Must you compete?

I find myself progressing at a slow pace based on how often I train, but I do progress and at times I have the opportunity to help others who are a lower rank than me. I love helping people and am a HS science teacher by profession. Some day I would love to teach/coach BJJ when I get to a realistic level to do so (like purple/brown belt).

Honestly, I love BJJ but my life is a whirlwind of work and now there is a baby on the way. I've only competed once in a tournament over a year ago, didn't do so well. Not planning on competing again soon, maybe a year from now.

I suppose my real question here is: am I holding myself back by not competing? Would I be an effective coach and teacher if I don't compete? If I am not a good competitor will it hurt me later (as far as reputation and the ability to really get deep into the game enough to teach on a high level)? I'm 35 now and I know that being a tournament terror is probably not on the plate. What say you?

IMO competing, regardless of the outcome, always teaches us how to be better martial artists.

I think competing is great for developement, but not necessary.

not a necessity at all. Hell, most black belts from brazil don't even compete, but they give the guys who do a serious run for their money all the damn time (told to me by black belts from brazil who DO compete on a regular basis). As long as you are rolling on the mat with everybody, that is what matters.

Think of it this way, how many guys win in tourneys by submission? not alot, heck you can watch alot of tourneys and all they do is trip/takedown a guy down, hold sidemount and stall out to "win". Not really showing off jiujitsu finishing skills at all. So no, you don't need to compete to become better. It CAN help, but its not a necessity.

You've got to compete.


It depends on what you want from your training but I compete every chance I get and I dont think I would be progressing as well as I am if I wasnt. When I compete I find faults in my game become obvious and this motivates me to keep training and working on my game.

Up till yesterday I had lost 10 BJJ matches and 2 kickboxing fights since october last year (no wins). Yesterday I came second in my Gi division and won my no Gi division. I honestly believe that all those lossess are what motivated me to keep training hard and to work on the weaker parts of my game (which there still are plenty).

I say compete as it will always have you working towards a goal and you'll find out plenty about yourself along the way.

of course you dont need to compete. if you arent into competition dont compete, you can still get good at jiu jitsu. like saulo said "if you dont care about win, dont go. cause you dont fight just to fight, you fight for win. if you dont want win stay home."

You already identified that you love BJJ and that alone may be enough reason to train. But, if you specifiy your goals in more detail that you want to accomplish with BJJ it may help you more.

Not everyone wants to compete and that doesn't mean you like BJJ any less than others.

Some train for fitness, to learn self-defense, and other reasons not related to competition.

I'm in the same boat as you...older, family and/or work responsibilities, etc. Heck, I wish I could train 4-5 days a week, but I can't.

My two cents here, maybe you can relate to...

I too have no desire to compete but I love training in JJ. However, I train in BJJ for self defense and also for my job where I put my JJ skills to the test on almost a weekly basis where often someone tries to attack me or others who I help out defending.

I have had well over 125 physical encounters where I used JJ to subdue someone. I think these encounters test my skills WAY more than a competition could ever do. So, I'm content in the "testing my skills" area.

I felt the same way you did when a lot of others in my academy were competing and I just didn't feel the pull to do so.

I got over it though. I love being on the mat and that's what counts.

Thanks for your posts so far everyone. CXX31, I train just because I love it, I suppose there's no other way to describe it. I love all of the side benefits, like fitness, ability to defend myself, etc, but there's just a passion that I have for it. That's one of the reasons why I would love to teach it some day, to share that passion!

win or losing isn't a big deal it's just about going out there are doing your best and having a good time and making new friends and testing yourself against new people who you don't train with.

you'll learn more in one day about your cardio & skill than you will in a month at your club.

Have to compete in order to be a good insructor. A good instructor has to have knowledge in competition level. The experience is important because the feeling of competing, either winning or losing, is taking the game to the next level. Rather than just training in class and teaching what you know without putting your skills to the test. One will never know if it really works.

I agree with sideguardjj; I think you have to compete if you really want to be able to teach and train competitors. You don't have to have been a Mundial champ, but you at least need to have personal experience in the competitive arena in order to be able to effectively prepare them for what it will be like - especially the mental side of it.

You can only truly teach what you have personally experienced - otherwise it's just theory without understanding.

So, I agree with Jeff and sideguardjj - If you plan on being a teacher to people who ARE going to compete, then you need to have quite a few competition experiences from which to draw upon, in your own background.

I used to think guys needed to actually play football in order to coach the game. But, several pro and college coaches have won championships now without ever strapping on a helmet.

Look at boxing. Many champion competitors couldn't coach to save their life. Many coaches of champions couldn't compete to save their life.

Competition is an aspect of the art that seems to add it's own stresses and challenges. But, I think you can become an excellent teacher of BJJ without competing personally.

If it bothers you, get in some tourneys and set your goal on participation instead of competition. Just use it as a learning experience.

To add to what I wrote earlier - I don't think you need to be a CHAMPION competitor, by any means........

But having the experience of getting out there and putting it on the line will reap huge rewards when it comes to coaching your students who are competing.

In my experience, many champions make lousy coaches - and many great coaches are lousy competitors, in ANY sport. 

Football is a bad comparison, because there are so many different positions, and most teams have multiple coaches to address the various skills.  The head coach simply puts the strategies (i.e. the plays) together........ he doesn't have to have ever played every position.

In boxing, I doubt you'll find ANY coaches who never stepped inside the ring.  They may not have been champions, but they understand FROM EXPERIENCE what it's like to go in there and test yourself.  I think that is try of ALL of the combative sports.  Boxing, Wrestling, Judo, BJJ, MMA........ all the great coaches - regardless of how well they actually did - have actual experience in competition.

Idaho State Legend Milton :: Longtime Athletic Director, Track and ...
Although he was perhaps the most successful intercollegiate boxing coach ever, ... intercollegiate boxing championships although he himself never boxed. ...

Head football coaches work their way up as position coaches.