the old, traditional masters who have passed on are turning over in their graves, along with some present day masters, including myself, who are equally distressed. I believe we live in a society that, sadly, has come to value style over substance and in the real world of self-defense, style without substance will get you hurt or killed.
     Being concerned about winning an award becomes a serious handicap to a competitor. Concentrating on what you have been educated and trained to do and just giving your best effort eliminates much of the 'end result' distraction and the stress associated with it. A warrior who is preoccupied with dying, seriously impairs his/her chances of survival, just as a competitor who is focused on winning, increases the probability of losing. Focusing on effort rather than results, and direction rather than destination makes everybody a winner, in competition and in life, with or without awards. This is the way of ART... this is the American Warrior way.
     The majority of tournaments today advocate martial entertainment. They have chosen to 'go with the flow' and to follow trends that I believe have superficialized and cheapened the martial arts. However, even though I believe that they have the right to do it their way, in my opinion it is not the way of ART, nor is it my way. 
     I am true to my beliefs and because of this, since 1989, the 'American Warrior' Tournament has promoted the traditional values of ART, and will continue to do so. In an effort to more clearly define the competition parameters, based on those traditional values, the judging panel process at the 'American Warrior' Tournament has become more comprehensively detailed. Each member of a judging panel is responsible for evaluating each competitor's performance, based on each of the following five (5) Performance Elements and Point Scale :
Element 1APPEARANCE... Cleanliness and Neatness (Body, Hair, Finger Nails, Toe Nails, Uniform & Belt)
Element 2 - SPIRIT................. Presence, Intensity and Loudness (Body Language, Facial Expressions & Shout)
Element 3 - TECHNIQUE....... Performance Quality and Difficulty Factor (Balance, Power, Focus & Control)
Element 4APPLICATION.... Realism and/or Effectiveness of the Techniques if Performed in Reality
Element 5ETIQUETTE........ Politeness, Attitude and Respect (Behavior in the Ring & the Tournament)

For more detailed information about the Performance Elements see the
 American Warrior Tournament Behavior & Performance Requirements

0 = Not Acceptable     1 = Poor     2 = Fair     3 = Good     4 = Very Good     5 = Excellent
     Each competitor's performance shall, in the mind of each judge, be broken down into the five elements listed above. A numerical score, based on the Judging Point Scale, shall be awarded for each of the five elements and totaled to establish the competitor's Performance Score. Each competitor has the potential to achieve a possible high Performance Score of 25. The judges shall be provided with clipboards, judging sheets and red pens. All entries must be in ink. Element Score alterations are not permitted. Performance Score addition errors may be corrected. The box to the right is actual size and one of forty (40) on the front and backside of each judging sheet. Judges print their names and the division number they are judging on each sheet. Immediately upon completion of each performance, scores are entered for each element and all five scores totaled. The Chief Judge shall then wait for each judge to announce that their Performance Scores have been calculated, at which point the Chief Judge will direct them to voice their scores to the scorekeeper. With 5 judges, the high and low Performance Scores are dropped and the remaining three are totaled together by the scorekeeper to establish the competitor's Competition Score. With 3 judges, all three Performance Scores are totaled. The highest Competition Score is awarded 1st Place and so on.                
     Judging for all competitors shall be based on reality. If a warrior drops his/her weapon during real combat, that warrior is dead. When a weaponless warrior defends against a weapon, it is highly probable that he/she will be hit, cut, stabbed and/or shot, but with the proper skills, that warrior will be able to minimize those injuries so that they are non-fatal. In an ideal combat situation, no warrior would choose to be injured, but real-life combat is anything but ideal, so non-fatal injuries, even though not desired, are expected and acceptable. Obviously in reality, and as an extension of reality as judging policy at the 'American Warrior' Tournament, sustaining a FATAL wound means you're dead... and that is Not Acceptable.
     In Weapon Form and Synchronized Weapon Form divisions, dropping a weapon shall result in a mandatory Performance Score of 0.  In Interactive Combat Weapon Form divisions, dropping a weapon due to competitor error, that is not part of the planned performance, shall result in a mandatory Performance Score of 0. In Self-Defense divisions, if in the opinion of a judge, a competitor sustains a FATAL wound at any point during his/her performance, the resulting mandatory Performance Score from that judge shall be a 0. Dropping a weapon and/or sustaining a fatal wound, and the resulting Performance Score of 0, takes precedence over all elemental scores.
     Creative/Extreme competitors are welcome at the 'American Warrior' Tournament, and based on the new judging process, have the potential to score well on all the judging elements except, maybe... application.

     Training in basics and fundamentals and their proper application, and education that nurtures the growth of inner-strength is what true martial ART was... and should continue to be.
     Martial ART lives on at the 'American Warrior' Tournament, where the guiding ideal is to exemplify ART through competition. So, if you would like to enjoy an afternoon of safe and fair competition in an ART environment that is governed by healthy human values and traditional martial ART principles... then I'll see you at the 'American Warrior', but be prepared to be a martial ARTist!
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