Wednesday, January 6, 2010
WHY COMPETE? by Kenny Bond
One of the many great things about our sport is we all have the opportunity to compete against competitors of similar weight and skill level. These days, there are competitions almost every weekend within driving distance. This was certainly not the case when I started back in the mid nineties. Back then, there were maybe 4 competitions a year.
The BJJ/ Submission tournaments vary widely in their rules and there prestige. There are local tourneys that are held in academies. And there are your international competitions where world champs are crowned. There are tournaments with gi, no-gi, time limits, no time limits, submission only, novice only, etc. What’s nice about this variety is that you could get your competition feet wet in a small, less intimidating stage before stepping up the bigger tournaments.
Now even though, the venue may be small. The competition is rarely easy. Everyone is nervous, everyone wants to win, and no one wants to lose (especially in front of friends, family, and teammates). But that’s part of what is so great about competing.
Now that brings us to the original question…why compete? What’s in it for me?
Your jiu jitsu will get better. Yes its true. When you choose a competition to enter, you are putting pressure on yourself to up your game. You will train harder leading up to the competition. Your cardio will improve. And no matter the outcome, you will come away with a better overall jiu jitsu game. Guaranteed.
You will develop a real bond with your teammates. There’s something very gratifying about going to a competition with your teammates and supporting each other through wins and losses. You sit around and wait together, coach each other, share food, water, and just enjoy the camaraderie.
You get a real evaluation of your game. There’s nothing better than competition to shine a light on the holes in your jiu jitsu. Don’t have a good closed guard pass? Well sitting in an opponents closed guard while he rides out 2 points can really suck. It can suck so bad that you will go back to your school and make sure you have a ‘bread and butter’ pass from closed guard. I know this from experience. Sometimes, we get so comfy in our own academy, with our same training partners. We need something like a competition to shake us up and motivate us to improve.
Losing is awful. But that’s a good thing. Why? Because I believe we learn more from our losses than our wins. There are mistakes that I made in matches when I was a blue belt that I still replay in my head and mistakes I will never make again. You will also learn to lose with dignity and sportsmanship. You will also watch others lose and learn their mistakes as well.
You will develop your signature style. When I used to compete as a white/blue belt, I had no style. I would win and lose, but usually through hard won wars. As I got to purple and higher, I had a specific way to win each time. I would shake hands, pull guard, sweep with omoplata, and then try to pass/ submit from top. Of course it didn’t always go like that, but at least I had a template that I could replicate and refine. Some guys will pull half guard and sweep, some guys would single leg and pass, but most successful players have a ‘go to’ plan that they have refined over the course of years. Competitions will force you to develop your style, which will make the tourneys more fun. I really turned the corner in my competitions when instead of just trying to win, I was trying to pull off my moves. I couldn’t wait to get my opponents in my omoplata. Having my style took some of the stress off competing and definitely added some fun.
So hopefully I’ve provided some motivation for you matrats to get out there and mix it up on the local tournament scene. You may not impress your friends or family that do triathlons (read strong sarcasm), but you will gain the respect of your jiu jitsu brethren and your game will be better off for it.
See you on the mat.