Athletes, especially those who compete at a semi-professional or professional level are, by nature superstitious creatures. There are many who have rituals regarding clothes, protections, gestures, and actions that they think can be decisive to improve a record or winning combat.
Superstition and Sports
Superstition and sports are closely linked. Sometimes in the form of strange rites, but other times they may even go unnoticed. Garments and amulets are a common thing in karate, it goes from a favorite t-shirt, or lucky underwear under the karategi. Lucky undergarments are absolutely a thing in the sport. Some karatekas use these garments under their official uniforms and keep them for years and years. In addition, there is a saying that states that washing this special powerful item can ruin the charm, just imagine that favorite mystical, never washed underwear…
Some athletes follow this rule, but with less private charms, they take care of it and keep it clean to make it look new. Too much trouble for a superstition, don’t you think? Some other elements included are the balance bracelets (which had their boom before being recognized as a scam) or the Kinesio tape strips placed on themselves, with a more decorative or placebo effect than an effective therapeutic option.
Colors and Sportsmen
There are athletes who avoid a certain color because it gives them bad luck, or there are the ones that use the one they think gives them good luck. They believe colors can influence the result of a sports test or a whole season! In Karate this is tricky because the colors in the uniforms have a meaning, so a belt can’t be used arbitrarily, but is common in other disciplines of martial arts that are more open about the garments.
Bandages and protections can be also a form of an amulet, due to the fact that an injury can truncate the career of an athlete. When an athlete has already recovered, there are those who still use bandages or protectors, something that works as a kind of prevention. However, there are some who still use the bandages on the socks, because it hurts on their skin, or put it with so little pressure (so it doesn’t bother either) that makes it little sense to have it as prevention at all, but still it’s common practice.
Placebo treatments have been seen as well. Athletes suffering pain on their feet, feel painless as soon as a spray treatment has been applied to the injured area (even above the clothes). In this case, not everything is superstition, yet the component of altering the rhythm of the match makes its entrance.
Rituals in sports work for any discipline, in karate, things like the Rei that is held before any combat or as a salutation in the moment of touch the tatami before a class, are a way to internalize the values of the sport but it also has a mystical component for many practitioners. The athletes will always be the ones that claim they didn’t perform at their max because they can’t fulfill the ritual perfectly; in such a case it would be better to train than performing the ritual to become a good athlete, right? Last but not least, many athletes perform prayers before, during, or after a competition to ask for good fortune.