Most martial arts have one big thing in common – they’re very focused on competition. With the exception of Aikido and a few more, martial arts are highly competitive sports that require extensive preparations. Grappling martial arts are arguably second in difficulty only to MMA in terms of competition. As such, there are plenty of aspects to prepare for, when you’\re looking to go on a competitive run. BJJ tournaments are usually denser during one part of the year, meaning you’ll have plenty of competition opportunities in a small period of time. Correct preparation is going to make all the difference
BJJ tournaments are notoriously difficult competition affairs. First of all, unlike striking martial arts, or even other grappling arts, you spend most of the match in constant engagement with an opponent. From the moment grip-fighting begins on the feet, you’re most likely going to stay in contact with the opponent to the very end. Add to that the fact that a Jiu-Jitsu match takes place in more than one plane of motion and you have an exhausting challenge ahead of you. No wonder correct physical and mental preparation is key to winning in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu!
Facing your first tournament? Here’s a comprehensive checklist of essentials: https://bjj-world.com/the-white-belt-checklist-tournament/
Selecting BJJ Tournaments To Compete In
Before you start signing up for all the BJJ tournaments you come across, make sure you know what you’re getting in to. To begin with, be realistic about your travel opportunities and expenses. BJJ tournaments are no cheap endeavor, depending on who is organizing them and where. Even if you are a semi-professional or professional grappler, make sure your expenses do not exceed your income. Registration for your garden variety IBJJF tournament is about 80-120 USD depending on the size of the event. Add to that travel and accommodation expenses and you can see where your limit is.
Next, consider your competitive experience. What belt level are you and how much have you been competing? Is it the first tournament of the season or you’ve already had a few to get you going? And of course, make sure you know the level of competition that awaits you. Competing at the Worlds or Pan Ams in the adult purple belt divisions is not the same as competing at the master 2 purple belt division in a local tournament. Even if you do not have a large number of opponents (which is unlikely), you’re going to get top-level opposition at big events.
The tournament format is another major factor in preparation. Your game plan should include every technique available at a certain tournament. For example, if you’re at an ADCC format tournament, make sure you’re ready for heel hooks. IBJJF-wise, know the technical limitations in your respective age and belt level.
Finally, most BJJ tournaments close registration about a week before the tournament. Make sure you sign up early so that you don’t end up in the stands.
How To Get In Peak Physical Shape
In order to be physically ready for a Jiu-Jitsu tournament, you have to have a good training schedule. BJJ is on top of the list, so get in as many Jiu-Jitsu classes and open mat sessions as possible. Furthermore, roll with different levels of opposition and always look to execute your game plan. As competition time nears, you can focus more on rolling with a select group of tough opponents. Always look to implement your game plan and make sure you put in your fair share of drills!
On a strength and conditioning note, consider off-the-mats-training as your homework. Unless you’re a certified coach yourself, try to get a professional to write a routine just for you. Do not think you’ll get Andre Galvao results just by following his conditioning routine. The further you are from a grappling tournament, the more you can focus on strength training. Bodyweight, powerlifting, kettlebells, whatever suits you the best. As you near your tournament, as a general rule, focus more towards conditioning. It takes longer to build strength than a gas tank, so plan accordingly. If you have a few tournaments in a short time frame, make sure you just maintain physical attributes. And remember to lay off the intensive stuff at least a week prior to the competition!
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu being a weight-classes sport, you can go one of two ways. Eat what you want and compete at your natural weight, or work towards a specific weight class. Most grapplers look to cut a few pounds in order to fit into smaller weight classes. Weight cutting is a science in itself and needs to be taken seriously, given the potential health risks. Again, look for professional advice.
This is how to plan a workout and drop a few pounds: https://bjj-world.com/jiu-jitsu-workout-program-to-lose-fat/
Winning The Mental Battle
The mental side of things is as important as the physical in competitive terms. This is even more pronounced in BJJ, the game of human chess. Nerves are a very normal and expected occurrence for every competitor, regardless of experience. Everyone has them, the trick is knowing how to deal with them. For one, make sure you manage your expectations. If you’re an experienced competitor, grappling regularly than you have every right to set the bar as high as possible. The novice competitor should aim to get used to the environment of BJJ tournaments at first. Those in between, need to know what is too much. Safety is the primary concern so know the risks and leave your ego at home.
A very important trait grapplers need once they gain a certain amount of experience is the ability to analyze opponents. The more you compete, the more you’re going to know your opponents. The brackets that come out before a tournament offer a great opportunity to see who you’re starting against and who might come your way later on. Use this information to research your against is going to allow you to modify your game plan accordingly.
A great tool to help you relax and be ready for tournaments is visualization. Leading up to a tournament, spend a few minutes every day visualizing yourself in BJJ tournaments. However, focus on every aspect of a match instead of only daydreaming about the podium. Picture yourself in every possible bad position, so when you get caught in one it won’t be anything new or surprising to you. This technique has helped me a lot in my competition preparation.
Day Of Tournament Checklist
When the D-day comes, be certain that you have everything you need with you. Being 100% prepared means you won’t be in panicking at unforeseen situations and losing your focus. First, have all your gear ready. Know the Gi (or No-Gi) requirements for the tournament you’re competing in. Always try to bring an extra Gi or shorts, just in case. have your ID handy at all times and stay focused and loose.
Arrive early in the arena in order to get a feel for the space. Once you get there, go for a weight check. If you’re more of a Gi BJJ tournaments competitor, weigh-in with the Gi. Be ready to have a pound or two extra, depending on your weight cut. If that’s the case, run, jump rope or get a light sweat on to drop them in time.
Even if you’re on weight, you’ll need to get active and mobile. Competition warmups are tricky, as they need to be intense enough to get you going, but not tire you out. You’ll need to take nerves into account once again, and do not overdo it. Just make sure you’re not stiff and cold when they call your name.
Oh, and one more thing. Listen to your corner! THy see the fight from a much more different perspective than you and can give you great directions. Do not allow stubbornness to lead to defeat, just because you “know everything”. You don’t. So listen to your coaches and enjoy the rewards!
With good competition preparation, you can even be dominant in other grappling martial arts: https://bjj-world.com/bjj-black-belt-without-wrestling-background-wins-wrestling-tournament/