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Sunday, September 20, 2015


This is going to be Part 1 of 2 in a series of posts on competitions. Today we're going to look at competitions in general and in the subsequent post I'll touch on IBJJF competitions. What's the difference? Well, that's going to be part of what we're going to explore. Up to now--at this moment I'm writing this post--I've never competed in an IBJJF tournament; but I have done various other competitions. That's not to say that I'm not unfamiliar with IBJJF as a whole, but I just think it'll be a lot cooler to be able to give that personal first hand experience in a post rather than just regurgitating in my own words what's on their website. That being said, I'll be traveling to Las Vegas this week to compete in the IBJJF Masters Worlds in my first IBJJF event and, if nothing else, I'll come back with some good info for all of you. But first, let's look at competitions in general.

First thing is first: I've never heard of a school mandating that students compete. So if you're worried that you'll have to compete if you join a gym, I wouldn't worry about that. But that's not the focus of this post.

Competitions are fun. Even if you're still on the fence about whether or not you want to compete it's worth it to at least go out to watch and hang out with your training partners and cheer them on--all while watching other people compete. The whole atmosphere is fun. Vendors are there selling cool grappling stuff, food, etc. It's like a grappling town carnival. So if you're still questioning whether or not you want to get on the mat yourself, go check a competition out. At the very least you'll be supporting your friends and a good cause.

Q: When should I compete?
A: You should compete when you're ready to compete. Seriously, it's as simple as that. If you want to you should and if you don't want to, don't. Personally I don't think there's anything wrong with a No Stripe White Belt stepping out there and going for it. I've seen guys do exactly that and skyrocket their ability, skill, and experience.

I (middle) won some stuff in my first competition
Competitions WILL be good for you. I mean it--I don't Bold-Italic-Underline just anything ya know. Whether it's a NAGA event, or even just a small 'local' competition, you should sign up and get out there. Competing will give you a very real look at your game. You (probably) very rarely get to go 100% in class against someone. Doing that will shed light on your game as a whole; meaning where you're good and where you suck. (For more on being okay w/ where you suck check out this article I wrote for ). Both of those things are good to know to help take your development to the next level so that you can improve. Going 100% against a stranger is also a lot easier than you think. When you're training with your friends/training partners there's always going to be a level of friendliness that you don't have in competition with strangers. I don't mean that there's no mutual level of respect, I mean that you will naturally pass over the feelings of wanting to hold back to avoid 'being a jerk.' And that's a good thing. You get to apply your craft, your skill, your art with no restrictions. 

Speaking of restrictions, there actually are some. Specifically: Age, Rank, Weight, and sometimes Submissions. 

You're not going to compete against someone WAY better than you. You'll most likely be competing against someone close to your age and weight and rank. I say "most likely" because, in some cases, there might not be an abundance of competitors close enough to you in those regards; so it's not unheard of for some competitors to be asked to move up/down in weight and or age brackets. Personally, I've never heard of someone moving around in rank, but hey, who knows. I'd find it hard to believe that a White Belt would be matched up against a Purple, though. But it's not like you haven't rolled against higher ranks before anyway.  

In some competitions some submissions and take downs might be illegal; or at least barred from certain belt ranks. That's done for safety purposes. You might be a great White Belt, but you'd also be the exception. We don't want guys out there ripping heel hooks or kneebars on other guys who don't know they're in trouble and end up getting their bodies ruined on some silly nonsense. So some competitions may have those kinds of restrictions--obviously go to the Rules Meeting (every competition has one before the party starts) to confirm what you can, and can't do. Having said that, some competitions (NAGA) have no such restrictions; so you can get out there and heel hook everyone like you're Imanari or something. 

Winning is nice (OF COURSE), but really competing is more about getting out there and improving yourself. You're going to have fun, that I promise. You're going to be nervous too--also promised. But don't get hung up on any of those things. Your focus when competing should be roughly the same as your training: getting better. You're going to apply what you know and learn what you need to work on. Even if you do really well (up to and including winning every match by sub) you're still going to walk away knowing what you want to work on next. Local competitions are nice because there's a lot less pressure. Let's keep it real, IBJJF is serious stuff, but your smaller competitions will allow you to get out there and just have fun. 

Get out of the mentality that you have to win and focus more on doing well. BJJ competitions are sincerely a good example of 'just do your best.' You should at least know by now that doing your best in BJJ is sometimes good enough, and sometimes not; but the point of competing is getting out there and having fun with that! Show what you know! Get lose! Submit people. Get submitted :( ? Win by points. Lose by points. Shit.will.happen--as that's what it does--but that's the point. Get out there and put yourself to the test. But if after all this talking you still need a better reason, go be a warrior. Summon your inner Viking, samurai, ninja, or Buchecha and get out there a be a mat savage. Just don't forget to TWEET US and let me know how you did. 

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I love Q5 because it's designed with the grappler in mind (by grappling guys!(and they have the coolest slogan ever "STAY ALPHA)). Truly, I've seen the types of gains that ground fighters want. e.g. getting stronger, feeling better, and getting better results on the mat.
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Expanded Perspectives podcast.
If you're into the alternative histories, ancient cultures, science, cryptozoology, and the all around paranormal, this is the podcast you need to listen to. Why? Because it's fun! The hosts are also into BJJ & MMA. They present fun/interesting topics in a casual way that feels like you're in on the conversation--very similar to classic JRE. Each episode is about an hour and I can't stop listening.

I want to mention that Expanded Perspectives and WBS didn't work out some kind of deal, I REALLY just wanted to give these great guys some exposure and thank them--in my way--for the hours of entertainment. Ironically, when I asked them for permission to use their image, one of the hosts, Cam, said he wanted to mention WBS on an upcoming podcast. SO THEY'RE WBS FANS, TOO. Weird, right? Paranormal? Maybe. Take a listen and let us both know how much you love it.

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