You Win Some You Learn Some – Reflection of my Jiu-jitsu Competition

Competing is such an intense experience. If you’ve ever participated in competitive sports, you know the feeling I’m talking about. Now, multiply that intensity by 100. I’m not kidding. You’ve got to be a special kind of crazy to compete in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Picture this. Your opponent is trying to take you to the ground, control you, break any moving joint in your body, and choke you unconscious. How’s that for some friendly competition? Despite the million miles per hour movement, heart rate, and aggression – when all is said and done, you shake hands, hug it out, and show deference, because win or learn, Jiu-jitsu works. We respect the technique and especially our training partners whom without we can’t learn and improve.

Yesterday I competed in my second Jiu-jitsu competition ever. I competed at white belt in 2016 and this was my first competition at blue belt now in 2018. Here’s the catch – I fought the same woman in both tournaments. Not just any woman; my own teammate. A tough, fast moving, strong and technical grappler. This woman is determined. When she sets her goal, she is determined to get it. I admire the hell out of her for it. We received our blue belts together and I am proud to say she is one of my greatest friends and best training partner. So when we realized we were going to fight each other again at an In-House tournament due to lack of female blue belt competitors, we knew we would put on a good show.

I didn’t do anything special to prepare for this fight. I train BJJ every day, a couple of times a day so I didn’t feel like I was lacking training. I didn’t cut weight. I ate whatever I wanted. I didn’t work out any different. I know that I will need to change this when I start competing in bigger tournaments such as the IBJJF.

THE DAY OF THE FIGHT

My match wasn’t scheduled until about 1 PM so I had plenty of time to eat breakfast, get hydrated, and relax. I ate a half of a Mexican style sandwich with turkey, cotija cheese, bean paste, red onions, tomato, and avocado and a side of fruit. I felt satisfied which was a difference from my first tournament in 2016 where I ate just a bowl of oatmeal and was starving before my fight. I also had some pre-workout and lots of water so I had to pee like 10 times before 1pm LOL. TMI, but I know the lady practitioners will appreciate the honesty. I wasn’t nervous. I was actually just really excited to experience competing again. I’ve never been a really competitive person so I knew that if I’d win or lose, I’d be okay.

The fight went down like this: She shot for a double leg, I hit a reversal and ended up on top with an advantage then while trying to pass her guard, I got caught in an arm bar to which I tapped.

And that post fight feeling I had completely forgotten! Out of breath, hands cramped up, heart racing, exhilarating feeling… I want to do it again.

I made silly mistakes in my match and did things I wouldn’t normally do. Why? Probably due to the overwhelmingly fast-paced intensity. How does one think at such a rate? I guess it will come with more competition experience, learning from my mistakes, and muscle memory.

Although I didn’t get the win, I am proud of myself for going out there and competing. It takes courage to put your pride aside, step on the mat in front of a crowd, and give it all you’ve got. As for now, I will 1) nurse my elbow injury which could have been a lot worse, but I am grateful that it will heal in a couple weeks. I’ll have to observe it carefully and update you all on the status. I will 2) continue to train daily, most likely tie one arm up and not use it when rolling. I will 3) watch my video and address my mistakes. Isn’t that always hard the first couple of days after a loss? Watching what you did wrong or could/should have done – or is it just me? Lol. It’s painful, but it sure does make you hungry. Hungry to get back out there and do better next time. I will also 4) mentally and physically prepare better for my next competition.

Not only did I take valuable information from my own match, but from those of others as well. That’s the beauty of the game – you’re constantly learning. Here is what I managed to take in that I hope will be useful to anyone who wants to compete.

*“You’ve got to want it bad enough. If you didn’t win, you didn’t really want it.” That’s some powerful, eye-opening, tough love, band-aid ripping off, realization type of motivation from my Professor. It makes you want to get to work.

*Be aggressive. Don’t take no for an answer. I once asked my Professor what a good dialogue to have with myself in my head during rolling and he gave me this: “Just think. Do you want to be the hammer or the nail? This motherfucker is trying to make me the nail right now, but I’m the fucking hammer.” –Professor Carlos Gomez. Save the friendly rolls for training, turn it up in competition.

*Tap early if you need to. Your ego is not worth the injury that will follow the stubbornness to tap. I hyper-extended my elbow from not tapping early enough to the arm bar thinking I could still escape so that will cost me flexibility and range of motion in my arm for a couple weeks. Not being 100% is really annoying.

*Control the pant legs. I always do this in training so I am especially peeved at the fact that I didn’t try harder at doing this in the comp. One of the silly mistakes that cost me the match. I need to recite that to myself during the entire match. *annoyed face*

*Don’t talk back to your Coach or Professor if they give you feedback while you’re fighting. They’ve been there before, know more than you, and are only trying to help you win. Despite all that it’s also disre-fucking-spectful.

*If you’re thinking about doing something in your head, just DO IT! A couple of times I thought to myself of going for the takedown or kicking off the spider hook and I actually remember saying no. It was too late. While I’m having this deliberation in my head, my opponent just advanced their position. Shit.

*Don’t be afraid to take risks. This guy pulled off a flying arm bar. I spoke to him after, and he said he’d never done that before. I was afraid to get guillotined while going for a takedown, but I should’ve just taken the risk. Who knows. It could have turned out in my favor.

All in all, competing was a great experience! Definitely one I want to continue and improve upon. Thank you to all of my training partners at Gomez Jiu-jitsu, Gerson Sanginitto of Delta BJJ, and especially my Professor & husband, Carlos Gomez, who teaches me everything I need and more to succeed and believes in me whole-heartedly. I love you.

“A minor setback paves the way for a major comeback.”
–Saiyidah Aisyah Mohamed Rafa’ee, Singapore Olympic Rower

What was your competition experience like? What are some of the things you have learned while competing? Let’s converse in the comments! Thanks for reading.
-Jules

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