While most people that do sign up to train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will end up competing at one point or another, not all of them are going to become BJJ competitors. On the two ends of the spectrum of people that grapple we have recreational athletes and hardcore competitors. Most people fall somewhere in between, training with a certain intensity, but doing it for recreational purposes rather than thinking only about competing as much as possible. While this mindset means a different approach to training, what BJJ competitors do on the day of a tournament on and off the mats, matters even more.
Competing in BJJ is not an easy thing to do, but boy is it fun! If you are all about adrenaline, there’s hardly a better thing to do! That said, BJJ competitors are not just the folks that decide to step out on the mats and try their hand. In order for you to be known as a competitor, you’ll have to have a very specific approach to not just training, but a lifestyle in general, given how demanding regular Ju-Jitsu competition can be. However, at the end of the day, what matters is what happens on fight day both in preparation for your fights and once you are on the mats.
The Ups And Downs BJJ Competitors Face
As attractive as it may be for various reasons, being Jiu-Jitsu competitor is not an easy thing. It will require a level of dedication you might not be used to before. Moreover, given that you will have to compete often if you have goals of making it as a pro competitor, be ready to allow competition to pretty much steer what you do and don’t do every single day.
Simply put, the easiest part of competing is what happens on the mats on fight day, and that is something BJJ competitors know really well. The hard stuff is all done way before a tournament. As you probably presume, the most important part of the puzzle is actual BJJ training. However, slacking through warm-ups, doing a few random techniques and rolling without a purpose won’t cut it for BJJ competitors. training has to be precise, thought out, and measurable if you want to gauge any and all progress. I addition to that, tactics and mindset also have to be regularly discussed, developed, and trained in addition to just grappling.
It goes without mention that you will need to be in fighting shape, given that all your opponents will most definitely be in one. That just means that you will need to have great (not just good) cardio, a decent level of strength, and have a meal plan that you can pull off in order to me it to your desired weight class.
Finally, there are goals. As a competitor, you will feel the good and bad of winning and losing, and every victory will be immense. At the end of the day, though, until you turn pro, you will basically be paying to compete for a medal that’s not even worth the entry fee. IF you are ready to go over it without giving it a second thought, you are ready to embrace the life of a BJJ competitor.
The 4 Tournament Mistakes That Can Cost You A Tournament
In terms of writing about preparing for a BJJ tournament, I would need to write a book in order to encompass all the things people have at their disposal when preparing to compete. After all, not everyone will prepare the same way or has the same goals, abilities, limitations, etc.
A more helpful way of addressing helpful tips for BJJ competitors is focusing on common things people get wrong, even at the professional level, that might end up costing them a match. While there are lots of those as well, four common culprits seem to be popping up all the time, which is exactly what we’re going to focus on today.
Weight Cuts Gone Wrong
First and foremost, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a weight-class regulated sport. You have to fit within a certain weight class to be able to enroll in a competition. Sure, there are absolute divisions, but in order to reach those, in most cases, you have to place among the top 4 of your own weight class. In other words, you’ll need to shed a few pounds if you are to make it since common practice dictates that you want to cut weight so you’re as heavy as possible within a given weight class. This should provide a slight advantage.
However, the only way in which you will actually gain that advantage is if you are able to compete and showcase your physical, tactical, and mental preparation. Most people resort to sub-optimal weight cutting methods that leave them depleted and barely moving. Expecting to fight in such a state is dumb, especially considering that weigh-ins for BJJ competitors take place just moments before their first match. In other words, drop most popular MMA cutting methods, and focus on something sustainable.
Solution: Check out Geroge Lockhart’s scientific System designed specifically for safe and effortless weight cutting.
This is a big thing even in training. I get how boring and tedious warm-ups are, I hate them as well. I will propose a new and improved method for BJJ warm-ups in a future article. Until such a time though, especially when it comes to tournaments, do not go in cold. I know you think you can do it, and most likely you can.
What matters is that when you go in cold, you might grapple well, and it doesn’t mean you will get injured for sure. However, you will tire out faster, you will feel more fatigue and after the match (or during, if it is prolonged or) you will experience the adrenaline dump more profoundly. Since that first match at tournaments pretty much sets the pace for what happens, later on, warming up is imperative and not something to consider as optional. Plus, it will help you calm your nerves down.
Just design a thorough warm-up for yourself, one that you know will hit all the spots that need to loosen up. Moreover, make sure you roll a round wi that training partner, however light it may be.
Solution: Check out some key issues with common BJJ warm-ups and how to fix them to fit the needs of BJJ competitors.
The stuff you do in between matches will make a world of difference in your performance. For starters, in between matches, you have to make sure you rehydrate and replace fluids you most likely lost as a result of a weight cut, no matter how small the cut was. Some coconut water, or using a mixture of salt, water, honey, and perhaps lemon and/or orange juice is a great way to quickly make up for lost electrolytes and get a kick of energy. Some commercial energy bars or drinks might also do the trick.
Having someone massage your forearms is also a great idea, especially if you are in a Gi tournament. That, or doing some simple recovery routine, given how much time you have.
Solution: Try out Joe DeFranco’s Limber 11 routine. Perfect for BJJ competitors of all belt levels.
Winging It (No Game Plan)
This is the one mistake that happens on the mats which you can control – to an extent. Namely, while you can’t predict how a match will unfold, you can definitely have a game plan of your own that will give you a blueprint of possible scenarios and solutions to problems before they even arise. That said, you will have to also know when to go off plan and improvise, as it is crucial to success. The one thing to keep in mind is that trying to wing everything and figure things out as they go is pretty much a great way to fall into the opponent’s spiderweb that is their game plan.
Do not go into a BJJ Tourmalet without a game plan. And yes, this applies to white belt BJJ competitors too!
Solution: Work on a precise BJJ gameplan for your tournament, and make sure it involves your coach and corner.
If you want to be a part of the BJJ competitor’s circle, you will have to put in the time needed to really become one. It is not as easy as putting a gi on and going to a tournament to compete. You can expect your opponents to take everything much more seriously, which means you should too. That said, doing fewer things wrong will mean you increase your chances of optimal performance much more than only looking to do “the right things”.