5 Things You Realize After Competing in BJJ For the First Time

Last weekend, I was able to convince fifteen people from my academy to compete in a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament for the first time. While my main sales pitch included selling points like “it will be fun” and “you can tell people you competed in a martial arts tournament,” my ulterior motives were more selfish than selfless. In reality, I just didn’t want to compete alone. Thankfully, all of the first-time competitors had a great time competing and over half of them reached the podium. Regardless of the outcome of their matches, it was amazing to see how big their smiles were and how alive they looked after they competed.

Here are 5 things you realize when you compete for the first time.

Wow, you will never feel so alive: We are all chasing the dragon of our first ever roll where we likely got smashed, but never felt so alive. When you compete for the first time, win of lose, it is just like catching the dragon of life where your blood is pumping, the stakes are higher, and you are going on a crazy roller coaster ride for the first time in your life. Regardless of the outcome, you will likely feel a great rush and high that you rarely feel in a life bogged down by work, family, school and traffic.

Its a lot hard than rolling in class: Even if you are in the rooster weight division, your opponents’ grips will feel like a vice lock and you will feel like you are grappling with Marcelo Garcia in a life and death struggle. When you roll in class, it is still intense, but toned down since it is just training and practice time with your friends with very little on the line. Once there is a medal and a crowd of spectators involved, everything gets dialed up a notch, including the intensity and heart rate.

Winning is great, but so are are the lessons and experience gained: There can only be one gold medal awarded in each division. Everybody else leaves the venue with at least one blemish on their record. The experience of losing is both humbling and educational. By recording your matches, you can go back and see where you went wrong and learn where the holes are in your game and how you can grow from the experience. Chances are, you will learn and never make the same mistake again!

Friends and training partners will support you regardless of outcome: Your friends, training partners, and coaches will congratulate and support you regardless of the outcome of your performance. If they don’t, then you are likely training at the wrong academy and the wrong people. Your training partners will appreciate your efforts since they have seen the work and discipline you showed on the mats leading up to your competition.

You can do so much more in BJJ and life!: Joe Rogan once stated that “martial arts are a vehicle for developing your human potential.” If you can step onto the mats at an organized competition against other trained competitors in front of hundreds of spectators, you have already taken a step in life that most people wouldn’t dare to take. If you can overcome the fear, anxiety, and risks of competing, then you can likely overcome other fears and obstacles in your life as well. Use your experience of competing in BJJ as a springboard for setting and reaching other goals in life!


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