Competing in BJJ can be a pretty nerve wracking experience for even the most seasoned, high-level competitors. For a first-time, white belt competitor the days leading up to a competition can be an emotional roller coaster of self-doubt, anxiety, and nerves mixed with excitement and anticipation. Nobody wants to lose in front of a large crowd of people, especially after working so hard to prepare for the big day. The wonderful thing about competing is that you are overcoming many mental hurdles just to build up the courage to step onto the mats for a real competition. Yes, there will still be nerves and anxiety, but they can be calmed by telling yourself these 6 simple messages leading up to your first competition.
1.This competition doesn’t validate or invalidate my progress: Its just one competition and it is your first competition. Before starting BJJ classes, could you have ever imagined that you would be competing in a real martial arts competition as an adult? Think everything you have already accomplished along your journey from signing up, overcoming the nerves of attending your first class, improving your cardio, making friends, and learning new techniques. All of those accomplishments won’t be invalidated by how you do in your first competition. However, if you win, then everything is validated times ten!
2.You are just getting your feet wet: In professional tennis and golf, there are a series of warm-up events prior to the major grand slam events. These events are there to help the best in the world get ready for the big show. In many cases, the eventual champions of the grand slam events, didn’t win the warm-up events. If it is your first time competing, you are just warming up and getting your feet wet. The mental and physical preparation and actual tournament are all new to you, so there will be a learning curve on what to pack in your gym bag, how to warm up, awkwardly standing next to your opponent for 10 minutes in the bullpen, and the feeling of actually being on the mat. It is your first time out there and you are just getting a feel for it all and working out the kinks.