Being a black belt isn’t easy, its a journey of discovery
Competing is tough. It’s not easy. I think I’ve done everything from being self-deprecating to being like, man, I can do it.
I think it’s tough preparing yourself before your matches. I’ve touched on knowledge gaps before in previous posts but it’s always great to touch on this topic since there are new students joining Jiu Jitsu academies all over the world every day. The best preparation in my opinion is to make sure that you understand your positions as well as you can. That means having a deep understanding of your strong guard and passing techniques and knowing your attacks. As well as studying your week positions.
I recently competed and a big sticking point for me was passing the reverse De la Riva and stopping my opponents ability to invert. I had a few options but didn’t have them down enough to shut do my skilled opponent.
So that means lots of positional sparring from the reverse De La Riva guard when I get back home. Putting myself in it and really dialing down my passing so that I will be ready the next time around.
Preparation in your techniques is important but also mentally preparing yourself for the upcoming competition is key.
What has helped me at all levels of competition is going into the event with out any expectations because we can’t control if we win or not.
We can control our effort, but we can’t control if we get first place or second place. That’s another reason why competing is so tough. You can put in a ton of work and it still not pay off on that day and it’s okay. It’s not easy but you will survive this.
There’s been many times when I hating the training leading up to a competition.
It’s normal to ask yourself, “Why am I fucking doing this shit?” Or , “Why did I sign up for this tournament?”.
I do Jiu Jitsu as a vocation so I know the average person training has had similar thoughts cross their mind.
Enjoy the experience
I remember when I did the ADCC trials. I was very calm and I wasn’t thinking the whole day. I let myself enjoy the experience and I was able to perform better than I ever did because I didn’t have expectations.
I didn’t think about winning or losing. I just wanted to do my best.
Everyone’s mentality is different.
But I think universally it helps to stay positive. Don’t let negative thoughts affect you. Don’t let someone telling you about the other competitor distract you or try to change up your techniques or strategies last second. Don’t let anything get to you. I think it goes a long way. If you feel any negative thoughts, kill them immediately with positivity and rational thought. When you think you won’t perform. Remember all the hard work and sacrifice that you put in to make it to this point.
One thing that really helps me is realizing that everyone’s nervous. I think that’s something we don’t all talk about. Even the best guys in the world like Lucas Lepri and Marcelo Garcia, they’re nervous too even though they’re really great. However, I have noticed that they have a very strong belief in themselves. Like they just know — they can’t control their opponent — but they know intrinsically that their technique is really good and that they trained really hard.
I think you have to have that kind of mentality if you want to move forward in competing as well as with any challenges that you will have to face in life.
I think this really depends on the instructor.
If your academy does the traditional running warm up then you are out of luck. You will just have to practice those movements until they feel more natural.
Definitely get your rolls (forward and backwards) and shrimping down since they are super important.
I actually hate doing warm ups like this. I mean they are great for getting students warmed up and especially for beginners.
And I know I might trigger a lot of people saying this but I prefer to warm up with the techniques that I use. Of course, not starting at 100% right off the bat. But slowly easing into the more.
For instance, if I know I will be doing guard work. I like to warm up by going through my different options from my guard like my sweeps and submissions. Warming up both my mind and my body.
This is my preferred way to start my training as an advanced practitioner.
But I can tell you from teaching for so many years that everyone is different and has different goals from training Jiu Jitsu. Some might be into it for fitness, others for self defense, self confidence, competition, etc.
As an instructor the best thing I would do is just mix up the warm up so that it never catered to one group all the time.
Some days we would do takedowns to warm up since many academy’s neglect takedowns. Other days we would work more basic movements that the new guys might have missed and the higher belts had gotten rusty on.
So for the poster above, before quoting or continuing to complain. I would reach out to the instructor and voice your concerns.
Students very often forget that their instructors are people too and sometimes don’t even notice that students — particularly new students in this case — are struggling and may need to scale the class down a bit until you are able to keep up.
I believe your best bet would bet would be to talk to the instructor in advanced of the class or even message them your thoughts.
I know that I am not a mind reader. If I see a student struggling I will try my best to help. But if it’s in a class with 80 other students, it can be hard to address every student and give them attention that they need.