Thursday, July 7, 2011

To Compete or Not to Compete?

Shark Girl is thinking of competing.

I know, I know. Here comes the fear again.

I’m used to sparring with my regulars. I know how they put submissions on. I know when I need to tap. I know how they roll. In a competition, I will know none of that. What if I get injured? More importantly, can my fragile ego take getting owned? What if I don’t know all the rules and I break one?

On the other hand, what else am I training for? It will be a good chance to see my skill development.

I have read posts from first time (scared) competers like me, who afterward are so glad they did it. I suppose one never knows if they will like it until they try. And if Shark Girl doesn’t like it, she never has to do it again, right?

I welcome your thoughts and advice on this subject. At this point, I have made no final decision. But I do have another, perhaps tougher, question.

Which division? The divisions run from one to six months of experience, and from seven months to two years of experience. I have been training since the last week of November. Technically, I have 7 months of training. However, I have six months of gi training and one month of nogi training. Do I count the whole seven months? Or do I break it down? I will admit it scares me a little to compete with folks who have been doing it for two years, but I am no sandbagger.


  1. It's definitely good for you to get that first competition out of the way. Then you know what to expect for next time. And it's best to begin competing early in so that you can learn the ropes of competing before there's any pressure (real or imagined) to start winning anything.

    Best advice I got was from a 3-month white belt I fought when I had a year or more experience on her. (Divisions were combined because there weren't enough folks.) She'd decided that day to come and compete. She said, "What's the worst that can happen? I have to tap. Okay. I tap at the gym all the time."

    Rules are generally easy, especially in earlier divisions. Most tournaments have them posted somewhere online, so you can read them and ask questions, either here or at the gym.

    When's the competition?

    Total time training, whether or not it's actually been in nogi.

  2. Do it!! Definitely.

    The best thing I did for myself going into my first tournament was to have 0 expectations. I was truly focused on fun that day. During other tournaments when I found myself getting nervous (due to wanting to win/not wanting to lose), I would instead focus on the fact that I get to roll...and with a girl! I made sure I thought of it as a "scrap" as BJ Penn would say. That way I was excited to do BJJ instead of nervous about it.

    (I know you have read at least one of these already but....) Here I talk about nerves around the thought of competing and there is a lot of great advice in the comments. Here I mention a few ways as to how training for competition is different than regular training. Here I talk about why competing is awesome (which you commented on). And here I talk about how competing changed the way I train for the better.

    do it do it do it

    I'm curious as to what others will think but it is my opinion that going into the 0 to 6 month division would not qualify as sandbagging. So I would go with whichever one suits your fancy. Though, since you're a woman you might just have to go into the division that actually has some other people in it! =) Heck, they might even just put them together by default, depending on the size of the tournament.

    Wow. Long comment. Apparently competing gets me excited.

  3. Ditto-- go compete! And know going into it that it won't be entirely positive-- there will be moments of fear, anxiety, discomfort, frustration, boredom (yes!)... but also know (I promise!) It gets better every time. I ended up realizing that half my desire to compete was my desire to "defeat myself"-- to conquer my fears and anxieties. My last two tournaments I am happy to report I felt ... HAPPY. Relaxed, comfortable, eager, and not because I thought I'd win, either. (And I lost my first match at the Pan 20-0 so I was right!) But I had conquered my fears so I felt great even afterwards.

    Now.. as to which division. I say you are not eligible for the 0-6month division. True, not much difference between 6 and 7 months. But for my other friends who are truly 0-6 months peeps, I want them to know they are signed up against other "pure" 0-6 monthers. And most tournaments I've been to have at least had enough gals to separate THESE TWO divisions. (Though blues and purples might get mixed up!) So go on in there and have as much fun as you can and tell us all about it here :)


  4. I say, go for it!! Based on your blog, you seem like you like to challenge yourself. What better way than in a competition? Win or lose, you'll probably have a blast, and you'll have the support of your teammates and family.

  5. @Leslie: Yeah, i figure the longer I wait to compete, the less likely i will be to do it. I wish I had done it a few months ago, to tell you the truth, but the opportunity never came up.

    @Ashley: I like your idea of thinking about it as "getting" to roll. this could really help my attitude. if I can focus on that instead of winning/losing, it will be a good thing. I'm going to check out your old posts. Thanks for the convenient links!

    @georgette: Thanks for the advice, and especially the HUG! I will need it. I have this vision of these scary competitors on the mat. But I keep reminding myself that they're just all the great ladies i chat with on-line all the time. Really, is there a better bunch o' people?

    @Kim: You are correct, I do like a challenge. and I especially like being cheered for. I don't think I'll do it if my cousin doesn't come . . . not much fun without a cheering section or a partner in crime!

  6. There is very little down side to competing. And don't worry about losing. Russia is not amassing their armies, poised to invade if you lose.

    And in my experience, most people vastly underestimate themselves. I would consider myself a pretty mediocre bjj player, but in the last three years of competing I've lost one match, total, and I compete maybe three times a year. So you just may surprise yourself at how good you are!

    And finally, you'll just feel better about yourself. Even if you lose, (and you may) you will be proud that you overcame your butterflies.

  7. @heavytraining: lol, Russia just may be waiting to pounce once they see how inadequate my bjj is! ("Are all zee Americans zhis uncoordinated? Vee should strike now!") Anyway, for my own sake and for the country's safety, I hope you are correct about underestimation. That's one of the things drawing me to competition--i want a more accurate radar of my skills, whether or not competition will give that to me, I don't know.


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