Grapplers Graveyard

Jiu Jitsu Competition: 6 Things to Know Before Competing

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So, you’ve been training for a little while and think you’re ready to compete? If you are a first-time competitor the nerves could be building up as you get closer to that day. You may not really know what to expect in the process so hopefully, this article can give you context as to what you are about to get yourself into. Here are 6 things you should know before throwing yourself into a jiu-jitsu competition.

jiu-jitsu competition

First things First

We want to make this clear, competing is a whole different ball game and we wish we would have known this before signing up. Not that we won’t compete in the future or anything but it is important to get a realistic expectation as to what it is like. Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a great way to push yourself and get into great physical shape but the shape you have to be in to compete (and win because who signs up to lose?) is going to take a whole different gear.

Competition is the best way to sharpen your skills and test yourself against people who are in your area. The number of tournament hosts popping up is awesome to see because it tells us te demand for the martial art we love is exploding.

Some of the more popular tournaments you should familiarize yourself with are:

Now that we got some basics out of the way, let’s dive into what to expect with your upcoming competition.

6 Things To Know Before Doing A Jiu-Jitsu Competition 

1) First off, do you AND your coach think you’re ready?

First things first, get approval from your coach before you consider signing up. Personally, we believe a good indicator of being “ready” would be training for 6 months and consistently going to both intermediate classes and fundamentals.

Some people will do this fast, some slower but we would say that is a good benchmark. When you’re coach gives you the green light, go ahead and make that purchase! Also, ask yourself if you think you are ready for this. Tournaments can be intense and there is no real way to ever be completely prepared for something that is completely new to you.

scoing guide brazilian jiu jitsu near me

2. Have a game plan & study scoring

Do not go in without a plan. What are your go to moves or strong positions that you like doing? Are you going to go straight into pulling guard or wait to let the opponent shoot? The more you have a mental map in your head of the route you would like to take the match the more confident you’ll be going into the tournament. Be sure to take the time to understand the scoring.

Don’t over plan though, things never go as expected which leads us to our next point.

3. Expecting the Unexpected

There is a lot to this point. You will have to just mentally prepare yourself for things to go left field, sometimes that is just the way the cards are dealt.

All you have to remember here is to focus on controlling what you can control. Everything outside of that should not be your worry, handle situations as they come and you will be okay.

Physically, you should be prepared before you sign up for a tournament otherwise your coach wouldn’t send you out to the wolves. The real part that will trip people up is the mental aspect of the competitions.

4. Arrive to the venue early

Scope out the venue. It’s probably going to be packed, chaotic, and extremely loud. If this is your first time competing arrive early just to feel out the vibe of the arena. Getting there at first can be an overwhelming feeling.

There is no downside to arriving a couple of hours before your match! When you do this you also get the opportunity to support and bond with your teammates. It’s an exciting thing when your gym starts having people sign up for competitions and showing support to the athletes goes a long way!

The key here is to arrive about two hours before your match actually competes. Arrive too early and the adrenaline rush that you get when your body is preparing for a match will make you tired. This is something most people find out the hard way.

5. Training the Week of the Upcoming Event

Do not go all out. The last thing you want to do is go off on a whim and end up hurting yourself. Our advice here does not to be dumb, unfortunately, accidents do happen and there is nothing you can do about that but going all out before a tournament is just not the smart decision to do.

Go through your plan and make sure that it is mentally and physically rehearsed so you go in feeling totally comfortable (you may not get here because the unexpected will probably happen) with what you’re about to put your body through.

Rest is important and so make sure you’re getting ample amounts of it the days leading up to the tournament. If you are cutting weight (not advised for younger children) make sure you are sweating but not overdoing it. There is a balance there.

adrenaline dumps. brazilian jiu jitsu near me

6. Adrenaline Dumps and Nerves

This is a note to keep in mind when matches start. You will have a giant rush of adrenaline when your matches start. You will probably feel on top of the world and have all the stamina in the world… until that feeling wears off. You may experience a sudden shift in energy levels after or during the match. This is not something that is 100% in your control, especially for first-time competitors, so it should not be a worry.

