Learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in a gym and using it in a
competition are two very different things.
But to take your game to the next level, a time will come
when you’ll need to compete against other people and not just your mates in
When that time comes, usually for white belts, it can be
nerve-wrecking, so we’ve put together these tips to help with your first BJJ
Preparation is important
First of all, it’s ok to be nervous before your first BJJ competition
– or your 100th for that matter.
If you’re not nervous, there’s something wrong.
Just arriving at the venue will get your adrenaline going,
so don’t panic. Make sure you bring everything you need for the day, including
plenty of water, snacks, and ID.
There’s a lot of sitting about at tournaments, so bring something
to keep you entertained and relaxed, like music (and a charger for your phone).
Preparation for a competition goes back weeks, if not
Once you sign up for the tournament, set up a plan for
training times along with a healthy diet. Try to cut out processed foods and
focus on whole foods, reduce processed sugars, and consume healthy fats and
A good night’s sleep is essential in general, but especially
more so coming up to a fight, although as the time gets closer, you may have
trouble nodding off at night.
Train like a beast leading up to the comp, but the week before
don’t push yourself 100%, you don’t want your body to be exhausted for the big
day. Your muscles, tendons, joints and ligaments will appreciate the break and
will be fresh for the contest, as well as your reflexes.
Listen to your coaches and training partners
Before signing up for a competition you should always talk
to your coach, assuming they weren’t the ones who signed you up in the first
You may have doubts about your skills or level, but if they
think you’re ready, then you’re ready.
Work with them on a training schedule and ask people what
their experiences are of their first competition and if they have any advice.
Many other white and blue belts may have had their first
tournaments recently, so you’re not alone.
Find training partners in your weight class and practice the
fundamentals until they are second nature. Train with them to recognise and
work on your weaknesses to give yourself the best chance of success.
Know the rules
Different BJJ competitions have different rules, and with so
many branches of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, there are plenty of variations between
tournaments, so make sure you know what the rules are.
The length of your Gi, the material used, the size of the
patches and where they go… all these things can differ between competitions, so
make sure you’re not caught out when you turn up on the day. In fact, if
possible, bring two Gis, always handy in case one rips during a match.
Knowing the rules will help you avoid disqualification if
you pull an illegal move, but also conversely help you win if you know what’s
allowed and what’s not.
The result isn’t important – win or lose
Your first BJJ competition is a cause of celebration,
regardless of the result.
Brazilian Jiu jitsu is a journey that lasts years, so
winning or losing a match on any particular day isn’t important.
What is important though is how you react to the result.
Always treat your opponent with respect, whether you tired
them in knots or vice versa.
Never make excuses for a loss – “I was carrying an injury,
the ref was biased…”. Always say you lost fair and square and move onto your
If you win, you’ll be over the moon, but don’t forget to acknowledge
your opponent’s skill and courage.