The Mental Art of Competition: Part 5 RELAXATION

Anytime we compete, we are exposed to substantially more stress than we are used to.  One of the weapons we can add to our mental armory is relaxation.  If we are able to relax during tournaments and even more importantly during our matches we become able to overcome far stiffer competition than otherwise.


Perhaps the easiest thing one can do to attain a deeper level of relaxation is to moderate their breath patterns.  There are different breathing exercises available, some as difficult as Rickson’s breath/abdominal muscle control exercises and others as simple as breathing in for 4 seconds, holding for 7 and exhaling for 8 seconds.  If you are able to control your breathing you will be able to physically calm yourself, which will make mentally calming yourself easier.

One thing that I constantly try to do at tournaments is avoid thinking about competing.  This is not easy as we are surrounded by competition at tournaments.  If there is a warm-up area, I like to try to get one of my teammates to flow roll with me; this takes my mind off of what’s going on around me while at the same time allowing me to warm up just a bit.

I like to meet old friends at tournaments and catch up with them.  There are people I’ve trained with in the past who come to tournaments either to compete or just to watch and I’ve found that just seeing familiar faces and talking to them helps take my mind off the stress of competing.

Then it’s go time…

When I am mat side waiting for my match, I try to avoid inducing any sort of adrenaline rush.  I’ve just come to bake cookies, I’m not here for jiu jitsu, just baking cookies… and if anyone tries to stop me, well I’ll have to remove one of their limbs (or at least make an effort to do so.)  This is not a joke, this is actually how I mentally psych myself down before matches, and the better I do this the better I do.  By doing this I have been able to at times successfully compete against people of much higher caliber than me.  I detach myself emotionally, and go out there completely relaxed.

The techniques we need to win matches are present in our minds and our muscles.  If we are ready to compete, we do ourselves a far greater service by relaxing before matches and allowing those techniques to present themselves.

What ways do you like to relax before matches?  What do you find to be the best method to keep calm and not expend energy?



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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