One of the landmark moments of any Brazilian Jiu Jitsu student’s life comes when he/she decides to get involved in a tournament or other form of official competition. All of us who practice BJJ are warriors, but when the time comes to put your skills to the test in an official capacity, the game changes quite a bit.
So may questions typically flood the mind of the first-time competitor: How will I do? What if my opponent is bigger/stronger/faster/better than me? What if I get hurt? Will I let my instructor down or make him proud?
You could run these questions through your mind and drive yourself crazy, or you could take some time to prepare your mind and body for competition and truly learn to enjoy the pre-competition jitters. If you’re wondering how that’s possible, then read on.
We’ve sourced from the Jiu Jitsu Brotherhood some useful tips to help all first time competitors out there. We titled this post “Tips For First BJJ Competition“.
Tips For First BJJ Competition
You will never be 100% ready – If you wait until you are 100% ready before competing, then you will never compete. You can always be fitter, more technical or more composed. Feeling follows action – not the other way around. It is never as hard as it is the first time. You will be nervous, you will be scared and you will doubt yourself before your first competition. But I can promise you that you will grow more than you ever have during regular classes and lessons.
Allow for adequate rest beforehand – The last week to ten days of before a competition should see you tapering down the scale and frequency of your training. Physically, your muscles, tendons, joints and ligaments will appreciate the break and will be fresh for the contest. Your central nervous system will also benefit – too much competitive training in the final days before an event and you will find that your reactions will be slower than usual and your game will be stagnant. In athletics there is a saying – “Do not leave your best performance on the practice track” and the same can be said for grappling.
Don’t make excuses beforehand – He who makes an excuse before a fight is going to need it. Don’t be one of those guys who tells all his friends and teammates that he hasn’t trained properly, is underweight or recovering from an injury. You are just trying to cover your bases should you lose. This is an unsporting and undignified practice. If you don’t feel up to the standard of the event you are participating in but choose to compete anyway, then you must face the consequences.
Get to know the venue beforehand – Although this is not always possible, if you can try to inspect the venue the day before the competition. This will greatly diminish your nervousness on the day because it will be a place you have become familiar with as opposed to something foreign and intimidating.
Conserve your energy – On the day of the event you should be aiming to expend as little energy as possible. Try to remain off your feet. Most of the time you should be spent sitting, or even better, lying down. Try to avoid viewing the matches prior to yours, unless you are watching your potential opponents and formulating your strategy. Watching your teammates compete and screaming advice to them is almost as draining as competing itself.
Regulate your breathing – Whether you notice it or not, the moment you enter the venue (and perhaps even before) your body begins its release of adrenalin. Although adrenalin has many benefits for the fighter one of the disadvantages is that it causes your breathing to become shallow. This robs your organs and tissues of much needed oxygen and hence leads to fatigue. By concentrating and ensuring your breathing is deep and rhythmic you not only negate this effect but also help still your mind and alleviate much of the pre-match anxiety.
Let go of the outcome – Do not be focused solely on winning, nor afraid to lose. These are both outcomes. All fighters, even the greats, lose at some point. There is just too much of a random element in grappling / BJJ competition to allow anyone to achieve a 100% win rate. Try instead, to focus on the process. If you learn something from your competition experience, then win or lose, you have have gained. Some of my most important and enjoyable matches have been ones in which I have lost the fight, but gained valuable insight.
Be gracious in victory and defeat – Never, I repeat, never make excuses for a loss. I have been guilty of this in the past and I will never allow it to happen again. When asked about the match always say “he beat me fair and square” regardless of whether or not you performed your best or you feel that the referee robbed you etc. By the same token, should you be fortunate enough to win, make sure you acknowledge your opponents’ skill and heart.
Source: Jiu Jitsu Brotherhood
I know that’s a lot to take in, but these are solid tips that all competitors need to keep in mind; especially people who are new to official BJJ competitions. It’s one thing to be physically prepared by knowing all your techniques, but quite another to implement these important mental preparation steps.
Of all these tips, we’d say to really pay attention to letting go of the outcome. You worked hard on the mat, you’ve trained hard and are prepared. Don’t get caught up in wanting to win so much, or fearing loss so much that your performance begins to suffer. Focus on the process of being a strong BJJ competitor and enjoying the thrill of competition instead.
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