3 Things To Focus On Before A Tournament

For students preparing to enter their first BJJ tournament, there is a lot of different and sometimes contradictory mindsets.

Some guys are dead serious and anything less than a gold medal is a disappointment.

“Go hard or go.home!”

Others adopt a playful mindset and say, “I’m just going for the experience” and look to test their skills. Depends on your reasons for wanting to compete.

Whether you are a first time competitor or steely eyed veteran of many mat showdowns, there are certain things you need to be prepared for when entering a competition.

1) Be prepared physically.

Due to a combination of nerves, adrenaline squirts, and the heightened intensity that both you and your opponent will bring, you will burn through your gas tank faster than a gambler at the tables in Vegas.

At least one month before the tournament you should increase the intensity of your outside conditioning. Running and grappling centered, bodyweight calisthenics are the most sports specific ways to prepare the body for the demands of the match. Of course, high intensity rounds in the academy will also build your endurance.

My first jiu-jitsu coach would lead grueling warm-ups of push ups, burpees, and squats for weeks before a tournament. He explained the tough conditioning sessions: “I don’t want to see any of the students getting tired in the matches!”

2)  Stand up

If you never think about training stand-up grappling until the week before the tournament, you are risking being exposed in the stand-up start of the match.

It is an all too familiar refrain immediately after a tournament: “Man, I got so tired in the stand-up!  I didn’t know what to do and my grips got fried!”

You might be in great physical condition, but if you are not comfortable in the stand-up portion of the match, you will tense up and your gas tank will rapidly empty. For this reason—even if you aren’t executing Ben Askren like takedowns—you need to spend time starting some training matches from the stand-up position.

A little understanding of grip fighting and a few basic takedowns will give you that 20 percent effectiveness in the 80/20 rule.

3) Pass the guard and defend the guard

It seems the majority of matches between competitors that are evenly matched come down to this battle.

Can you pass your opponent’s guard without getting submitted or swept? Is your opponent able to keep their posture and base to nullify your guard attacks and pass for the three points?

A significant part of your rolling before a tournament should be positional training in passing and defending guard. Driill those favorite passes — on both sides!—to the point where they are smooth, tight, and you can perform them when you are fatigued.

What do you focus on in preparing for a tournament?


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