Good competitor without competing?

Here is my doubt. I have been training during one year and a half more or less. Its time for the competitions and everybody is happy about it. But i am not feeling i am a good competitor, because i dont have a powered mind. I am a bit afraid and i dont know the reason :-). Eventhough everybody talks to me that its the time to compete because in a short period of time i will be graduated on a new belt division.

Anyway, here is the question. Its posible to be a good fighter without going to tournaments? i mean, there are people that says that if you compete, your level goes high. And if you dont go, you improve slowly.

What do you think about?

Thanks :-)

I think competing certainly does cause you one to improve in BJJ:

Your training is much more focused and you get more interested in improving weaknesses and developing a game plan.
You also put a lot more energy into ju jitsu as part of your life (through time, energy, conditioning etc) and I think that makes you better as well.

Losing a fight of course is a very good opportunity to reassess your game and patch up where things went wrong.

I would say that in my experience at most of the competitions everybody is very encouraging and usually there is a lot of good feeling between competitors, especially after the fight. Generally people will applaud the fact you got on the mat and gave it a bash.
There are a very small number of people who do talk crap and insist on the whole alpha one male bollocks: needless to say that doesn't really make the whole experience very inviting, but you really don't see much of that.

Of course there are loads of people who aren't confrontational in nature and don't really like the idea of competition and that is OK (despite what some steroided jock might tell you) The world needs those sorts of people as well (who wants to deal with a confronational marriage counceller, waiter, hostage negotiator or taxi driver?)

If you enjoy BJJ a lot at your own pace at a club level its probably much more healthy than if you were miserable on the competition circuit.

Pressure situations show what you are made of.

Every competitor knows fear, anxiety, and feels the stress of competition. You are not a unique little snowflake.

If you cannot deal with this kind of pressure than don't compete. But don't delude yourself into believing that you will magically perform your jiu jitsu in other stressfull when you are attacked. I am not trying to make a direct comparison - but competition is the closest thing we have to real fights. They can simulate the adreneline rush.

Once you have competed a lot you lose much of the fear and anxiety you have about competition and fighting. Becuase to me fear is the dread as the competition looms closer. The weeks beforehand as I prepare daily for the same guy I have fought twice before. Wondering about getting injured. Hoping I am fully prepared. Continual and daily stress until the day of the competition where I can sit for hours scanning the crowds looking for people in my division. Anxiety and the hunger of wanting to finally get out there and compete so it will be over.

Literally hundreds of matches later I am not phased by 'what if' scenarios. I don't really give much thought to 'what if' I was jumped, or what would I do if such-and-such happens. A lot of people ask me, aren't you scared if you get in a fight? I say no. A fight happens so quickly and is over so fast I really don't have much time to think about it. Compare that to the months and weeks of anxiety that culminate in hundreds of dollars in airfare/hotel and hours of preparation hoping to God you are not tapped out 30 seconds into your first match. I think I would rather be punched a couple of times and call it a day~!

There are some people who are wizards on the mat at thier school. You take them out of thier comfort zone and they freeze. This is NOT a good indication that you will do anything different if you REALLY have to use your jiu jitsu. If you want to get better you have to expand your horizons and continually test yourself. Competition is an excellent format to do that with relative safety.

I would say its the training that leads to the competition. If you train hard, you will see results of your hard work after the or lose. You can be a good fighter w/o competing, but you can be an even better fighter if you compete. Just my 2cents.

Bill Jones,

That is the greatest post I have ever seen on this forum. Wow. You described my thoughts exactly. Nice job!!!

LOL at non-confrontational taxi drivers. Where the hell do you live?

I know some very good BJJ practitioners who can totally kick my arse and have never competed.

I have competed, I really enjoyed it and will compete again at any opportunity however I can understand why some people don't like it.

I feel that the competitions that I have done have been good motivators, they have certainly improved my confidence however I do not feel that my game jumped to a different level with each comp.

It is also worth noting that I have been in situations of rolling far harder in training than anything that I have felt in comps so as long as you have good sparring partners don't worry that you will be fighting nutters. Normally the other guy is as scared or more so than you.

and some advice for this kind of people that has never competed and are a bit afraid? thanks.

