Tournament Tips (served with a large Grain of Salt)
Updated: Jan 10
8 de janeiro 2023
Writing this a few weeks after my latest competition (December 15 in Del Mar, put on by Jiu Jitsu World League). I needed time to reflect on my matches, and I also took two weeks off from jiu jitsu around the holidays. (or maybe I'm just making excuses for my procrastination.)
I wanted to share some of my learnings from the competition as well as some tips for other white belts who either want to compete & are scared or are planning to compete & looking for advice. Hopefully it goes without saying that I am no expert; please consult with your sensei for more seasoned advice. 😂 **if you're in the mood for amateur sports, my matches can be viewed here.**
My brown-belt teammate Dave gave me this advice: "Be selfish." As in: on competition day, you need to prioritize setting yourself up for success which includes saving up your energy -- both physical and mental. So as much as you want to support your teammates, if their matches are within ... like maybe 1.5 hours of yours...don't watch them. The hype will drain your battery, especially if you feel invested in them doing well.
On the other hand, if you have the option to go watch your teammates after your matches are done, definitely do so! Don't miss the opportunity to support your teammates and your team. Plus, you will probably learn something. Try to pick out what they're doing well and find things that you would do differently. (Just refrain from sharing your advice 😂 ... I realize the hypocrisy here as I write a blog sharing advice*).
Plan a pre-match routine. For me, that means:
- breaking a good sweat (my teammate Edgar, a former wrestler told me that). In this past tournament, I started with some sprints and warmups I learned from my time doing track in high-school. And then, about a half hour before my match, I found some (tiny) space on the warm-up mat and did some light guard retention and passing.
- prepping a good playlist to get you hyped for your matches
- decide on a mantra to repeat to yourself right before the match, when the nerves are out of control. It might be "just have fun," "leave it all on the mat," "you know what to do," something like that.
* When I first started writing posts, I had no intention of sharing them publicly. I figured I was not in a place to be sharing advice in something I am a novice at. But Sensei Gustavo said I should share them because other beginners might be interested in my perspective.
Some Personal Learnings
Coach Marcus recommended those of us who competed to rewatch our matches and decide on one or two things we want to focus on and improve for the next several weeks. Here are mine:
I'd like to learn how to maintain control after taking the back. There were a number of times where I was not able to stay on top, and in general I didn't feel stable & in control. Since the competition, I've learned a few tips.*
Closed guard sweeps! I have a few open guard sweeps under my belt (pun intended) but I'd like to have more options from closed guard besides the hip bump sweep, which I kept spamming in my matches that it became quite predictable. For example, I'd like to practice the flower sweep and pendulum sweep more.
"Don't just win by the minimum amount. Go the extra distance and try to win by submission." -- John Danaher In my matches, I had many opportunities to go for subs but I either didn't take them or couldn't finish them. The score in a couple of my matches was high enough that I feel like I should have been able to do that.
* Keep your chest glued to their upper back. If they go into a downward dog-type position, with their butt up, trying to dump you off, switch from seatbelt to double unders to prevent that from happening.
Last tip: Be friendly with your opponent, but not until all your matches are over.