As a school, we do not require our students to compete at tournaments. However, we do encourage everyone to try. Many students and parents have the assumption that tournaments are for those that spar and are turned off immediately. But tournaments are composed of not only sparring, but poomsae, weapons and breaking.
Personally, I encourage my children to compete, not because I want them to win, but more for the experience. There are two main reasons why I do have them compete. First is the fear of the unknown. Second is that it is ok to fail or lose.
Part of life is walking into the unknown and overcoming the fears that the unknown brings. In a competition, whether you are competing in poomsae, weapons, breaking or sparring, any number of things can go wrong. And trust me, as a first time competitor your mind is running through all of those things! But I let our students know that just stepping on to the mat is half the battle. No matter what the outcome, they should be proud of that accomplishment.
As with any thing, the more practice you have, the better you will become. With every competition, you learn a little bit more about yourself and your limits. Recognizing that fear of the unknown and being able to handle it and get through it, is applicable in all aspects of life. Think of your first job interview or going to a new school. It's a scary thing to walk into something you've never done before. But just knowing that you have faced that feeling before and lived through it is kind of comforting.
No matter how good you are, there will be times that you will lose. But learning how to go forward is the most important lesson.