BJJ White Belt: Pre-Tournament Thoughts

How the mind works is interesting, to say the least.

I am only a few short days away from competing in my second BJJ tournament. This time, the fight is in my own backyard, Boise, Idaho. I’m competing in the Masters Division (30-38yr olds), in the 185 weight bracket, and the tournament is being hosted by Grappling Industries.

This tournament is done a little different than my first. Instead of a two fight minimum, I am doing a round robin format and with the number of competitors that are currently in my division, I am doing at least four matches. Having gone the full five minutes in both matches the first time I competed, I’d much rather be strategic and win the fights early. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Or, as I am fond of saying, “It’s all theory until you get in the ring.”

Anyway, back to the way the mind works.

It’s been my focus this time to, for the most part, treat this tournament like a “BJJ Game Evaluation” seminar. I’ve put my money down to go in and have at least four other peers in Jiu-Jitsu evaluate my current game. It’s helped a little. I went back and re-read my thoughts before the prior tournament as I felt the same jitters and nervousness coming back to the surface despite the new mindset. I was amazed that I had forgotten about the pre-tournament rolls we did. I mean, I remember doing it and I remember my Coach keeping score, but I had forgot the number of rolls I did that night. I had forgotten the mental struggles I was having that night.

It’s funny, how the mind works.

I also reread the post where I announced my commitment to this tournament. I keep having to remind myself that I’ve gained a lot of experience since then. I keep having to remind myself that the tournament only means something in the moment and that after it’s done, it’s over. I keep reminding myself that it doesn’t matter what the other guy does; that I just need to go out there and execute my game to the best of my ability. I keep reminding myself, because in a way, I keep forgetting and that is when the fear and nervousness kicks in. I get that gut check spike, that almost adrenaline-like feeling course through me; the oh shit moment. 

It is there the battle has been fought. I then have to re-center, reset and remind myself. I remind myself, as my Coach said, that I’ve been here before. I now know what competition feels like. And I’m getting at least four more chances at it this Saturday. I remind myself, as my teammate said, that I have more experience than before. On Friday, I celebrate 11 months on the Jiu-Jitsu path with my teammates at 208 Fight & Fitness. Eleven months. What a wild ride it’s been! I remind myself that there really isn’t much that can be thrown at me, at this level and with the current rules, that could or should surprise me. I remind myself that it doesn’t matter what the other guy does; how much or little his training. I will work my game to the best of my ability.

I remind myself that I know why I am competing. I want to expose myself to this pressure and testing enough where I am completely calm, collected, cool and confident through the entire process. Before the tournament, during the rolls and after. So I must work on myself. I must put myself in these situations over and over again until that happens.

I remind myself of my ultimate goal, that asymptote of Mastery . I want to be better. Better at Jiu-Jitsu. Better at understanding myself. Better at dealing with pressure; the flight, fight or freeze reflex. Better as a man, father, husband and friend. Seeking out uncomfortable situations; hard training, pushing myself mentally, physically and spiritually is a path that offers such things.

It’s a worthy cause. It’s a win-able fight.

Besides, win or learn, it doesn’t really matter, there’s another fight going down in my backyard in April and I’ll be focusing on that one as soon as this one is over.

Pursue Mastery.

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4 thoughts on “BJJ White Belt: Pre-Tournament Thoughts

    1. Yeah, I never wrote a follow up, haha. It went well. Seven guys in my division, round robin style, so I did four matches. Took third. I was more comfortable during the rolls, but the mental jitters hit that morning. I definitely performed better than I did in the last tournament overall, more comfortable with the techniques and even more comfortable playing open guard – was able to put a guy in De La Riva guard for a bit too. Thanks for asking!

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