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Too Much Of A Good Thing

I am a huge proponent of Jiu-Jitsu competition.  I do not think it’s the be-all-and-end-all, but I do think the benefits for one’s Jiu-Jitsu and character development are undeniable.  We do not expect it of our students at Flow Martial Arts.  We would never push them to do something they did not want to do, or were not interested in doing, however we definitely drop a subtle hint here-and-there of its advantages.

For those who have not yet competed in Jiu-Jitsu, as aforementioned the benefits to both your  Jiu-Jitsu and character are many.  Just rattling a few off of the top of my head, such benefits include; pushing your training to a higher level, pushing your physical fitness and conditioning to a higher level, developing mental strength and toughness, learning how to cope with pressure, learning how to control your nerves and adrenalin-dump, learning how to perform under pressure, learning how to develop strategy in Jiu-Jitsu, learning what works and what doesn’t under pressure, learning how do deal with failure, learning how to deal with success, learning how to improve on your mistakes, honestly the list is a very long one.  But even with all such benefits, of recent I have come to feel that there can be too much of a good thing.

As I said earlier, I am all for Jiu-Jitsu competition.  I am not the greatest competitor out there, I win some I lose some, but I am always willing to have a go.  At the lower belt levels, especially late into my blue belt and at my purple belt I was competing a lot.  My goal at the time was 10 tournaments per year.  It didn’t matter how good a quality these tournaments were, I just wanted to hit 10 tournaments a year.  At the time I felt I could handle this number, and strongly believed that the more I competed the more rapid my development in Jiu-Jitsu would be.  And my thinking was not too far from the mark.  Due to all such benefits, competing can rapidly excel your progress in Jiu-Jitsu.  This however is providing you are doing it right.  And I feel I was somewhere in the middle.

When I look back now at how I approached these tournaments, the quantity of tournaments combined with the way I approached them may have actually stunted my development somewhat.  And here is why I am coming to think like this.  When you are training for competition the focus is typically conditioning related.  One tends to train harder, roll harder, they may include a regime of weight lifting, running, or circuit training.  The focus becomes more on developing stamina, and mental and physical toughness.  When rolling (Jiu-Jitsu’s equivalent to sparring), competition training tends to focus on developing one’s A-game.  The competitor tends tends to roll harder and resultingly tends to focus on those moves and techniques they are already good at.  The ones that work for them.  They look to refine these techniques and moves with the intention of developing them to a point where they become second nature in the competitive arena.  And this is where competing a lot can be problematic.  I am not saying competing a lot is problematic in all cases, but it can be if you are taking this approach.  The reason being that if you are competing say once a month, that month is typically focused on conditioning and developing your A-game, this generally leaves very little room for drilling new techniques and working on your B and C-games.  Here one can come to constantly refine one aspect of their Jiu-Jitsu at the sacrifice of the development of their overall game and repertoire.  One’s exploration of the possibilities of their Jiu-Jitsu can become neglected.  This competitor may become a killer at one aspect of Jiu-Jitsu, but a novice at the rest.  Furthermore, over time, your opponents will come to know your A-game, and will come to develop strategies to overcome it.  If you are spending little time expanding your Jiu-Jitsu, when it becomes time to fall on your B and C-games you may be lost.

I feel as though this has been a fault of mine over the past few years so I have decided this year to take a new approach.  I can’t guarantee that this approach will work, but I will surely keep you posted on my later opinions of it.  This year I am setting the goal to compete in 5 tournaments.  I feel as though this will provide me a better balance between the experimentation and enjoyment of Jiu-Jitsu, and time spent preparing for competition.  I am hoping that this will better help me develop both my B and C-games, whilst also helping me better enjoy my Jiu-Jitsu experience and lifestyle as a whole.

I guess where I am going with this is that too much of a good thing can be problematic if it is not performed right, or at least right for that person.  It is important at times to step back and take a look at what you are doing.  Is it helping you move toward your overall goals?  Or are you just doing it because it’s what you’ve always done?  For me my overall goal here was to improve at Jiu-Jitsu, competing a lot was helping with this improvement but I feel only in one area.  Now it is time for me to try a different approach, and for the outcome only time will tell.

Ryann Profile


Thanks for reading and happy rolling,


Ryann Creary

Co-owner at Flow Martial Arts

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