I came across this passage in Saulo's Jiu-Jitsu University and wanted to pass it along to you. I think it'll resonate well, considering the recent preparations we've been making for this Saturday's tournament. What's your take on competition in jiu-jitsu? What role does it play in your own development? Get the discussion going in our forum.
Competition and Jiu-Jitsu: Saulo's Ribeiro's Perspective
It is not necessary for every student of jiu-jitsu to enter into competitions. Some may do jiu-jitsu simply because they enjoy gaining the knowledge. Others perhaps dislike the limelight or just don't want to compete in this particular sport. I love to do other sports, but I don't have the desire to compete in those sports. Some people don't like to compete because they don't know how to deal with loss. If you win, you're happy, and if you lose, your world gets turned upside down.
That is a problem. This fear of losing scares some people from competition. Then there are those who live and die by competition, but fail to realize it is just a game. It is a game where you mix knowledge, strategy, timing, health, and attitude. Like any game, the best jiu-jitsu practitioner doesn't always win. Take the World Championship for example. 30 guys sweat blood in their training, and there is only one winner. What about the 29 who worked so hard? Is the champion really better than all of them? It depends. Sometimes, the person with the best technique gets eliminated in the first round.
If you decide to compete, realize that competition is the art of dealing with pressure. Some people face pressure early in life and others not until much later, but in every case, where there is pressure there is competition. The student who doesn't compete at the tournament is still competing if the pressure is there. Perhaps he even feels more pressure than the one who does go to tournaments because he fights against himself...competes against his feelings and choices. This is the toughest opponent you can have -- yourself.
Ultimately, the opponent you will face in the ring is you, because you cannot compete successfully if you do not address internal issues that will affect your performance. When competing, you will not even be able to think about overcoming your opponent if you are too worried about yourself. However, if you are comfortable with your preparation, you will have the confidence to perform. Becoming the champion is not about your opponent. It's about you.
Finally, if you want to learn something about someone's jiu-jitsu, you should learn it in the academy. Many people enter competition with hopes that it will be a fast track to getting better. However, the quality of training partners actually has a much greater impact on skill level than competition does. Though competition can be a part of training, it alone will not improve technique.
Competition shows such a small part of any given competitor's knowledge that it masks what he really knows. In the academy, you can see him for who he really is. You will see him relaxed and in the proper environment to exhibit his understanding of jiu-jitsu and educate you and others of its benefits. This is what will keep jiu-jitsu evolving.
Competition will always be a window to show the world how professional the sport can be. But the growth of the sport over the coming generations will not be reliant on the competitive aspect.