Posted On:8/20/2007 1:14am
Why It's a Good Idea to Compete and
18 Tips to Help You Get the Best Experience Out of Competition
Author: Jason Scully
I try to compete in grappling tournaments as much as I possibly can. Why is that you might ask? Well itís for many different reasons:
The love of competition - The first reason is that I love to test myself and compete. I love the challenge that competitions present and after a good match win or lose I am glad I stepped on the mat against someone I didnít even know. Competitions are fun for me and that is what really motivates me.
Itís a true test Ė Competition is a true test of how all of your grappling skills come together. Under the stress of competition the true nature of your skills come out. There isnít any lying to yourself or anyone else about your abilities. It is just you, your opponent, and your mind and itís up to you during that time and in the environment to decide what youíre going to do with it.
How are you going to handle the crowd? How are you going to handle the butterflies in your stomach? How are you going to face the person across from you that you donít even know anything about?Are you going to remember your techniques? Are you going to freeze up, or are you going to stay calm and do everything you do in the gym and win?
Those are just a few of the tests that you have to face in competition and it is great to see how you would do. Competition helps to let you know where you stand in the larger scheme of things by giving you a realistic look at where you stand against other guys with the same experience level as yourself.
The experience and learning - While competition is a test of your skill against an opponent you arenít used to and in an environment you arenít used to there is no such thing as passing or failing in competition. The one thing that does always happen after competition is growth
I have never participated in a competition and not learned something or gained a greater experience of grappling, whether I was to win or lose. Every time I step off of the competition mat I step off a better grappler, a better person, and someone who wants to work harder.
Now you may not feel exactly the way I feel, but I guarantee you will feel something. You may be angry because you lost, you may feel satisfied because you did better than you thought, or you may be pumped up because you won. Either way you are walking off with a feeling, and with those feelings you will analyze. Youíll analyze what you did right, and what you did wrong. Youíll analyze what you could have done, and what you should have done. Youíll analyze the way you felt, your conditioning, how the crowd made you feel, and so on.
With all of that analyzing you will grow. Sometimes it just isnít the same as practice. With practice you do learn but you donít really analyze that much because it is something that you do on a regular basis. You warm-up, you do some drills, learn some techniques, and you roll. You may think about it after, but with not much analyzing. After a competition though you wonít be able to help but to analyze what you did. This will make you so much better then you can imagine.You will be pumped up for the next training session and to drill the things that you feel you need to work on as a result of your match and you will grow. You will have gained an experience that you just canít mimic in practice.
You may want to compete even more, or you may not want to compete any more, but you will not be able to walk away from that competition without learning something.
Here are some things that Iíve learned from competition whether I won or I lost:
I have learned that itís ok to be nervous and Iím not the only one.I have learned how to test myself in uncomfortable situations.I have gained confidence.I have learned many things that I need to work on and trust me I have worked on those areas.I learned what itís like to step out of my comfort zone and to know its ok.I learned that I am better than others.I learned that others are better than me.I learned that itís ok to lose.I learned that if feels great to win.I learned that I will learn more every time I compete.
Thatís not even a complete list, but Iím sure you get the point. If you are worried about competing and if youíre not sure if itís for you, youíll never know unless you try. The people who become champions and who succeed in life didnít do so because they thought about trying itís because they did try.
The people I meet Ė As with your classes and training, competitions are a great place to meet people who love doing what you do. I have been fortunate to meet many great people from going to competitions. I have made friends, been invited to other training facilities, and got to know many great people from going to competitions. Not many people think of competitions in this manner, but you never know as far as the people you meet and how they might affect your life. I try to not live mine as a hermit and I take advantage of the different people I can meet, because they just might help me become a better person and help me lead a life that I might not have been able to lead if I didnít meet them.
Here are some tips to help you make your first competition go smoother:
Try to think of it as an extension of your training. Think about it as if youíre going to class to train during an open mat but you get to roll even harder. This helps me to relax and realize that it isnít the end of the world. It really is only a grappling competition. In the whole scheme of life the only person who really is worried about if you win or lose is you and not anyone else.
Try your hardest to win, but if you donít, keep your head up and make sure you learn something from it because if you donít and you just let your ego get in the way then you pretty much just wasted $70 to $90. Know that when you leave that building, that one day really didnít affect your future in anyway and that you will always be able to get better and test yourself again.
What I like to do to help me from getting tunnel vision and zoning out while Iím grappling is when I first step on the mat. I look around in the bleachers and turn my body 360 degrees and I take in the spectators and the environment. This helps my mind adjust to the open environment and helps me focus on my opponent during the match. This also helps me relax.
Practice breathing. Practicing my breathing helps me to relax and focus. It helps me keep a clear mind and it also helps me control the adrenaline that is kicking in. By doing this it keeps me from getting gassed out quickly even though I probably had the conditioning. Youíd be surprised on what your adrenaline can do to you and if you donít control it. Youíll gas out fast and feel like youíre hyperventilating. So take the time before your matches to close your eyes, visualize, and breathe. Many times right when I step onto the mat I take in two or three deep breathes in though my nose and out of my mouth. This helps slow my heart rate.
