Studies have shown that we excel not from practice alone, but from inspired, motivated practice. When we’re practicing at home or in study sessions, it’s easy to simply go through the motions, practicing the familiar routine with our awareness turned off. While repetition is important for development, an equally essential part of advancing our skills is being motivated enough to look at ourselves honestly and find elements which we can and want to improve (perhaps our rhythm isn’t precise, or our form could be tighter). In other words, we need to challenge ourselves. In order to make real breakthroughs in our discipline, it’s immensely important for our practice to be a force welling from within, so we feel the drive to challenge ourselves!

This is what makes taikai so special. As a participant, by simply knowing that you will be demonstrating your skills to an experienced panel, you automatically feel an instant urge to hone your skills to perform as best as you can. That feeling happens from the very moment you sign up! That inspired feeling continues during the months leading up to the event, as players feel the motivation to work on their technique and present as best as they can. 

For many, this is one of the most significant aspects of taikai, much more than the results of who wins or loses. Preparing oneself for such an evaluation requires building awareness of one’s own abilities, and an honest commitment to examine the finer points in order to refine techniques. Many participants become noticeably better players in the duration from signing up to the end of the taikai. Whether they got first place or last place, everyone reaps the benefits of the inspired motivation to improve their skills. Those improvements and level-ups stay with them long after the taikai is over.