What If I Don’t Want To Compete?

Then you are not alone! I read recently that less than 20% of the students in most BJJ academies are interested in competing.

I ran an online poll one time asking the question, “Why did you start training BJJ?”

Among the options were self defense, learning a new skill, saw the UFC, get in shape, and so on. And one of the options was “to compete in BJJ tournaments.”

Interestingly, not one, single person selected the compete reason!

Yet the BJJ media are heavily focused on the competitive champions and the covers of all of the BJJ magazines feature the current Mundials winner’s winning techniques.

Furthermore, the way jiu-jitsu is taught is heavily focused on sports jiu-jitsu strategies and techniques. Other aspects of jiu-jitsu such as takedowns, self defense, and dealing with strikes are completely absent from the lessons. Some academies will be completely focused on sports BJJ, and serious competitors will congregate there for the best training.

One of the reasons is that many competitors open academies and teach as a way to earn income, as there is very little money to be made by competing. The active competitors also run the classes the way they want to train themselves.

We are all inspired by the levels of skill and excellence these athletes reach, but one must pause and ask how relevant it is to the average student who puts on a kimono for a few classes per week?

The Ribeiro brothers, Saulo and Xande, share many World BJJ titles between them but have said that jiu-jitsu is more than just sports competition.

Saulo in his excellent book, “Jiu-jitsu University” (I am paraphrasing here) said that it was not essential to compete in jiu-jitsu. He said that many people enjoy running or lifting weights but have no desire to ever compete in a marathon or a power lifting competition. That does not lessen the value that training contributes to their lives.

Some guys join a BJJ academy and want to know when the next competition is before they can perform a proper shrimp across the mat! They LOVE to compete.

For those who just want to enjoy learning a new art, get in better shape, and have fun rolling with friends and training partners, that is perfectly OK too!

Read also: Is Your Jiu-jitsu Universal?


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