View Full Version : BJJ Competition questions

5/16/2005 9:27pm,
I'm new to BJJ and MA's in general. I had a conversation the other day with one of our purple belts who does well in competition and competes often. He was explaining to me the value of competition and that I should start competing as soon as possible. He said that you have absolutely nothing to lose and just competiting will lift your game to a whole new level. That being said, I have NO game. I have been training hard 3-5 times per week. I have a poped rib right now but it doesn't seem like it will take too long to heal. Right now I'm repping techniques over and over and not rolling live until they let me.

At what point in training would start competiting? I don't mind losing as I have no ego. A year ago I was almost 100 pounds overweight and a donut eating couch potato, so a loss in any competition is a step up. Is there a basic skill set that you would want to have in your arsenal before entering?


5/16/2005 9:33pm,
Competitions have brackets for almost every experience level, so just get out there as soon as you can. I competed after 5 month. I know people who competed after 2 weeks. The sooner you compete, and the more you compete, the better.

5/16/2005 9:40pm,
I should also say that this purple belt said that he lost in the first round in his first 5 tourneys. He is a 150 pound beast now.

5/16/2005 11:14pm,
Everyone you'll be competing against is most likely thinking the same exact thing as you are. You're not getting put in there against some advanced purple belt or someone like that who's going to massacre you on the mat- you're going to fight other white belts, who have similar weight, age, and training time relative to you.

I do agree that competing improves your game alot- it says alot for a man when he can control his emotions in such a stressfull environment. The biggest thing I believe you get from tournaments is confidence.

5/17/2005 9:13am,
I'm 0-3.

I'm also way better because of it.

5/17/2005 12:14pm,
I went to my first competition about 4 months into my training and got killed. It was good fun.

5/17/2005 12:46pm,
I have a lot of things to say here. I'll break it up a little bit.

First and foremost you need to let your rib heal before you even THINK about competing. I took 4+ weeks off. Came back a week, got it injured again. Took another month off. Trained a month and competed at the United Gracie tourney last weekend.

Second, you WILL get better by competing. There are a lot of reasons why.

1) The preparation for the tournament is intense. You will be focused and motivated. Oftentimes the best rolls you will have are pre-competition. Your best conditioning will be pre-tourney.

2) Your competition brings out the best in you. You are matched with people that have similar experience, weight, and age. In short, it will be the most level playing field you can have and a good test of where you are in comparison to others at your bracket.

3) The intensity of competition matches is much higher than at your school. Think of it this way. You get on the freeway and drive at 80mph. You get off the freeway and drive at 40mph. Everything seems slow motion. You can think faster because you were FORCED to react to operating at that higher speed. The effects may be temporary but they are cumulative. Taking this example to the JJ world, you are in effect driving at high speed at competition forced to react quicker and think faster and overall operate at a higher level. When you return to your school, everything will be easier because you had to operate at the higher level at the tournament.

Third, there is no one on this earth without an ego. Do not deny it. We all have one. Competition feeds that ego in a healthy way. Winning is an exhilarating feeling. One of the best on earth. And of course, everyone loves a winner. Self confidence has a lot to do with ego. Recognize that you don't have to be an ego-maniac to be confident and that there are good effects to having one. I find that the people we think of as ego-maniacs are often overcompensating for low self esteem and low confidence to project an IMAGE of confidence. But you can immediately sense someone with REAL confidence. These guys have an ego but have mastered it. Competition is a tool to do this.

Now that isn't to say you should only compete to win and stroke your ego. Nobody wins all the time. In fact it takes practice to learn HOW to win. And the experience you get from losing builds the experience it takes to win. Losing can be a great motivator if you let it. Oftentimes it is actually more of a motivator than winning. For example, I watch the tapes of my wins only a few times. But I watch tapes of my losses dozens sometimes a hundred times. Replaying each mistake and missed opportunity in order to learn from them. The thing is losing can also build your ego in a different way than winning. It can teach humility while fostering the hunger to win. Some people lose once and dread the feeling so badly that they never compete again. The fear of having their ego damaged hurts so bad they create barriers for themselves. But the guys who lose, lose, lose and continue to compete develop indominatable spirit. Eventually these guys will win. And they will continue to win because they understand both sides.

Fourth, the specific question you asked is about a skill set you need to compete. The things I can say about this are you need to be in good shape. Competitions will test you physically. Don't compete if you aren't in shape. You will rob yourself of potential victory. And nothing feels worse than defeating yourself. Also, the 'techniques' needed are no different than what you see at the gym. White belts only have a few submissions, maybe a sweep and a pass and barely any throws. It's okay! Other white belts have the same skill set! The only difference is that you know YOUR stuff better. You cannot 'cram' for a tournament. You cannot hope to learn 1000 techniques in hopes to be ready for any situation that arrises. Nope. You will just be confused and stand there like a deer in the headlights.

