Lessons Learned from a Jiu Jitsu Competition

Victory Grappling Championships was held on Sunday, December 2nd in Parkville, MO.  The St. Joseph Brazilian Jiu Jitsu club hosts the event. This was my fourth competition.

In all of my competitions up until this one, I’ve won my first match.

In the Gi division, I only had one other competitor in my division.  When this happens, they have a best of three matches.  I lost my first match.  This wasn’t what I was used to.

However, I wasn’t drained, as he trapped me in a fierce triangle in which I had to tap out.

As I stood waiting to face this same opponent again, I decided that I was not going to get trapped in the same place. I thought about the mental game. He was confident, as he just beat me.  He probably didn’t know that I was making plans on beating him the next match.

The second match started similarly, but I was able to avoid his trap this time. Indeed, I eventually passed his guard for a few points.  Soon, my brown belt teammate Morgan was able to sit in my corner and feed me instruction.  This was more help than I can describe.  Having someone there giving you something to do while you are completely drained is priceless.

Morgan provided focus, something that distracted me from my utter exhaustion. These small goals and missions kept me busy doing things that put my opponent on the defensive. Time was on my side.  It eventually ran out while I was up 3-0.  I forced a third match.

Between the second and third match is when I let the mental game defeat me.  I could not concentrate on anything besides how completely spent of energy I was. My forearms were concrete. I could barely hold on to my water bottle.

Instead, I should have been presenting myself as not spent (which is what he was doing), and focusing on how my opponent is just as tired as I am, and I will be facing just as drained a competitor.  My plan should have not changed from before.

I let the mental game beat me, and inevitably, I lost the match.  It is one I should not have lost.

There was a long time before the No-Gi division would start, so I had a lot of time to recover some strength and energy.

My first roll was against someone I underestimated.  I looked at him and thought immediately that I could beat the guy.  As soon as the match began and we locked up, I believed it even more, as I was the stronger of the two.

I learned a valuable lesson.  Never, ever, underestimate your opponents. Until time runs out or they have submitted, you roll with them as you would roll with the fiercest competitor.

He led me to believe I was controlling the match, and let me in for a take down.  His guillotine was too effective for me to evade, and I had to tap out.

Now, in the third place bracket, I had to win two matches for third.  My next match was against the same guy I had already rolled with three times during the Gi division.  However, he gave me an edge by giving me way too much information between rounds. He told me he had never practiced No-Gi.  Everything else we talked about was inconsequential, because I had made up my mind I was going to beat him in No-Gi.

Lesson learned: during small talk between rounds, never talk about your weaknesses.

To really help matters, both my teammates were finished and at match side. Again, I can’t begin to describe how helpful this was.

During the match, I got several take downs, controlled the back and got my hooks in, took mount, and racked up a total of 14 points.  I observed something from the last match I had with him to this match, which was how important mentally it is to get the first points. Especially when you are drained, coming back from a deficit can be a mental mountain to climb and you find yourself defending more than being aggressive.

It seemed all the wind in his sails had vanished. The win felt good

By the third match in No-Gi, it really had started to sink in how little I knew of jiu-jitsu, and how that was the same with all of the white belts around me. We’re all out here learning and gaining more and more experience.  Even with the wins, I attribute it much to my instruction on the side lines.

I’m like a remote control car with a slowly draining battery. They control me from the sidelines with each instruction they yell, but have to compromise now and again because of that low battery.  Its responding, just not as fast and as quick as you’d like.

I faced a monster of a guy on my third match. Although I had him in height, his arms were as big as my legs. Keeping my head up (something Morgan kept yelling), I was able to defend his guillotine attacks, which would have crushed me quickly.

With the first take down, my confidence increased dramatically.  “Get your hook in!  Get your seat belt on!  Look for that choke!”  Every instruction provided focus and attention.  What’s next? What’s next?

Surprising him with my non-dominant left, I snuck my arm in for a solid choke and a submission.  Never had a bronze medal felt so good.

The six matches gave me a lot to think and mull over.  I’m so appreciative of my teammates, both the ones in the gym that roll with me week to week, and the ones that were mat side, competing along side me.  Without them, I am nothing.

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Lessons Learned from a Jiu Jitsu Competition

    1. It’s almost been a year! From now on, I think I’ll limit myself to a small number of competitions per year and put a serious amount of focus and preparation into each and every one. I did this for the first three but was lacking on this latest.

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