It’s possible to go to jiu-jitsu class five days a week and never adjust diet (although not best practice, or even advisable). That’s really not the case for jiu-jitsu competitors. First: competitions require committing to a weight class, so weight needs to be managed or even lost (especially for gi competitions where one must weigh-in wearing the gi uniform). Second: eating healthy for performance is one of the most effective and simple ways to ensure success. Eat good, feel good, it’ll show in competition. Third: save money and focus. Getting ready for competition means eating out at restaurants or calling for delivery lacks quality and calorie control. Meal preparation is a time-consuming task that keeps competition in focus and a relaxing, rewarding way to get there.
There are teams within jiu-jitsu teams. Training at a gym makes one part of the larger team; however, there’s a different dynamic to those that compete, and most schools serious about competition have dedicated teams that require a higher-level of dedication, maybe even a tryout. Regardless, competing ramps up the level of teamwork necessary to perform. It’s not just worrying about one’s performance come tournament time. It’s crucial to prepare training partners equally and root for them when their competition matches come, and welcome and comfort or celebrate with them when it’s all done. They will return the favor. It’s what makes the process unique and can elevate it to special.
Signing up for a jiu-jitsu tournament is a clear cut goal. It’s possible to go in for fun, but the jiu-jitsu scene has developed enough where that is an outlier attitude. Your coach may have expectations for your performance; in fact, a good instructor will clarify them and guide you through the process. That doesn’t mean winning is everything, but competing in jiu-jitsu, while an individual performance on the mats, represents training partners and the academy too. It’s a competitive atmosphere leading up to a tournament and on the day, it turns up a notch. Expect to push personal limits. It’s crucial.
There is much to learn from competing. Whether victorious or defeated, adjustments are necessary going forward. It’s how to better understand jiu-jitsu. Even if those takeaways are just for the gym and competing isn’t of interest going forward, a jiu-jitsu tournament is a barometer for what goals will better your jiu-jitsu practice.
You came up short – it happens – but you’re going to do it again. You won! Now you crave victory on a bigger stage. Guess what? In either scenario, you might be transitioning from hobbyist to competitive athlete. Jiu-jitsu’s tournaments offer cash prizes and there is a circuit that some elite athletes have turned into a full-time living. Jiu-jitsu’s accessibility is why it has boomed in popularity; if you started as an uncoordinated, weak non-athlete, jiu-jitsu has taken those types and blossomed them into world champions before.
Even if you win one tournament and step away from competition, the gold medal on your wall will let people know about your athletic achievement.