Competing in a BJJ tournament is one of the best experiences for any student looking to expand their skill in the sport of Jiu Jitsu.
It’s a new horizon to unravel for those who are beginners but even for a seasoned fighter, thinking about competing can be stressful. If you’re new to the Jiu Jitsu world or not, here are some helpful tips for anyone looking to prepare their training game plan.
CONSISTENCY IS KEY
Diligent Jiu Jitsu training at your gym is important if you want to perform to your fullest potential. At a minimum, you’ll want to start preparing for your tournament one month in advance (for local tournaments). For any major tournaments (IBJFF World’s, Pan Americans, European’s, Abu Dubai Pro, etc.) a minimum of 2 months of hard training is needed. Now is not the time to be shrugging off a day or four of Jiu Jitsu training. Ideally, you’ll want to be training as much as possible, within your limits of course. Don’t over push yourself and always listen to your body to rest accordingly.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR DIET
Diet is important for any physical activity and with Jiu Jitsu, it’s no different. Your diet should consist of clean food to help fuel and nourish your body after hard training. If you are cutting weight, a healthy diet will make the process of cutting weight much easier if you plan accordingly. You don’t want to start cutting weight a few days before the tournament. Start a meal plan that will help you stay on track with your diet 2-3 weeks in advance. Foods to avoid completely are fried, processed or fatty food, which will cause conditioning problems. Drink plenty of water and eat light, nutritious food.
RELAX YOUR ANXIETY
To help when the anxiety kicks in, think positively at all times. Negative thoughts will only get in way of your goals. Start visualizing how you want to compete and perform the day of the tournament. Some people stretch, practice their deep breathing techniques or listen to their favorite music to help control anxiety. Do whatever you need to do to stay calm and keep your mind off of the uncontrollable. Remember your competition will also have anxiety and if you minimize those feelings you will perform much better the day of competition.
Last but not least, make sure that you plan out your entire day of the tournament from when you wake up in the morning to the moment right before you step on the mats. Some examples you’ll want to consider is what time you get up, the snacks you eat while you wait to compete (sometimes your match won’t be called for hours), your warm-up routine, etc. Take a break a day or two before the tournament and give yourself time to recover. Read the rules and uniform requirements needed to compete when you sign up. You don’t want to get disqualified from the match so understanding the rules is absolutely necessary.
For new competitors, remember that Jiu Jitsu is not a sprint but a marathon. You will not win every competition but you will always learn something about yourself. Don’t go to the competition with a mindset to PROVE anything but to IMPROVE yourself and your Jiu Jitsu. Remind yourself that you compete to have fun and that winning tournaments is not what defines you.
Information provided by Joey Medina (competitor, AZBJFF referee, Damri BJJ Instructor)