Why Competing is Different from Training

Level of Intensity

When you’re in the gym training jiu jitsu, the intensity level can vary depending on the person you are rolling. Some people roll harder than others, and there are benefits of both rolling easy and hard. Rolling at an easy pace can make you more aware of each individual movement you make. This can help increase technical skills. Rolling at a harder or faster pace can prepare you for the speed of a competition match. Competition rolls will be harder and faster, for the most part, than an average round in the gym. In a competition, no one is trying to “flow”. Everyone wants to win.

Trying New Techniques

I learned this the hard way. In a competition, very few people will try a new move they haven’t executed in training. When you’re in competition, it’s best to stick to what moves you already know and hit regularly. Pulling off cool moves is great, and if you can pull them off without training them first, more power to you. Sometimes it will work out. But, the gym is the best place to try new things. Not a tournament.

Most People Get Nervous

I didn’t think I would get nervous. It was my first tournament. I was a whitebelt and had been training jiu jitsu for less than four months. Leading up to my first match, I did not feel nervous. They called my name and my heart skipped a beat. Oh, now I feel it. I stepped onto the mat and my nerves hit hard. I ended up losing on points 2 to 1. I won the next match 13 to 11. In both matches, had I calmed down, I was in position to win with a submission. Nerves happen to most everyone, it’s normal. But you can’t let that affect your jiu jitsu. Trust in your training and nerves will get better over time. Just don’t be surprised when you feel nervous. It will happen. 

Snap, Tap, or Nap

In training, especially if you are a newer student, people will tell or warn you if an arm or leg is dangerously close to breaking if you still haven’t tapped. In competition, this doesn’t happen as much, especially at higher levels. If you’re rolling in a competition, I’m not gonna stop midway through an armbar or heel hook to inform you of the pain coming your way. Neither is anyone else. So, be prepared to tap out. Even verbally.

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