“Jiu-jitsu is jiu-jitsu no matter who is standing in front of you.”
Professor Shane Mount, REIGN Jiu Jitsu, RMNU
A couple months ago, I promised a breakdown of what I did to prepare for the last tournament I competed in.
As I’ve thought about what I wanted to share, it became clear to me that I didn’t want to come across like I know what’s up on the competition mat. Don’t get it twisted, I’ve only medaled at one tournament out of four, the great majority of my tournament experience has been losing by submission or points. I’ve mentioned before the mental struggles I’ve had when stepping onto the competition mat. So, this isn’t a “how to”. This isn’t a “Tournament Ready in 5 Steps.”
I dare not arrogantly speak upwards to the more seasoned competitors with countless more matches and mat time under their belts, nor condescendingly speak down to anyone with lesser experience than I.
My aim is share the experience I have had thus far and contribute to both my teammates and to the community what I put into practice that helped me take back much of that mental space and compete better than I have before. I’m no snowflake, unique and special, I’m sure that the steps I’ve taken could very well be identical or at the very least a high resemblance of approaches others have taken to reach the next level of competition and growth of their own game.
So, now that I’ve sufficiently covered that base, let’s move on.
Awhile back, Professor Shane were discussing these mental hang-ups and he had suggested that I read a specific book. He’d passed this book on to multiple Jitsukas who were having difficulty in competitions, having also he’s passed it on to friends who coached or participated in other sports where similar things were happening. Each time, there was a marked improvement. So in January, I began reading “The Fighter’s Mind: Inside the Mental Game” by Sam Sheridan. It’s not a “Jiu-Jitsu book”, but, with the topic of his book being about the mind of fighters, he does interview many high level competitors from the BJJ community, as well as MMA Fighters and high level Olympic and Collegiate Wrestlers.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
There was something in there that was hit on time and time again in this book. I’ve heard Professor Shane speak about it often, referring (humbly) to himself, or when speaking about Professor Robson Moura or other World Champion level competitors. I think it clicked more with reading this book. It’s kind of like when your Dad tells you something over and over again but then another adult tells you and you finally let it sink in, meanwhile your Dad is over there looking at you like, “I’ve been telling you that for years!!”. There is something every single BJJ Black Belt shares. There is something every single high level competitor shares in. From their small beginnings in the local tournaments that nobody pays attention to, all the way up to the Pan Ams, ADCC and the Worlds. They all share something. Without exception.
To my knowledge, there is no Myamoto Mushashi in Jiu Jitsu. (For those who are not versed in who this is, he is the author of “The Book of Five Rings” and supposedly never lost a fight…ever.)
The Fighter’s Mind covers this time and time again. Every fighter. Be they a boxer, wrestler, MMA competitor or jitsuka… every single one of them experienced a metric shit ton of losses. They learned and got better over time. Continually going back, learning from their losses and mistakes, reworking and reworking and reworking after every loss. Eventually, the scales tipped.
Let that sink in and interpret it how you may. For me, it’s helped me let go of much of the self imposed pressure. And with that, I’m tempted at this point, to turn here and give advice; to tell you what to do. But, as stated in the beginning, that’s not what I’m here to do.
So, that was one of the pieces that helped me with the mental side of implementing my game in a competition. And at this, I just crossed over the 700 word mark, so in the next piece I will cover the two other tweaks I made to enhance my calm.
Keep moving forward.