BJJ: Competition Readiness

Competition is not for everyone, but there is something to be said for the benefits of it. One word I always hear tossed around when discussing competition is “Ready”. I hear instructors telling their students that they are or are not ready for competition. I hear people assessing their own readiness. What is a good gauge of whether or not you’re ready for competition?

For starters: no one is EVER “ready” to compete.   That’s not how this works. Even a black belt world champ has some sort of jitters before their matches, even if they are very slight and unnoticeable. However, every time we compete we become slightly more confident in what we are able to do, and every time we win, our confidence is bolstered further.

The first time I competed, I was still a fairly fresh white belt. I had only been training for about 4 months and one of my teammates sent me a Facebook message asking me if I wanted to compete the next day. There was a small local competition. I was nervous and uncertain but I accepted the invitation. The next morning I drove to a town about 45 minutes away and we competed at a small MMA gym’s in house grappling tournament. I took home two silver medals.

I wasn’t ready.

The reason I wasn’t ready was that I had not yet competed. I still am not ready, but I am more ready than I was then. Readiness is a subjective term that implies a state of mental and physical preparedness. A super aggressive first timer may be more ready for competition than an old timer with terrible jitters. Readiness is a direct product of trusting oneself one’s techniques.

At its core BJJ is intended to be a self defense system (whether or not it is is a different conversation for a different article.) Are we ever ready to be assaulted and need to defend ourselves? Many of the very same physiological and psychological things happen right before a match as happen when we are placed in a self defense situation. The more we compete, the more prepared we become.

Don’t wait till you’re ready.

If you wait until you are ready you may never take that step into competition. Compete locally at first alongside your coaches and teammates. Those local competitions will begin to prepare you. But you’ll never be really READY. If you are interested in competition, compete a lot. If you are not interested in competition, compete just a bit so that you experience what un-readiness feels like, it’ll teach you a lot about yourself.




Emil Fischer is an active blue belt competitor under Pablo Angel Castro III training with Strong Style Brasa and is sponsored by Pony Club Grappling Gear and Cruz Combat. For more information, other articles, and competition videos check out his athlete pages at and


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