Bill Jones is absolutely CORRECT! No two ways about it
He summed up what anyone who has competed more than 10
times would say.

bandwidth the only way to cure it is to get in there &
give it a try. Do what I did. I was sick of the nerves
& the jitters becuz all I wanted was to improve and it
outwieghed my fear of getting embarrassed infront of many strangers as well as my teammates. So yeah I went
through the lose, lose, lose then all of sudden I was
able to get in their and play and then I forgot what I
was so afraid of in the first place and started to do

Another point is that after a while you will start to
see the same people all the time.

Competition give you the ability to step it up when it
comes to crunch time. Something that I personally dont
think you can get in training. It can be simulated if
you are sparring someone who is of equal skill but it
still not the same as in competion.

wow.. that's a great post Bill!

Good post Bill Jones.

IMO KamiazeGrappler answered the question the best though.
"You can be a good fighter w/o competing, but you can be an even better fighter if you compete."

TTT for a great thread

lol :cockneyblue: I would rather like non confrontational cabbies: thats not to say I see many!

If you are afraid to compete but want to...

Most of it is as slow joe says: just taking the plunge. Facing your fear in any domain always feels pretty good, even if you don't walk away with a medal.

Another way to look at it might be to just read about all the good experiences people talk about from competing...we wouldn't do it so often if it wasn't enjoyable and we didn't get something out of it.

Another thing to remember is that being nervous isnt always a bad thing. It can make you sharper and more focused.

For ex: In one of my last tournaments I went into the finals and I looked over to my opponent and he looked like he was about to cry..I thought 'Yeah' I gave my teammates a thumbs up & thought 'no problem'.

I went into the match the guy pulled guard and swept me so hard I landed on my head and almost got knocked out! I tried to recover guard and before I knew where I was I was fighting out of a triangle that went into a sweet armbar. I got tapped out in like under a min. So as you can see being too relaxed can be bad too. Give it a try in the end you'll only be better for it.

Always remember what Mr. Miyagi told Daniel: Its okay to lose to a better opponent but dont lose to fear..or
something along those lines.

Every time I see some great grappler's resume', I notice all these prestigious wins listed. They never have to mention the tournament losses. I wonder sometimes about how many comps the guy has done in order to attain or even prepare for those wins. I bet some of those guys from Brazil were in comps every week for years(both winning and losing) to get some of those records.

So, don't think of the competition as your one big chance. It's just another step in your journey to your overall progress in BJJ.

"Taking the step is often more important than where the step takes you." gaittec 2006 (you can feel free to use that). ;)


I think you have wrotte what i didnt know about me. I think that my fears about going to my firts competitions are, unconsciously, they will be my last or one big chance.

I think i will meditate your words.



How can you be a great competitor without competing? You can be great at the art without competing, but to be a competitor you have to compete. LOL just hasslin you guys, I know what you mean.

I sometimes wonder why people dont compete at least some. I know some very good guys that would do well, but will not compete. just dont care. I try to compete even though I am very average and not a great competitor. For some reason, when I compete my focus gets better when I get back to training. I wish it wasn't so expensive and unorganized out there, as I believe it keeps our sport from growing.

Most likely not. Just as people say great competitors don't always make great teachers.

wacqdog, having just moved from London to Mexico, I am yet to meet a non-confrontational taxi driver.

My advice to anyone thinking of competing but not sure is. Try it once, you won't die. Then you'll know whether it's for you or not. Better than looking back in 20 yrs and wondering.

I competed as a white belt at the first opportunity, after only a couple of months training, on the basis that I wanted to get the fear out of the way whilst I was totally crap. No pressure that way. I lost but didn't tap and was really proud of myself.

but really competitions are not 'pressure situations'. Some of you guys are saying just compete for the experience of it. well, where is the pressure there? The pressure is in your mind. The idea that competitions get you close to a street situation is weak at best. There are so many rules and restrictions that there is hardly any danger of getting hurt.

Look, I have guys come into my club all the time. These are strong military types who go balls out during training. The risk of getting injured by them is far greater than if I go to a place where everyones 'game' is nuanced and polished.

I had a guy come in last week 220 judo bb with a national title under his belt. He was a very intense strong marine type. We trained he could not handle me. I am 145 . That was a pressure situation. That guy was out for a tap. He was looking for blood. He got none.

Just dont get the idea that bjj competitions show what you are made of. People get hyped up under the pressure of danger in different ways. There is no danger at a bjj competition.