You may not even realize it, but you’ve probably made some enemies at some point on the competition circuit. I’m not talking about victories and defeats on the mat. I’m talking about simple mistakes throughout the tournament than can leave your fellow competitors with a bone to pick.
Here are the top three ways you’re making enemies without even knowing it:
3. Not telling an event coordinator that you won’t be competing in a division you’re signed up for. Things happen, life happens. Maybe you got a flat tire, maybe you know you’re going to miss weight, maybe you’re sick and unable to compete… whatever the reason, you should take a moment to email or message an event coordinator. This also applies if you plan to leave a tournament early and miss a division.
I don’t know if it’s embarrassment, laziness, or just inconsideration, but this happens all too often. Competitors are left waiting in the pit for an opponent who never shows up. It may not seem like a big deal, but people travel long distances for tournaments and are often waiting for that one match to finish their day and head home. It can also mess with a person’s game for the day. That extra hour in the pit can have massive effects on their preparation, warm up, and overall stamina. A competitor can enter the pit in the perfect mindset, body perfectly warm, and then spend an hour or more waiting. If you’re the person who just never shows, you’re definitely making enemies.
2. Not being aware of tournament guidelines prior to check in. Almost as bad as the “no show” is the “I need my ID?” guy. Yes, you need your ID. You also need to know exactly what weight you need to be, whether you’re weighed in the gi or not, how long your sleeves and pants need to be, whether rash guards are allowed underneath your gi, etc. Each tournament has different guidelines, so you need to do a little homework before you show up. If you’ve read the guidelines and you’re still unclear, ask your coach or an event coordinator before the event. Weighing in and lining up in the pit is not the time to get your stuff together. If you’re the person responsible for leaving a mat empty while you get it together, other people are definitely noticing.
1. Being a bad sport (win or lose). This one might seem a little more obvious, and it should be. If you’ve avoided pitfalls 2 and 3, don’t be the idiot who loses it all with this one. Whether you win or lose a match, do it gracefully. Gloating, showboating, talking sh*t, whatever you want to call it… it’s never a good look on anyone. And if you lose, respecting your opponent’s skill is the best way to walk off the mat. If you become the person who makes a scene after every match, you are definitely on a lot of “do not cross train” lists.
A jiu-jitsu tournament is a great place to meet really cool people who share your interests, but it’s also sometimes a place where a lot of as*holes show their true colors. As with any social setting, be considerate of other people and they’ll likely be more considerate of you.
What are some of the most frustrating tournament behaviors you’ve encountered? How did you handle it?