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One of the best ways to test your mettle as a BJJ student is through competition. Competition reveals more about your abilities as a BJJ student than a class ever will. It tests you both mentally and physically, as you step onto the mats and reveal to everyone and yourself how you perform under duress. But most importantly, joining a competition will help you improve by leaps and bounds as it reveals both your weaknesses and strengths. If you’re deadset on becoming a well-rounded BJJ student, then competing is definitely for you.
If you’re unsure about being ready for your first tournament, check out our article. Once you’ve gone through our checklist and made your decision, here are a few tips to help you get through your first BJJ tournament:
1) Get familiar with the rules
The ruleset of a BJJ tournament depends on the organization in charge. Once you’ve registered, make sure you understand the rules of the tournament you’re joining. If you’re still unsure, don’t hesitate to ask your instructor for advice. Chances are, he’s probably participated in a competition with similar rules.
The more familiar you are with the rules of your BJJ tournament, the easier it will be to use them to your advantage. You should also know the rules to avoid committing any illegal moves or showing up without the proper attire, not making weight, etc. The more you know, the better!
2) Get a good night’s rest
Although your nerves may eat you alive, it’s important to attempt to get a good night’s rest. Trust us, you’ll definitely need all the energy you can get. Because it’s your first competition, you’ll probably feel anxious before your first match – and that’s completely normal, not to mention emotionally and physically draining.
As much as possible, try not to train the night before or even a few days before the event. Your body will need a break from all that heavy tournament training and it will definitely need some rejuvenation for the big day. Just relax (if you can)!
3) Work on your stand up game
If you haven’t been working on your stand up game, you need to start ASAP. Most, if not all tournaments start with the competitors on their feet. You need to be comfortable with taking down your opponent, pulling guard and defending your opponent’s attempts. Once your opponent has taken you down, it may be difficult to enforce your game or use your game plan. Also, takedowns are usually worth two points, so staying on top of your stand up game could certainly work to your benefit.
4) Warm up properly
If you’ve watched a BJJ tournament, you’d know how there’s usually a lot of waiting time before a match. You’ll see competitors milling around the mat area, waiting for their turn. Because of the long waiting time, competitors often don’t warm up before their match properly. As you probably already know, not warming-up could cause injury, especially since you go from zero activity to full speed. Before your division is up, warm-up as you would in a regular class or foam roll. If there is a lot of space to warm up, do some light drills or flow roll with a partner.
5) Bring two sets of everything
Before competition day, double check the gi and no-gi requirements. Some tournaments are strict about patches, the length of the pants and arms of your gi. If you aren’t sure about your gi, double check with your instructor. But just to be sure, bring two sets of gis and no-gi attire. Because you and your opponent are in competition mode, accidents happen and you’d be surprised to see how often gi pants/tops tear. Be prepared!
Regardless of the outcome of your first competition, don’t forget to treat it as a learning experience. Be proud of yourself and all that you’ve accomplished thus far. Acknowledge your hard work and the fact that you’ve pushed yourself out of your comfort zone. So go forth and go for that gold! You got this!