Competition is something that is intrinsic to human beings. As long as history has been recorded there has been competition.
From the ancient olympic games of Greece to the Highland Games of Scotland, physical competition is at our core. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is no exception to this. From the Vale Tudo matches and early UFC matches, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has always looked to prove its supremacy over the fight game. As a result, in BJJ there is a very rich culture of competition.
This leads to a decision that many people face, whether to compete or not to compete.
Not everybody will compete. Not everybody wants to compete; and that is completely fine! For those of us who chose to compete, competition can be massively beneficial.
Fresh training partners
We pride ourselves in being a family at Gentle Art Dojo. Your training partners are an extended family that keep you coming back day in and out. However, this also means that your training partners know every intricacy of your game.
Take our head coach Raphael for example. He has an incredible submission which I will not name, however we all know and fear this submission. So we have learned to adapt against this submission. In competitions, he hits this all the time. Each competition match you have is a fresh training partner that, most likely, has never seen your game before. You can truly see what your skills are and where you need to work on.
That one submission or one strength that every training partner has been trained to avoid, can be used at its fullest in competition. The one hole in your game can also be exploited to its fullest.
Gives you concrete goals and roadmarks
Unlike most martial arts, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is not a belt factory. For most adults it can be years between belts. Mentally this can be a drag, especially for those who feel as though they have hit a plateau in their training.
A competition gives you something to work towards. Something to show up every day and train hard for. It gives you that reason to drill the positions you are bad in and to develop your own unique game. This keeps competitors striving to improve and gives us the fire to train when we do not want to.
Learning to win and lose graciously
Talk to any competitor in any sport and they will say you will lose way more than you win. Rather than quit, everybody must learn how to lose. There is a saying that a black belt is only a white belt who never quit. During the 10 + years to get your black belt you will lose countless times. Adapting to learn from losses rather than quit becomes one of the most important lessons you can learn in BJJ.
Going through the motions of winning and losing from an early point in your BJJ career turns into invaluable knowledge that can help you through. Nothing gives you the ups and downs of winning and losing in real time more than competition