As if jiu jitsu itself didn’t take you far enough outside of your comfort level, there’s another summit you can reach for and that is on the competition mats. Competing in BJJ is one of the purest tests of not only your knowledge and skill on the mats, but your ability to maintain a strong mindset and achieve one of the most challenging goals we can put in front of ourselves. The truth is that most practitioners do not compete and this is perfectly ok. But for those who want to try their hand at competing, you will find it is one of the most rewarding challenges and goals you can set forth for yourself.
Whether it is your first tournament day or the your fiftieth, many of the same emotions and feelings will get experienced, some negative and some positive. How we deal with this mix of nerves, excitement, and anxiety will go a long way towards helping get us to the top of the podium at our event.
Five time world champion, Bernardo Faria put together a short video where he talks about his own routine and thoughts on how to deal with nerves and other negative emotions on the day of the tournament. Check it out below.
So what are some things that you can do that will help make your competition experience better? By following these simple practices, you can be sure to be more likely to enjoy the day as Bernardo says is the ultimate goal.
Take some time to enjoy the process
For Bernardo, it’s important to realize and embrace the notion that we train jiu jitsu because we enjoy it and want to do it and we should treat competition the same way. By focusing too much on the opponents or matches ahead of us, we can lose sight of enjoying the elements of the day. Make a point of getting plenty of rest and getting up grateful for the opportunity to step on the mats and compete in an activity that you love so much.
Try to stay present as you drive or travel to the venue. Enjoy the walk into the venue and try to take in all of the positive vibes there as you join a group of athletes all looking to express the best performance they can after weeks and months of preparation.
Don’t change your routine
It is important not to do anything that deviates from your basic routine. In Bernardo’s example, he has seen people try new supplements on the day of competition that have been untested and it has caused them stomach issues. By maintaining a consistent routine on the day of the competition, you will minimize any extra anxiety to your mind or body and be more likely to perform how you’ve been training up to that point.
Listen to music
Music can act as a motivator that can help you get pumped up to perform. It can also act as a calming force to keep your mind and body calm. On the most basic level, it gives you something to take your mind off of the task at hand and keep your nerves in check.
Bernardo describes the two voices that everyone carries within them. One is the voice that is pumping us up, telling us we can be victorious and the other is paying attention to our opponents and planting doubt. Both voices exist and will be heard, but it is our job to do what we can to drown out the voice of doubt and feed the voice of victory.
At the end of the day, long after the matches have been finished and the winners have been crowned, regardless of the results, you will find yourself standing as a better grappler than you were when you walked into the competition. You will have spent a number of weeks training harder, studying harder, and on that day you will have done the best you can do against opponents who were there to offer their best in return. The lessons you learn that day will be carried with you throughout your BJJ journey and are priceless. Give it a shot. You have everything to gain.
For more from Bernardo Faria, check out his Foundations of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu which will give you the best solid foundation for your game at any level and give you plenty of new material to work on. Check it out at BJJ Fanatics!