Remember to breathe when youíre out there, donít breathe in with your mouth. Please, I repeat PLEASE do not hold your breath when youíre out there. First of all if you have high blood pressure itís not good for you and second of all youíll gas out in a second.Also breathe in through your nose. Donít breathe in through your mouth. Breathing in through your mouth takes more energy and also gives the feeling of hyperventilation which in turn leads to you losing your wind and not even being able to move your own arms. Trust me, I know. Breathing is a big part of the game that many people lack. If you get this down itís going to bring you one step closer to not ever having to worry about gassing out when you roll.Itís usually a good idea to watch your opponents who compete before you. The reason is because it gives you a good perspective on what type of game they might play. This will help get you ready for them if you were to meet up in later matches. You may see someone who pulls guard right away, and this may help you go for the takedown quicker because you know theyíre going to pull guard anyone. Or you may see someone with a really good guard and you might be able to pull guard on them to stop them from playing their game.
Either way by watching your opponentís it usually helps you get a little understanding about what it is that they day do.
Try to have your instructor or someone from your team be there on the sidelines with you to help coach you. This is a great resource because your coach can usually see many things and opportunities that you canít see yourself. This will give you the ability to open up your game a bit more.
One important thing however is to not forget that your coach is out there trying to help you when youíre actually competing. Many people get out on the mat and they lose perspective of everything around them. This makes it much harder for someone to coach you because when you are in this situation you probably donít even know your coach is there anymore. So do your best to stay focused. Anytime you have the chance to listen to your coach or if you have great control and you can even look at him (just pay attention to what youíre doing also) then do so. It will help.
Do not drink orange juice or any acidic type of drink the day of your match. You donít want to be the only person in the gym throwing up on the mat do you?
Bring water but donít over drink the water. Youíll be surprised on how dry your mouth will get just because of your nerves. Take in little sips here and there to keep your mouth moist. Also make sure you donít drink too much water to where youíre full because youíll definitely feel it.
Do some sort of yoga or meditation exercises the night before. By doing this it helps you relax the night before and clear your mind. Keeping you from getting nervous the night before and losing sleep. Doing some relaxation yoga or meditation exercise before you go to sleep will help you get a better nights sleep.
Make sure you bring your mouthpiece. I know a lot of people donít where mouth guards when they compete even though the competitions say that you have to where one, but the one day you get smashed in your mouth and lose a tooth then youíll definitely wish you wore a mouth piece. Trust me I know from experience when I chipped one of my teeth from not wearing a mouth piece.
Bring flip flops or sandals. Please do not be one of those people who walk in those disgusting bathrooms without any shoes or socks on and then steps on the mats. I really donít understand it and itís not the most sanitary thing in the world. Do help the grappling community be clean and bring a pair of flip-flops or sandals to where when you walk around the gym. They are easy to take on and off before you compete and it helps prevent the spread of disease.
Expect a long day. Unfortunately 95% of all grappling tournaments last forever so if you know what to expect right in the beginning it will help you get mentally prepared. So if you read this you now know that there is a big chance you will be waiting around for a while to compete. Make sure you stay focused and tell yourself that you knew it was going to be like this.
Itís a good idea to bring something to pass the time. You can bring a book to read, a portable DVD player, some cards, an iPod, a portable video game console or something, but whatever you bring it will help the day go by much better without having anything at all.
Out of all of these the biggest tip I can give you is to have FUN. If youíre not having fun then whatever you went through for the competition really isnít worth it. You need to have fun even when youíre trying your hardest to win. You should be in there not only to win, but to have a good time and a great learning experience.
Activities without fun turn into work. Do you really want to work anymore then you already do? I know I donít.
Thanks for reading!
Posted On:8/20/2007 10:17am
Style: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Originally Posted by jasculs
Unfortunately 95% of all grappling tournaments last forever
Quoted for funniness, as well as truth.
Cool article. Definitely rings true to the tournament experience I have so far.
Posted On:8/20/2007 10:31am
Yeah....pretty much most, if not all of these tips are from my own tournament experiences.
Knee + Head = Black Eye * 2
Posted On:8/20/2007 1:04pm
Style: Judo, BJJ
My roommate had a series he wrote on tournaments. Below is the first part:
I've been participating in tournaments and competitions ever since I was 15. Sometimes as a participant, sometimes as a coach, sometimes as a referee, and I've even been one of the "behind the scenes" guys making sure that everything goes smoothly.
The activities these tournaments and competitions have included wrestling, tennis, poker, jiu-jitsu, chess, Magic: the Gathering, baseball, swing dancing, billiards, government, and (believe it or not) math.
This series is going to explain the different roles of people in tournaments and the things they need to do to make things enjoyable and smooth for everyone.
To start off, here are some general tips for everybody, whether you're the organizer,a spectator, or a participant.
1) Meet people
I cannot stress this enough. I may be a bit biased towards this, as I'm a talker, but meeting people is by far one of the most important things I've found to make a tournament enjoyable.
Why do this?
-Everyone there has a similar interest. Easy ice breaker.
