So you are considering your first competition. But for some reason when you think about it you very nervous. Is there anything you can do to stop the nerves? Realistically no there isn’t. The nerves are in built, you can thank your old hairy ape ancestors the old fight or flight feeling. But you can prepare yourself so you don’t have to deal with other issues on the day as well as your nerves. These are a few things to consider when preparing for your first competition.
Understand the competition set up and the rules.
You may want to go go down to a competition to support you friends and have a look around at what is happening. This may help you understand you’ll have to warm yourself up, sort out your own nutrition and drinks. As well as finding the registration desk and weigh table. You may also have some competitions that let you weigh in the morning of the competition. Others may work to the IBJJF model. Also run through the scoring process with your coach, the last thing you want to do is give up easy points, because you didn’t realise that move scored points. Understanding these points and preparing for them, can give you a little more comfort on the day.
People will be proud of you regardless the outcome
Whether your club is competition focussed or not, they will respect you for stepping up to compete. You will already know how you feel about it and don’t imagine you’re the only one that feels like that. Everyone goes through the same set of emotions and going past them takes a lot. That is why win or lose your coach and the other guys at the club will still respect you having a go. Remember even though you might lose, your partner will still love you, you’ll still have work on Monday, so it isn’t the end of the world.
Competition makes you better
Competition is a good way to expose new areas of learning. You may be able to kill everyone with your sweeps and finishes at your club. But if the guy you face in the competition has amazing takedowns, you may not get a chance to play your sweeps or finishes. So takedowns could be your new focus for a while. This is something you might not have discovered if you were just rolling. So competition forces you to get better.
Testing your skill level
I’m currently a Master 3 Blue Belt and it’s sometimes it’s have to get a fair impression of my skill level, when I roll with younger or bigger guys. So the competition will give you an even playing field. This will allow you to have a challenge thats as fair as you are going to find it. This has really helped me realistically look at my skill level.
I do this everyday anyways
Now granted, rolls at the academy are not like the 5-10 minutes spent on the mat at a competition. But we all friends that we will go a little harder with and you will be surprised that it probably won’t get much beyond this. Yes if your first competition is the Worlds or the Pan Ams then this will be a big step up. But by looking at a local competition it will be be a little less stressful and the experience will be something that you have probably had experience of already.
You will always have control.
Ultimately no matter how good your opponent is, you will still have the control. If it does all get too much or if you feel in danger you can still tap. This still applies in competition. This isn’t a Bloodsport remake and Chong Li isn’t going to send you to hospital. As an adult you need to be aware of your own safety, so if you need to tap.
These things will not reduce the pre competition nerves, but they will certainly reduce the other competition issues that can add to the stresses of comp day. If you do have any suggestions or ninja secrets for going into competition nice and calm I would love to hear them.