Much has been said about competitions and competing. Who should compete? Is it for everybody? If not, who is it for and who decides that? What about those who actually decide to go through the discipline and adrenaline of taking part in a BJJ competition? Should they do it regularly for life or is a "one and done" perfectly acceptable?
Those are legitimate questions that, at one time or another, every BJJ practitioner will face in their journey. In considering these questions, it does not take long to detect that competition is but a small aspect of Jiu Jitsu. In fact, less than 5% of us label ourselves as "competitors".
If so few of us compete frequently or at all, why would one even bother, then?
The search may be long and the answer, complex. But the reality is that, in doing so, we have a lot to gain and very little to lose. Let's consider what happens when you sign up for a competition:
That's the most obvious one! The moment you sign up for a competition, you immediately feel the need to train more and train better. Suddenly, you find yourself rearranging your schedule and squeezing in a couple of extra sessions of Yoga for BJJ, lifting, and other things that you believe add to your Jiu Jitsu. Somehow, you find ways to take a private class here and there and you even attend competition classes regularly now. That's a win!
After you sign up for a competition, you start thinking about the game plan, tactics, strategy, different techniques, and all of these things. You start listening to more experienced competitors and asking for tips. If you don't already have the habit, you start looking for the wisdom the greats have shared online, their philosophy of war, what they do, how they prepare, and those things also begin to shape you. Most likely you will become automatically aware of so much more in your rolls. You learn to pay attention to the score, the clock, your partner's breathing, and other things surrounding that roll. Those things become acquired skills and tend to stick with you. That's a win!
Diet and healthy habits.
If you're like most mortals, you'll probably feel a few pounds over, and whether you choose to compete in the division below or not, you know you can do a better job with your food intake. Maybe you intentionally eat to lose weight or maybe you just eat better. You start indulging a little less frequently, you keep your self hidrated all the time, you sleep on time, skip the late night parties because, after all, there's class in the morning. This is called "Healthy living", and it is a win!
Maybe one of the greatest benefits of competing in Jiu Jitsu is the character growth the journey forges in you. Paying attention to all the things aforementioned is tiring and definitely takes lots of discipline. Challenging yourself like this will give you the opportunity to exercise that discipline daily and, like anything else in life, when you practice it, you improve it.
Preparing for a competition and actually competing will give you more self knowledge than most things you experience in this life. What a journey that is. Psychological and emotional growth are huge Ws.
The joy of winning is a unique and almost indescribable emotion. In one sense you have to experience it, to actually know it. Winning is awesome, but what if the medal didn't come? Did I waste my time? Not if these things are true! Joy is definitely one of our favorite wins.
People are different, and will experience these things in different degrees, but without a doubt the preparation and the participation in a competition will change you for the better, in ways you maybe didn't even imagine. Competing will make you face your fears and overcome them as well. These changes, knowledge, and experience can be with you forever, no matter what.
Competition: The only way to lose, is not fighting.