Instead, it would be better to know 3 techniques VERY well and have confidence in them. Let me take that further. In competition I only use 2 or 3 throws. Sure I KNOW dozens. But the ones I use are MY techniques. The ones I feel supremely confident in. And chokes account for 80% of my submissions in competition. Of those, more than half are lapel chokes that include the clock. The other subs are various stuff that I don't use as much. When you look at black belts compete they use the SAME techniques that most of us use, and more often than not they use the same techniques they have been using since blue belt. They just do them REALLY well. So well in fact they have become unstoppable with them.

5/17/2005 1:01pm,
I went into my competition career (5-2 at the moment) knowing nothing and won. The competative level with women is different -- I was physically dominate to a huge degree my first real tournament -- and completely changed my confidence level. It'll do the same for you.

But wait for the rib to heal.

5/17/2005 1:11pm,
I ended my previous post prematurely. I should have said why *I* compete.


That is the number one reason I compete. It is the fear. The anxiety that eats away at me in the middle of the night. The fear drives me. I find that...I like it.

Some might say this is unhealthy. Some would say that I need some psychological help. I don't care. I know that I train because I like to compete. I compete because fighting is in my nature. I know that I am a much more relaxed and balanced person when I train hard. Things seem to roll off my shoulders that much easier.

Now lets get down to it. The fear. It doesn't go away. In every challenging endeavor in life there is fear. Fear of failure. Fear of defeat. Fear of whatever. But in competition there is the fear of being beaten. And of course, there are a number of ways to be beaten. You can be beaten by an opponent. You can beat yourself mentally by not preparing correctly. You can beat yourself by not preparing physically. You can beat yourself completely by backing out of competition and succumbing to fear. And lets be real. You can get really fucked up out there. Your knee can get wrecked (ACL $18k later I still compete), you can have your neck broken, etc. The fear is real.

And don't ever think you can BEAT your fear and become fearLESS. You can simply master it. After what is literally at least a hundred matches in various disciplines I still fear fear. But I am familiar with it. It no longer keeps me up at night and paralyzes me. I can operate under extreme pressure and under the effects of fear. People who say they aren't afraid are silly. They are either lying or are too stupid to realize the danger.

People who know I am in martial arts always ask the same stupid question. Aren't you scared when you get into [street] fights? I say no. I am not 'afraid' of some stupid fistfight anymore. They think all that training makes you fearless. I can't really explain it to them in any other way than this: In a streetfight you have only seconds to prepare your mind and even recognize the fear. It is quick. More than likely you react before you can even acknowledge the fear. You get hit, you fight. Its over. Wheras with competition...oh man. You have months to live with that fear. The weeks prior to the fights your stomach can turn over a hundred times as you replay previous opponents in your mind. The night before the fights your asshole is puckered up everytime you think about getting on the mat. The day of the fight you see your opponent. This aint no noobie. This guy knows everything you know and is equally prepared. You know the dangers. Now THAT is fear. The kind of lingering fear and anxiety that would absolutely paralyze most people. So no, I don't worry about 'streetfights' anymore. Pfffft. How stupid. If they happen, they happen. I wont have time to prepare and I certainly wont have weeks of anxiety beforehand. And when you look at it from that point of view - defending yourself seems almost....too easy when compared to competition.

So there it is. Competition is a tool to master fear. And in mastering fear I make myself more than I was before. I am terrified of hieghts. Yet I go skydiving. You see what I am saying here?

5/17/2005 1:21pm,
Additionally what you know and what you can do are highlighted in competition relative to even intense in class rolling.

5/17/2005 1:27pm,
So there it is. Competition is a tool to master fear. And in mastering fear I make myself more than I was before. I am terrified of hieghts. Yet I go skydiving. You see what I am saying here?

I think facing your fears headfirst and beating them is one of the most rewarding feelings in the world.

5/17/2005 1:49pm,
I think facing your wife headfirst and beating her is one of the most rewarding feelings in the world.

5/17/2005 9:20pm,
What can i say...yrkoon..

Thank you for takin the time to write those informative posts. I will be setting my sights on starting to compete sometime in July. I should be fully healed by then, and hopefully I'll have a decent grasp of the basics.

LOL Dochter!

5/17/2005 9:25pm,

Would you spend most of your time rolling in preparation or would you incorporate other methods of endurance training. I recently started a kettlebell circuit training routine that is really tough. Being that I cannot do any rolling while I'm injured, I will be using this to help with endurance. Do any of you have any experience with kettlebells, and if so would you only do it on days when you aren't rolling?