It’s been a long time since I last updated my podcast but I will try to be more consistent going forward. Expect better audio quality and awesome guest soon.
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.
Competing is scary. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first time or your 250th time.
That’s because your competition rises with your skill.
You could be the best white belt competitor in the world. Get your blue belt and immediately get demolished.
And that’s an important part of competition.
It’s a humbling experience that really shows you what you’re made of.
It doesn’t really matter how well you do. But how you react under pressure.
Are you able to perform your techniques against a unfamiliar and fully resisting opponent?
I can tell you that many traditional martial arts were missing this aspect.
They became eco chambers of antiquated movements and techniques.
Which is why Jiu Jitsu was such a breath of fresh air when it first came on the scenes in the United States after the first Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
It originally was all about techniques that could and would help you in a fight.
That arm bar that you’re learning in class will work against a mugger trying to steal your wallet.
That choke hold that you learned in your very first lesson can also be used to subdue an assailant.
Ideally, everything you learn in Jiu Jitsu can be used to help protect yourself and is constantly being reinforced through drills and sparring.
Going back to how tournaments are a great experience for you.
Well, you can think of a match as a simulated altercation which can seem a bit off putting.
However, it’s a good approximate.
Because very often you won’t know the person you’re competing against.
Giving you the unknown factor because you probably won’t know their move set, strength level, aggressiveness, etc.
Lots of unknowns that you can’t plan for. You will have to use your training to adapt to your opponent as best you can.
And most importantly, is dealing with nerves.
This is where a competition is really great for. It exposes you to that adrenaline dump that you get when you feel threatened.
That very primal instinct deep inside everyone.
That flight or fight response that we all have and helps familiarize you to it.
Of course, the nervousness that comes with it never goes away. But it does become easier to control and eventually harness.
So if you’re on the fence about whether or not you should compete.
Give it a try at least once in your life.
Test yourself and see what you’re really made of. Because it could help save your life one day.