Tips For Your First Jiu Jitsu Competition

Competitions are an amazing way to put what you’ve been learning into action, it can be tons of fun, rewarding…… and also make you a nervous wreck. Especially the first time.  Here are some tips to help you be ready to rock at competition.

1.  RELAX.

I can’t stress (no pun intended) this enough. It’s also one of the hardest thing to do. Especially the first time. You are standing on the mats and the person standing across from you is mean-mugging you while their friends and family are cheering and screaming á la Cobra Kai “PUT HIM IN A BODY BAAAAG!” …..well….maybe not that last part, but, I know my first competition I was a nervous wreck.  I was watching the matches before mine and thinking, “They look like they are trying to KILL each other… what was I thinking?!?”  Everyone is different so the way that I reacted to the pressure might not be the way you react, and that’s okay too, you just need to find your own personal zen.

Some people crank up the tunes before a match to chill out a bit, some people chat up their friends and family, and some people meditate, visualizing the match ahead of time every move, every step.  For me, I try to go into it looking at it like just another day on the mats training. Don’t get me wrong, I still get nervous, but as soon as I bump fists with my opponent a switch flips in my head and I am in the Jiu Jitsu zone, just like class, in my personal zen.

Just try to remember the person across from you might look cool and collected….or mean and rabid… but they are most likely just as nervous as you are… or even more! No joke.  And if you try to relax and go with it, you’ll have a better chance of hearing your coach in your corner telling you to hit that sweep or go for that sub! Not to mention…you might even have fun!

2. HYDRATE. HYDRATE. HYDRATE.

ESPECIALLY if you are cutting weight. And DOUBLE especially if it’s the first time you are cutting weight.  As a woman, I don’t need to worry about cutting weight as much. (There isn’t always a wide variety of weight classes for us ladies) But you want to be the best version of you possible, and that means fending off dehydration cramps mid match and being healthy!

3. K.I.S.S.

Keep. It. Simple. Stupid. Stick to what you know and have at least a rough idea of a game plan. Your first competition (or any competition for that matter) is NOT the time to try some flashy new move you found on youtube.  You’re best bet is to spend some time leading up to the competition drilling what you know the best and working on any trouble spots you’ve identified.  Your match will most likely not be predictable and you should keep an open mind to go with whatever is thrown your way. Don’t go crazy over analyzing ahead of time….otherwise you can’t RELAX!

4. “There is no losing in Jiu Jitsu. You only win or you learn.” – Carlos Gracie Jr.

Don’t fret about the outcome of the match.  You will either be successful and maybe take home some hardware, or you will learn some valuable lessons you can take back home to the mats and work on.  Competing is the best way to see the holes in your game. I personally get more value out of losing in a tough match, than the medal around my neck when I win.

You’ll be nervous. You’ll be going through adrenaline rushes and crashes and it will show you just what you need to work on! The next time you come back, you’ll be a better version of you! And that’s pretty awesome.

 5. Lastly, Have FUN.

Don’t forget that you are there to do the thing you love! Jiu Jitsu! Cheer on your teammates, make some new friends, and feel the energy all around you!  Competitions can be a super fun and rewarding experience if you let it.  Seriously, go out there and have a ball.  Don’t stress about winning or hitting a specific move, just go out there and be you.