Do Competition Results Matter?

ACB JJ 8 Results
ACB JJ 8 Results

A lot of jiu-jitsu folk place a ton of importance on competition. We spend weeks, months sometimes, prepping for the next tournament. We sometimes even choose our instructors and academies based on their competition results. Do competition results matter? And if these results matter, on what level and how do they matter?

I personally value competition results because they show whose techniques and training methods are the most effective. I think that instructors who compete will have a better understanding of certain areas of human psychology than those who do not. Those who are able to attain good results in competition have a higher level of understanding of those areas than those who compete and fail.

My instructor has a long history of competing, and has spent a lot of time sharpening his skills as a competitor and as a competition-oriented instructor.

But I can also see how competition results may not be so meaningful.

Competitors’ performances on the competition mat in many cases do not translate to their ability to convey the information that led them to get their good results. I’ve attended many seminars and some of the best instructors I’ve encountered weren’t great competitors. Teaching is a skill in and of itself that requires investment of time and energy. There’s also the human element of being able to communicate with people of different skill levels.

I’ve rolled with and learned from black belts of many different levels, from World Champion level black belts to ones who I could submit as a blue belt. Some of those in the latter group were actually excellent teachers with a ton of distilled knowledge. Just look at Henry Akins and John Danaher, neither have done much insofar as competition but both have garnered tremendous respect as instructors.

I would go as far as to say that knowing what I know now, if I move somewhere new and need to select an academy, I will drop into every place and get a feel for the instructor’s ability to teach, not relying upon their credentials on paper. In my opinion, competition results are solid accolades that indicate an individual’s understanding of how to use grappling knowledge to their benefit, but can have nothing to do with what it takes to be a good instructor or a good human being.

So what do you think? Do competition results matter? What does knowing that someone won a gold medal in a big tournament tell you about them? Does it increase your desire to train with them or have them teach you? And if competition results matter, why do they matter? If they don’t, why do people bother competing in the first place and why are they happy when they win?


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