Why This Top Black Belt Quit Competing in Jiu-Jitsu

Why This Top Black Belt Quit Competing in Jiu-Jitsu

If you are (or were) a BJJ competitor then this is for you For many competitive athletes just the idea of being able to compete is one of the biggest motivating factors behind playing sports along with the exhilaration of the competitive arena. Even though competitive athletes hate to lose, it is not winning that necessarily drives them but the enjoyment they get out of the challenge competition brings. For many people, competition is fun and a great challenge and can to motivate you to train harder.

The important question is why do we compete? What drives us? If your reasons for competitions are for vanity reasons such as boosting your ego, beating big names just to big yourself up, make a name for yourself by collecting medals, then you probably have the wrong intentions and that will translate in your performance. Even worse, with those motivation factors, the day you lose will be terrible because your intentions are not good and your ego will be hurt.

I was watching a motivational speech by BJJ legend Saulo Ribeiro on bjjlibrary.com the  other day and he asked his students a question during class: “After all those competing and winning everything there is to win in Jiu-Jitsu, why do I still compete at 41 years of age, and I’m all broken?” A few of his students tried to answer “Because you hate to lose?” Wrong, “Because you want to win more medals still?” Wrong! At the end, Saulo’s wife answered right: “Because you love it!” Yes!

There lies the true essence of what should be your reason for competing: Because you love it! You love the whole journey: preparation for the tournament where you’re training hard, everything hurts, you’re improving, you’re doubting yourself, you feel like a machine, you’re cutting weight. It makes you feel ALIVE. Having a goal means that you also start to eat better, you force yourself to sleep more, you’re more focused. When competition day comes, it’s all about reaping the fruit of your labour, going through the nerve wrecking experience of performance, and giving everything you’ve got, transforming yourself to get that win.

Loving the journey and crazy ride of competition means that win or lose, you will always take out the positive out of the experience. One should compete if their intentions are good, and for self development.

Now how about if you’ve been competing and training for a very long time and you are “all broken”?

Most common wear and tear injuries for grapplers

The most common grappling long term injuries affect the shoulder, back, knee and neck.

-Shoulder Injuries
The majority of upper body and shoulder injuries in grapplers are caused by the combination of leverage and twisting during competition: Rotator cuff injury, shoulder separation, shoulder dislocation.

-Knee Injuries
The majority of knee injuries in grapplers occur to the ligaments of the knee joint: anterior and posterior cruciate ligament (ACL/PCL) injuries.
Elbow Dislocation

-Neck and back Injuries
The cervical vertebrae are often forced into vulnerable positions during many grappling moves, which can result in several types of neck and back injuries: herniated discs, neck Strain, whiplash, cervical fracture.

After years of training many older grapplers can develop arthritis. Aches and pains have become an accepted price that is paid for training.

There are exceptions. 

Helvecio Penna and Megaton Dias are in their 50’s and they still compete in the adult black belt division at high level Jiu-Jitsu tournament. Luckily for them, they have spared from debilitating injuries.

Nelson Puentes is a BJJ black belt and owner of BJJ gi brand inverted gear. He has had a very rich competitive experience but decided a few years ago to take a break from competing. That break ended up becoming a 5 year break. In this interesting video, Nelson explains his reasons….