Why Competitions Are So Hard To Win

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So, I recently competed at a decent-sized tournament. After doing some sulking around and watching the rest of my division, I stumbled out into the hall outside the gymnasium and saw a guy I knew from a few years back. He was sitting against the wall with his belt hanging from his neck and sweat pouring from his face.

I asked him about his match and he said something that really resonated with me. He spoke of how unforgiving the sport of jiu-jitsu is.

This sounded strange, but in reality, it is quite brilliant, because it truly illuminated the core reasons why it is so hard to consistently win tournaments.

Here are the primary reasons for this situation we find ourselves in from time to time.

Match Times

Simply put, there never seems to be enough time. Yes, submissions do occur, but often it’s losing by a few points or an advantage that stings the most.

While the time limits may seem reasonable to people who are unfamiliar with the sport, we all know they aren’t.  There simply isn’t enough time to play catch up in most scenarios.

Positional Dominance

It is really hard to get back to a starting point in BJJ. Once things start going bad, it is so easy for them to get progressively worse. When you get your guard passed, or get swept, it can end up costing the match. Even if you recover position, you can end up running into the aforementioned problem of match time.

Sticky Situations

Related to the former, it is also easy to get stuck in the same position for nearly the whole match and end up out-pointed by advantages. While this situation is specific to the IBJJF format, the IBJJF is the biggest promotion around.  Some of the guards these days can be ridiculously hard to pass, which I think is even harder at brown and purple belt levels when people have a good understanding of the art and the time limits are even shorter.

Outside Circumstances

These suck, but they are a reality.  Some of these can be referee calls, interference, not having a coach, injuries not caused by a submission, ending up in unfamiliar territory, or misinterpretations of the rules which can end in a disqualification or losing by points. While somewhat rare, they do happen and add another level of complexity.

Unfamiliar Territory

I mentioned this earlier, but it deserves its own category. With so many moves out there, and so many different games, it is hard to always be prepared for everything. We all also have some things we are good at and some things we are not. While we need to work on our weaknesses, it is easy to end up against a guy who exploits them well.

What are your thoughts on the complexity of Jiu Jitsu competition and how unforgiving the sport can be?

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