Your body has a natural reaction when it perceives danger, we are hardwired with this fight-or-flight system. You may burn out your forearms or completely gas out because of this. Being aware this may happen is a great mental note.

When we first were about to step up to the mats we were almost having an out-of-body experience. The noise of the crowd around us became deafening and we had a huge knot in our stomachs, my nerves really kicked in and we felt as though they really impacted our performance. We ended up getting smoked because we burned through all our energy within the first 30 seconds. I WISH I had read an article like this telling us what I am about to say.

The feeling you experience right before you walk onto the mats is your body preparing for combat. This experience is something that many soldier experience before their first time being at war or deployed to combat, Jocko talks about it pretty often. When I heard a video of him talking about this experience a sense of clarity and peace overcame us, we thought we were alone in this.

It is normal to feel this way before you walk onto the mats. Relax and realize that your body is preparing you for battle. It may take some time to get used to the feeling and the pressure but realize that the person in front of you is also going through the same experience. When you walk on those mats its time to lock in, accept what is going on, and get after it. You prepared for this moment and should feel excited about this moment.

Note, it is okay to feel nervous before your match. Fighters across all disciplines experience the nerves that arise before combat. You may not podium your first couple of times around but with hard work and dedication, you can get to where you want to go.


You should see the growth in your game within the first 6 months of practicing jiu-jitsu. It is like night and day from when you first walked into where you are. After about 6 months (of going to advanced classes) you probably know some cool moves, how to get out of bad positions, and putting up good fights against higher-ranked white belts.

How can you take it to the next level?

First off, showing up is the most important thing. There are a ton of people who make all the excuses in the world to not find time to go. Those days when you do not feel like training are the days you need to push yourself out the door. Get to the gym and get those rolls in.

You going for 6+ months straight shows a level of commitment to yourself which is the first step to everything revolving around progress. The only way you can leapfrog to another level is by competing in tournaments. After determining if you are ready or not, you should at least try to at least compete in two tournaments within the first year of practicing.

If the mats are the lab, then tournaments are the microscope to help find the bacteria. They are crucial for your growth. There is no better way to progress fast than you go and put yourself out there to compete. It can be nerve-racking but once you get a couple under your belt you will be ready to take your weight class by storm.


We are here to tell you if you only focus on stripes and belt progression you will not have a long-lasting career in this sport. Your coach will promote you when the time is ready and when they believe your skills have improved. They notice more than you think.

With that being said, a lot of white belts get excited seeing the progress within their game with no tangible way of showing it. You may be embarrassed telling people you’re a white belt even though you think you’re pretty badass. This is the ego jumping in and telling you these types of things and it is important to recognize it. Your journey is all that matters. No one thinks about you the way you think they do, focus on working on the techniques to sharpen up the style of play. You cannot control when your coach is going to give you a stripe or that new belt. Do not bother focusing on something you cannot control, it is a waste of time and mental energy.

Mentally and physically you are progressing for yourself. That is all that matters.

Competing will expose holes in your game that you never knew were there. It’s like you are the captain of the ship and until that giant wave comes and smacks your boat, you don’t know what blind spots are. Losing is probably the best way to expose those tiny holes but winning is just confirmation of the progress you have been looking for. Drilling day after day and seeing incremental progress carries over to your real life. You will watch yourself become more process driven versus outcome-dependent. This will be a game changer for you mentally and may take you to new heights as a human being.

Put your game under the microscope and take the risk of putting your body on the line. It may be a nerve-racking task but you will make out the other side a better human.

Training to Compete

Training to compete will take more out of you than you are probably imagining at first. Competitions are not for everyone and that is okay. We encourage everyone to at least do a couple before they rule out if they want to compete or not. At the end of the day, competition will make you a better practitioner, it is the best way to see where the holes are in your game against someone when stakes are on the line (gold medals).

jiu jitsu competition

Be ready to have fun! You are embarking on a very personal journey. Maybe your goal is to reach a black belt or maybe it is just to cut down on some extra weight, you are one step closer. Every success story is paved with different avenues and yours has just begun, we are happy for you!

Happy Rolling