Competition: Why do I love it ?

Competition: Why do I love it ?

Competition: Why do I love it ? ( aka why would you want to get smashed in front of hundreds of complete strangers )

If you asked most people what they like to do for fun on the weekends, they would probably not answer : step onto a stage in front of hundreds of people to fight with a complete stranger! But it is one of my favorite activities.

For many, Jiu Jitsu competition can be intimidating. After all, the person you are up against has been training hard too... preparing to get out there and throw , pin, sweep, choke, arm bar, leg lock, or wrist lock you into submission. There is a chance you could lose … in front of a huge audience. So why do we do it?

Training every day at the gym is GREAT! You get to learn and practice techniques. You get a GREAT mental and physical workout. You get to spend time with your gym buddies and learn in a safe environment with people who you trust and who care about you. There is little risk of injury because everyone is careful and works with you.
But that's just it... the gym is safe. How will your techniques hold up out there in the real world. What if someone grabs you on the street. The adrenaline starts rushing. The attacker is out to kill and doesn't move like your favorite training partner. The attacker doesn't care if you get hurt. Will you freeze up? Will you go blank and forget everything that you learned? Will you forget some detail of technique that will cause your technique to fail?

Competition prepares us for battle. The adrenaline storm starts a week before. Waves of anticipation that you have to learn to ride and quell. The questioning and self doubt … will I be ready, will I make weight, will I forget … everything.. ! Then the moment of truth: stepping out onto that mat with only yourself to rely on. Only your training. Only your ability. Only your mental fortitude.

Just getting on the mat is a WIN. Even if you never make it to the podium or earn a medal, by facing those fears and learning to ride the adrenaline storm, you are preparing yourself for all that life can throw at you. By stepping on the competition mat, you are doing something that most people just do not have the mental strength to do !

And then the match : once you learn to focus in your moment, everything slows down. For me, it is like I am watching a movie. I can see every move. Feel every breath. When things go really right, I can see my opponent move almost before it happens ( that DOES NOT mean that I can always move fast enough to counter them or that I have enough skill or knowledge to stop them lol). My own movements are slowed as well, allowing me to make small adjustments and twist into correct positions. I hear my coach call out advice... and smile a little smile inside because I am already moving in that direction.
To be clear : when I watch replays of my matches, it looks nothing like this... often I look like a fish out of water, flopping around, struggling to escape from my partner's moves. Other times, I am winning and look cool and in control, but slow and not very coordinated lol. But in the moment, it is just me and the flow of the match.


When you are on the competition mat, your opponent is just as tough as you, and may be just as skilled as you. If you lose, you learn. You go back to the gym and work on correcting your mistakes. You learn the holes in your technique. You also learn which techniques work best for YOU. Your body, Your timing, Your strength.

You gain confidence. Knowing that if someone grabs you and the adrenaline starts to rush, you will be able to take a deep breath, dig down deep, and GO. Having confidence that if you trust in yourself and in your training, you will win and your attacker will fail.


Competition is not for the weak willed or the overly bold ( overconfidence will lose every time). Competition will change you and shape you like a sword in the forge, preparing you for battle. You will learn to face and control your fears. You will learn to breathe and maintain your focus in the face of fear and the adrenaline and other hormones that rush through your body as your flight or fight response kicks in. You will learn to maintain your cool and make good decisions in the moment.

You may start out training and thinking that you will never want to compete, but I challenge everyone to push yourselves. Step out of your comfort zone. Learn to breathe and focus in the face of adversity. Learn to overcome fear. Compete. Even if it is just once. There are no losers in BJJ competition. Remember, just by stepping on the mat, you have already won.

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