Competing for your first BJJ tournament? That’s great! At our gym we like to encourage people to try competing in BJJ at least once. That’s why we would like to share these 7 Tips with you.
- Play the game by the rules
Wait what just happened? DQ? But at our club it is normal to do heelhooks with the gi or kneebars when you are a white belt. Well, you are not at your club so don’t be surprised when you get disqualified when you pull off one of the previous mentioned actions. It is a shame that people lose their match because of not knowing the rules. So make sure that you know the rules whenever you are competing. Most of the tournaments will use the rules from the IBJJF. You can find their rulebook here.
- How is your weight?
Most BJJ tournaments will have different weight classes. Just like with the IBJJF tournaments, most tournaments will weigh in with the gi. If you are too heavy you will get disqualified at almost all the BJJ tournaments. You can’t just compete at a higher weight class if you are too heavy. Don’t be too heavy or you will lose your first match before you have even set foot on the mats.
- Sleep well
Competing and BJJ in general can cost a lot of energy. Most of us aren’t doing BJJ fulltime. So you probably will have a busy schedule of work and/or study. Besides that, there is tons of BJJ material to watch and read on the Internet and therefore you can easily lose track of time. Just watching a few more BJJ videos and before you know it’s already 01:15am and your alarm clock is set for 07:00am. On average your body needs about 8 hours of sleep. Getting enough sleep is important for your BJJ performance. Try to get enough sleep one week before the competition. People often think they’re catching up on a sleep-deprived work week with a full night’s rest. Unfortunately it does not. The difference between winning and losing may come from who has slept the most hours.
- Your Mindset
“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was”.
The famous quote by Muhammed Ali. Like many great athletes the mental aspect was a big part of his success. In a BJJ tournament your mindset can determine your performance as well. So have your mind at the right place when you have to step on the mat. For some it helps to listen to some motivational speeches or watch some nice BJJ highlights days before the tournament, while for others it is just about having positive thoughts and visualizing the victory that does the trick.
- Did you pack your bag?
We like to have the following things with us when we go to a competition:
- Gi + belt (obviously), perhaps an extra Gi if you are going to do the open weight.
- Towel + shower stuff
- Food (e.g. bananas, dates, dried fruits, nuts, light meal)
- Bring a lot of drinks (Our favourite drink to bring to a BJJ tournament is Coconut Water. It tastes great and it is good for hydration)
- Sports tape
- Some form of ID (at bigger tournaments like IBJJF, UAEJJF you need to identify yourself)
- Camera – Letting someone film your fight is great to analyse and improve your game.
And don’t wait till the day of the competition with packing your bag, you might forget something…
- Be on time and warm up
Usually you have to check and weigh in one hour to 30 minutes before your first fight. So be ready when your name gets called. Missing out could mean that you will be disqualified. Which you definitely don’t want to happen. Another important thing to do before your first fight is having a proper warm up. Try to come up with a warm up routine that you can use every time when you are competing and that will activate your body. We like to have a combination of jogging, dynamic stretches and some specific BJJ movements and drills.
- Have fun!!
Unless you are a professional athlete who does BJJ for a living, don’t forget that the main goal is to go out there and have fun. Getting the gold medal is a great achievement and feeling. However there can only be one to stand on the top and you shouldn’t feel down (at least not for a long time) and certainly not be discouraged when that person isn’t you. After you let it sunk in, there is nothing really much that you can do to change the result. The only thing that you can (and should) do is show up at the gym again and improve your mistakes, review your gameplan and think about how you are going to do it different the next time. Even one of the greatest BJJ champions of all time Marcus Almeida ‘Buchecha’ didn’t always do very well (hear him talk about his first competitions) and there is this famous quote that you should memorize “There is no losing in Jiu-Jitsu. You either win or you learn.” – Carlos Gracie Jr.