We’ll start off this post by saying that BJJ competitions aren’t for everyone, and there’s no shame in practicing the art for the sake of the art. Simply training with your school’s partners is a testament unto itself, and most schools provide a rigorous gauntlet of opponents that keep your skills honed. However, there are some definitive benefits to competing. Today we’ll touch on a few of them.
Forming a Strategy
When you first compete, you probably don’t even think all that much about strategy. If you do, it’s probably only to the extent of taking the fight to where you’re most comfortable, which can be something as simple as pulling guard before your opponent does. But after that first battle, you realize the importance of having a calculated game plan. And that game plan becomes more complex the higher your rank, and the more you compete. Jiu Jitsu is often compared to chess for a reason, and competing takes your game to a higher cerebral level.
Escaping the Familiarity
Whether you’re conscious of it or not, you know many of your training partner’s bread-and-butter techniques, and they know yours. Once you’ve caught them with a sweep or submission, they become wiser to your game, and your level of success executing a technique—even if you’re doing it correctly—may vary. Typically when you’re competing, your opponent is alien to you and your game, and vice versa. It’s the perfect time to employ your A game, and see how it stacks up in a mano doesn’t know mano scenario.
Defending Yourself Effectively
When looking at your martial art as a pure self-defense method, competing allows you to experience true stress and intensity. Competing allows you to manage a variety of elements that you’ll have to contend with in a true-life altercation. Managing the anxiety of battling an unknown assailant, discovering the degree of your cardiovascular fitness, and enduring the accompanying adrenaline dump are all aspects that competitions force you to deal with head-on.
There are realities to competitions, especially for the BJJ neophyte. You can get injured due to an increased level of intensity. Your first time out can be overwhelming for a variety of reasons, ranging from dealing with your emotions to listening to your coach shout out instructions to dealing with success and failure. However, there’s no doubt competing has an overall positive effect. Competitions allow you to plug up gaping holes in your game, and will lead to greater confidence in your ability to defend yourself efficiently.