Whether you are thinking about competing for the first time or you have been an active competitor, it’s important to know your why. I think it is a great challenge for anyone to do even if it is only once. I strongly suggest it, yet I also think competition is not necessary if you are training jiu-jitsu. Although there may be fear and hesitation, you want to have a desire to do so at the same time. You want it to be fun and enjoyable. Yes, there is plenty of hard work that goes into it, yet don’t lose sight of the fact of enjoying the prep and game day. I know from experience that stressing yourself and taking the fun away doesn’t help your performance or well-being.
When you are in the gym, you are typically rolling with the same people and occasionally some new ones at open mats. When you compete, it’s a great test of your technique against someone who you have not rolled with in the past. You will be able to better enhance your game even more than you have been when you were only rolling against teammates. With the element of surprise, you can determine how well your game works against someone who doesn’t know it. You may be pleasantly surprised by how different the result can be when it is new to them. I like to assess my skills on an even playing field by competing. Being the smaller partner who often goes against larger opponents, I can lose sight of that fact. It can work the other way around if you are the larger opponent often rolling with smaller ones.
Maybe there are a lot of competitors at your school and you feel inclined to compete. Don’t let what others do be your reason. On the other hand, you may be inspired by the competitors and truly want to do it because you were inspired. Always ask yourself why. If you have very little time to devote to training for a competition and do not have any interest, then it’s a good reason not to compete. If you have fear surrounding the idea of competing, I’d suggest getting out there as soon as possible. I chose to compete very early to get over the fear of the unknown. The more you wait and dwell on the fear, the more time you have for the fear to increase. The pressure that is felt performing in front of others is a learning experience to determine if you can feel the same or close as you feel when rolling in class. Life is all about challenges and growth.
If you are a regular competitor, I think it is important to continually ask yourself why you continue to compete. Check in to evaluate the time and energy that is put into it and how much fulfillment you are receiving and enjoyment of the process. I think a lot of things in life can become habits or be done for reasons other than being fulfilling to yourself and your goals. The best combination is truly enjoying it, having growth by breaking through any fears, and challenging your mental and physical skills.