Guest post by James Duscio, a BJJ black belt under Walter cascao vital and runs cascao bjj hard knocks out of Las Vegas nv.
For many people, standing on the podium after a Jiu-Jitsu tournament in front of your family, friends, training partners and coach is one of the most rewarding moments in their BJJ journey. The problem is that for many this moment fails to become a reality and not due to lack of skills or ability, but because of common BJJ habits that need to be modified in a way that resemble training behaviors often developed in wrestling.
First, lets look at some common issues in BJJ that often put the odds of competition success against the practionor. Number 1, they avoid competition for a number of reasons and so when they do compete few and far between, success is often not the result. Number 2, the emotional pressure becomes overwhelming and hinders the athletes performance. Number 3, adrenalin overload floods the body and becomes debilitating. Number 4, lack of training commitment and consistency. Pretty obvious what the side effects of that habit would be. Number 5, lack of training focus. Just going into training and going through the motions usually results in slow progress. And number 6, lack of confidence. Without that, even the best skill set will take a back seat to victory. These are the top half a dozen reasons why so many BJJ practionars fail at competition. Now lets see how one lesson from wrestling can improve our chances.
Number one lesson, wrestlers do not avoid competition, they do not hide from it, they embrace it. Each season they compete dozens of times and usually end their competition years with 100’s of matches under their belt. This gives them the ability to adapt to being in high pressure moments without adrenalin or emotional flooding overwhelming their minds or body. By competing often, they have a commitment to training consistent and with a focus. When you have a competition a week or two away, you don’t skip training, you show up and you work on the skills that you lacked in the last tournament and sharpen the skills that helped you in the past. And with constant competition, you will have some losses and some victories, but with those losses comes lessons to be improved upon and with those victories comes confidence. Remember, we get confidence from actually doing things that once seemed out of reach, not just positive thinking our way into pretending we can do it.
If your goal in BJJ is to compete and have some success, then you have to embrace it like a wrestler, and wrestlers compete often. Most other sports are the same way, basketball, baseball, football, hockey, swimming, etc.. Since with grappling we don’t really receive head trauma and striking damage, there is no reason not to up our competition frequency a bit. A good option to try would be to pick out a three month period where you compete once a month. Also doing both gi and no gi brackets in each tournament will literally double the amount of your matches and experience on the competition mat. You will have far better results then if you spread that same competition number over a 12-15 month period. You would in essence be creating your own wrestling season. Those three months would be filled with no excuses, commitment, hard drilling, laser focus training, and competition adaption mindset. How could you not get on the podium with that game plan. BJJ is my art, but taking a page out of the wrestlers handbook definitely helps.
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