-A lot of people travel a long way to participate. Believe it or not, their style and practice regimen is probably going different than yours. You can probably pick something new up.
-If you do a lot of tournaments, you're going to start seeing the same people over and over again. You may as well get to know them.
-Meeting your opponents is a good way (at least, for me) to become less nervous. At the jiu jitsu tournament I was just at, one of the guys in my bracket is a soldier for the army stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska, one is from Boise, Idaho, and another happened to be from the same hometown as me (he just happens to be five years younger, so we never met). Walking into a match with someone I'm friendly with always seems to relax me.
-Meeting people gives you more incentive to watch their matches. It's fun having an (albeit, small) emotional stake in each match.
I have a bunch of stories from tournaments involving people I had made the effort to meet. Some are as simple as hanging out in the stands cheering each other on; one involves a wrestling tournament where we each went by ourselves (with no family or coaches), met, and ended up coaching each other to the finals where we faced each other.
-Meet the organizer. If you introduce yourself beforehand, it will mean more when you say he/she did a good job, and will make it easier to give constructive criticism on how to run it better next time (if it comes to that).
Too many people show up at a tournament, do their thing, and leave. Spend the day there. Watch other matches. You're going to see some great stuff throughout the day, regardless of skill level. Some of the best matches I've seen have been absolute beginner versus absolute beginner. If you're at a non-athletic competition (perhaps a jazz festival or swing dance competition), there are going to be some great performances from people who have worked hard. Plus, the more spectators at competitions like these, the more motivating it is to get up and do a good job.
3) Have fun
Think about the tournaments you're going to enter. What is the point of them? Unless you're a world class athlete, or a professional poker or Magic player, most of these tournaments are designed to <em>get people with a common interest together.</em>
Winning? Sure, that's always fun. But you could be the Northwest's best Magic: the Gathering player and 95% of the world isn't going to care. Same with wrestling or tennis. Besides, there's always someone better than you somewhere in the world.
The point is, make sure that you enjoy yourself. I have as many good memories from tournaments where I've been blown out as from tournaments where I've dominated. The moment is stops being fun is when you stop going.
Originally Posted by Osiris
Imagine if track was run like the martial arts community. While the winning teams would just sprint down the field, smoking the competition, you'd have a bunch of losers running around explaining how they can skip down the track just as fast. Never mind that it doesn't fucking work. Oh no, they're too fast for track. They run on the STREET.
Posted On:8/20/2007 1:25pm
Great Additional Information
Posted On:8/20/2007 1:38pm
Style: Krav Maga (4), BJJ white
Good stuff. Thanks for the post!
Posted On:8/20/2007 3:45pm
Originally Posted by PizDoff
Welcome to the site, hope you are stick around.
Thanks. No more need to keep posting your website like this, the site was spammed when it was first started earlier this year.
Got it...definitetly not trying to spam...I'll keep the links for only articles I post in the future.
Posted On:8/20/2007 8:49pm
There's a few key, key things that don't really seem to have been covered yet so I'll throw them in (from a judo perspective but a grappling tournament is a grappling tournament).
1) Warm up. You really, really need to figure out what works for you. Some guys don't need much of a warm-up and others need a ton. Personally if I don't feel like I've had a match already I'll come out to my first one like I'm asleep. Figure out how much of a workout you need prior to your first match. This can be further complicated by the length of the day and the time interval between your warm-up and when you actually compete. I usually do a heavy warm-up before the tournament starts and then a lighter one just before I go out. I also do about ten minutes of heavy visualization, going through the process of a few matches in my head. I know it sounds hokey but it made a huge improvement on my focus once I started it. If you are a slow starter it might make a big difference and I'd recommend going to a sports psychologist who does it to get started.
2) Stay warm! There's no point in warming up then throwing on a t-shirt and shorts and walking around barefoot. Wear sweats throughout the day and keep socks on. You want to maintain yourself in a loose and warm state throughout the day. I found that it helps psychologically as well, taking off the outer gear becomes a cue that it's time to really go. Once you're done each match, bundle up again so you don't cool down and stiffen up.
3) Eat appropriately. This is going to be different for everyone. I knew guys who ate steak and eggs the morning of a tournament and that worked for them. Marmalade and toast was my thing. You need to figure out what you can eat and not bother your stomach. This is even more important throughout the day. Eat lots of light things and try to keep eating as far away from your match time as you can. There is nothing worse than not being able to really try to escape out of a pin because you're pretty sure if you really arch and push you're going to hurl (been there).
Posted On:8/20/2007 8:55pm
Hey Judobum....Great Additions!....I definitely agree with being warm before your match.
Posted On:8/26/2007 8:12am
Style: Wrestling & BJJ
I have only been in a few. But I will say from my point of view, it's the speed at which things happen. In competition people always grip harder, move quicker and can fight longer. Think about it. Your up against people who have had a few months notice to prepare. Thats a few months to get their cardio and technique in top condition for the big day.
You won't be fighting anyone after a 2 hour training class. Everyone turns up fresh and strong and the better person wins. That alone has a whole new feeling.
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