The Mental Art of Competition: Part 3 DISTRACTION

Photo by: BJJpix

In a long and drawn out analysis of competition mentality, I would be remiss to forget the topic of distraction. Distraction can come in many forms. Distraction can lose (or in the case of the other guy being distracted, win) a match. Distraction is a key element to truly understanding competition mentality.

For starters, there are some ways to use distraction as a weapon against your opponent. One of my favorite methods during matches is to lull my opponent into a feeling of security and then all at once and at the right moment hit them with a combination of moves that are difficult to defend when combined. I do this by simply moving slowly and gently until the explosive moment. The opponent will be momentarily distracted by seemingly lethargic and non-threatening movements. I’ll go as far as to close the other person up in my guard, reach my arms up above my head and lazily wave my hands at them. This may not be the nicest or most sportsmanlike conduct, but it has in many cases caused enough distraction to allow me to set up a match ending submission.

Another example of distraction happened a while back with the now notorious TLI (Team Lloyd Irvin). One of TLI’s competitors at the time was in a finals match, and his onlooking teammates began a false countdown. This false countdown distracted the opponent enough that the member of TLI was able to score. Again, not the nicest/most sportsmanlike conduct but if it works, it works.

Distraction can work against us. I’ve had several instances in which there was another coach who sounded kind of like mine and was giving another guy advice in another match adjacent to mine. That makes listening to and following instructions get very confusing! (Ironically I’ve lost AND won matches by following another coach’s instructions to his guy in another match).

Competitions are at times overwhelming, if you have become accustomed to training in a relatively quiet environment in which everyone is focused on rolling, chances are it will be a bit of a shock. If you train at an MMA gym where there are a bunch of things going on at once, distractions during a BJJ competition may have less of an affect.

To address distraction make sure you can focus on the match. This can be very difficult, but the less you allow yourself to get distracted the better your chances of victory are. Focus and single-mindedness will ultimately be one of your most potent weapons in competition.



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


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here