BJJ is an amazing sport which is filled with many dedicated practitioners who are looking to become experts and champions in the art. BJJ is also filled with hobbyists who love the camaraderie, the fun way to get in shape and the ability to learn a new skill which can come in handy in a self defence situation.
The great thing about BJJ is no matter your goal or ability there is a suitable competition to match your needs. If you are a young stud with dreams of becoming a professional you can compete in the World Championships against eagerly hungry opponents. On the other hand if you are a hobbyist older practitioner you can compete against other hobbyists of similar age and ability in local competitions.
Now just because you can compete in BJJ does not mean you should or have to. In this article we will breakdown the benefits of BJJ competition and help you decide if it is right for you.
Should you compete in BJJ?
You should compete in BJJ if you enjoy competition, you want to take on a new challenge, you are looking to speed up your improvement trajectory or you have goals of becoming a champion or professional BJJ athlete.
While competing in BJJ can be a great experience it is not for everyone. If you just enjoy training and have no desire to compete then that is absolutely fine. Many BJJ athletes have earned their black belt and become masters in the art without ever entering a competition.
John Danaher is a famous example of a BJJ expert who never entered a competition. I don’t think any BJJ practitioners would question his ability, knowledge and contribution to the martial art.
However, if you are looking for a challenge or you live for competition then entering a BJJ tournament can be an amazing experience. Lets examine who should compete in Jiu Jitsu.
BJJ Players Who Love Competition
If you are a BJJ practitioner who lives for glory and is obsessed with winning then you are the perfect candidate for a BJJ tournament.
You will experience a tremendous high out on the competition mats and if you manage to win a few matches or even take home the gold you won’t be able to wipe the smile off your face for weeks.
You have to be crazy about winning to enjoy a BJJ competition. It is a stressful environment. You are all alone out on the mat. It is totally up to you whether you handle the adversity or crumble under the pressure. People are watching you. You could get injured or lose in an embarrassing fashion.
This kind of pressure is not for everyone. Highly competitive people thrive and enjoy this situation. They enjoy meeting this situation head on and dominating. If that sounds like you then you should absolutely compete in BJJ as you will enjoy the process and most likely have a great winning performance.
On the other hand if you aren’t really that concerned about winning, you are not the most competitive person and you don’t enjoy stressful situations then maybe a BJJ competition is not for you.
BJJ competitions can turn certain BJJ practitioners off the art. The whole effort of making weight, travelling to the tournament, paying registration fees and having a 100% wild grappling match with a random opponent is some people’s idea of a nightmare.
If you want to keep your BJJ journey more relaxed and low key then just stick to training. However, even if you don’t have the natural personality traits suited to crush BJJ tournaments you should still consider trying one out, because you never know until you try something.
BJJ Athletes Who Want A Challenge
A BJJ competition will challenge and test you. It is not easy travelling to a new environment and competing 100% against a random opponent and then potentially doing it multiple times on the same. This is especially challenging if it is your first BJJ tournament.
It doesn’t matter who you are, this is a stressful environment. If you are not ready to accept this challenge you will not perform at your best and will leave the tournament feeling disappointed.
You should only compete in a BJJ tournament if you are mentally and physically ready to give it your all and meet this difficult challenge head on.
There is no point competing in BJJ if you are going to half ass it. You will only end up annoyed because you will definitely not perform at your best and will most likely end up losing.
You will curse yourself that you didn’t take it seriously. You will be left wondering that if only you trained more, stuck to your diet or competed harder what the result would have been.
BJJ Athletes Who Want To Increase Their BJJ Ability
BJJ competitions can be a great tool to take your game to new heights. BJJ tournaments will reveal your weaknesses and strengths. For example you may be getting away with sloppy double leg takedowns in the gym when rolling with your usual non wrestling training partners only to compete against a decent wrestler and get punished as they quickly and sprawl, go behind and take your back.
BJJ competitions will reveal what areas of your game you need to focus on. During a tournament there is often little time to think and the high stress nature means you fall back on what you know. This situation can reveal the holes you need to plug.
When competing in BJJ you will have your techniques stress tested significantly more than during training rolls. That guillotine choke that was getting you taps in the gym may cease to work in a competition as your opponent fights 100% and refuses to tap until they go unconscious.
Due to the reasons BJJ competitions can be amazing teaching tools that if you learn from can quickly take your BJJ abilities to a new level.
BJJ Players Who Have Adequate Time
A BJJ competition is a serious time commitment. The tournament itself could easily be a whole day affair, while training preparations could last months.
You will have to travel to the tournament location which for many could easily be an hour + drive. You then need to weigh in and then wait around for your particular match. If you have multiple matches this could be hours of waiting. By the time you finish your last match you may have spent 6 to 8 hours at this BJJ tournament.
Then many BJJ athletes will spend months preparing for a specific tournament. They will follow a specific diet so they can weigh in under the weight limit for their class. They will increase their training volume so they can get into competition condition and hopefully learn some new techniques that will help them win the competition.
That level of time commitment is not something everyone is willing to put into one of their hobbies. If you do have enough time to dedicate to Jiu Jitsu then you absolutely should give a tournament a go.
BJJ Athletes Who Want To Become Professionals
If you have dreams of becoming a professional BJJ athlete then not only do you have to compete regularly but you have to win major competitions.
Winning major competitions is how BJJ athletes win prize money, attract sponsors and build a popular brand which they then can use to market and sell products.
If you look at the biggest personalities in BJJ they have all been high level competitors. Gordon Ryan is probably the most famous BJJ persona and he is currently reigning ADCC Absolute World Champion.
Ryan has used his BJJ competition accolades to build a fan base who he then sells his seminars and instructionals to. His competition success also helped land him lucrative sponsorship deals.
While competition success is not the only way to make money in the Jiu Jitsu community it is the one of most effective ways to build a base upon.