With a BJJ tournament on the horizon, many students will start to prepare a month or more ahead of time.
A few common questions are sure to pop up:
1. “I feel really nervous and stressed before a competition. Is that normal?”
2. “How do I deal with that stress?”
Luckily, some of the biggest stars in Brazilian jiu-jitsu have already answered these questions.
Here they are.
Vinicius “Draculino” Magalhaes
“It is very common for beginners. I would say no matter what, that they are going to be nervous in any combat sport, competition will bring the butterflies. It happens to all of us. Even after all of these years I still have it before competitions. It is normal.
It is something that some people are addicted to, to be honest. It is something that is always going to happen but you have to control it. After all of these years I have found out that it is inevitable that you will feel that. It is very rare to see somebody going there without any kind of nervousness or being anxious. They always going to be.
I think that it is better to try to take your mind off of the task in times that you don’t need to be 100% focused. You don’t need to be thinking about this thing 24 / 7 because then it drains you. Try to get something that brings you pleasure and takes your attention out of the mission. Then at the time of the competition, at the time that you make weight, the time of the warmup then you focus 100%.
I think that a lack of focus is as bad as too much focus. I try to watch a movie, have some friends that laugh, play video games or just play with my dogs. Something to take my mind off of the task.”
“I say something simple: try to impose your game. Try to do what you do best. Competition is not the time to experiment! You have to experiment at the school, at the gym, in training.
That is where you have to risk yourself, put yourself in situations that you do not normally do to evolve your game overall.
But in the competition you should stick to what you do best. Sometimes the strategy goes in the toilet when the match happens, you have to be ready to perform according to what is on your plate! That is why the base period in the gym is so important. You have to be good overall because you never know what you will be facing.
Try to do what you do best during the matches. Always face very match as though it was the last one. Don’t try to think about the next matches because maybe you will get surprised! It happened to me before and I am pretty sure that it has also happened to a bunch of people.”
Nervousness Before A Competition
“It is always good to feel a little nervous before the match, specially when is your first time competing. But you have to keep in mind that, if you did everything possible to prepare for the match, then you are ready for the challenge. Right before the match close your eyes, take a deep breath and say something positive to yourself, something like, “I’ll do my best, I am ready for this”… After this you shouldn’t feel too nervous. But if after all this and during the match you forget everything and black out, you are too nervous to compete, then you just need more MAT TIME.
I personally always feel nervous before my matches, but definitely way less than before.”
Preparing For A Competition
“I think the biggest things for me were:
1. Never focus on your opponent’s strongest techniques, or trying to counter them, you have to focus on your strongest positions and how to apply them effectively. Of course I am not saying you should not pay attention to your opponents strengths, and most dangerous techniques, but more like, pushing your game all the time.
2. Drilling/practicing the techniques is one the most important things for a successful competitor.
3. Discipline and commitment with everything you do.
4. Faith (Have faith in you and in your training) Be confident with the victory.”
Preparing For A Competition
“I believe that once you found your favorite position, and your favorite game, the next step should be 3 things: How to get there; Understand everything that can happen there; and also have at least 2 or 3 combinations on that game.
It’s really important to know how to get on that game plan, if you are super good at closed guard for example, but you never get to close the guard, you are in troubles. Your game plan is worthless, because you don’t know how to get there. So you definitely should know at least 3 different ways to get on that position, that is your favorite.
Also you should try to understand everything that can happen there. You should have an answer for all the “ifs” in that situation. For example, What about IF your opponent do this? And what about IF your opponent block your leg here? And so on. So its really important to have an answer, a counter for all the things that can happen there. Of course this requires hundreds, or thousand of hours playing that game, you are becoming a specialist on that.
Third, but not less important, you should always have more than one option in that game plan, that’s why I always play the deep half guard game, and also the single leg half-guard game, because in case one doesn’t work, I can always switch to the other one, and they are both related, they are from half-guard. If you have 3 or 4 options you can combine than and make it become 1000 options.
All I want to mean is that you don’t need to know 1000 techniques, as long as you know very well 4 and you know to combine them, you will have hundreds of variations, does it make sense? I know its a bit hard to understand, but its much more simple, then trying to lean all the thousands of positions that there are in Jiu-Jitsu and in the end of the day, you feel that nothing works, because you haven’t specialized in any of them.”