How do you approach competition (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or MMA..)?
With the IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation) Atlanta International Open about one week away – and many Gentry’s MMA & Fitness athletes in Buford, GA registered to compete – this is a good time to focus on the “Mental Approach” to competition.
Different people will have different theories on their approach. Some use visualization (visualizing *how* you will win, your hand being raised, standing on the podium, etc). Some will get super nervous…sweaty palms, stomach butterflies, and a near-paralyzing stress. Others work up anger by making it personal (i.e. “this person is standing between me & first place”…”I’ll be damned if I’m going to let this guy punk me in front of everyone and post it on YouTube”) and go into “Put him in a body bag, Johnny” mode, ala Karate Kid. And some Brazilian Jiu Jitsu & other athletes will manifest some type of combination of them all.
I’ll share with you one of my favorite outlooks on ‘competition’ mentality. It comes from an interview I listened to on OpenMatRadio from World Champion and Franjinha Black Belt from Paragon BJJ: Adam BenShea. — I had the privilege of training under Adam at Gentry’s MMA in Buford, GA for a period of time that he was one of the instructors there. Aside from being an incredible instructor and all-around Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athlete, Adam is known for some great 1-liners and ‘sayings’ that he would use quite well to communicate a particular message. Here’s a little of how that sounds:
“Don’t break your toys, or you’ll have nothing to play with. …so it’s really important to respect them [your training partners], to look out for them, if someone has a particular injury – that’s your obligation to make sure you’re not hurting that [injury] further…to have such a command of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that, not only are you able to hurt someone, but that you’re able to NOT hurt them. It like the test of a Samurai…it’s not how he pulls the sword out, but how he can sheave the sword…how you can put the weapon away [demonstrates your level of control and command of that weapon].” – Adam Benshea
Adam’s approach to competition is one that I have come to appreciate. We all work very hard in the gym, in our training and drills and sparring. That’s the hard part…the competition should be looked at like a REWARD for all the hard work you’ve been doing in your academy. And so, it’s good to approach competition as an opportunity to put on a show. As he puts it: “The best mindset that you can have [leading into competition] is: you’ve done everything you can do – now put on a show! It can relax you more…this isn’t like a ‘fight’… this isn’t these kinds of things. That’s there, right…that’s kind of a given, you don’t need to be reminded that this is a form of combat. What you need to be reminded is that you’re there to put on a show and to give your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu its best expression.”
And, to me, that approach makes sense. There are a ton of terms like “war” and “battle” and phrases like “gladiator entering the coliseum” and “my Gi is my coat of armor” that are everywhere in this world of combat. But at the end of it all, we are orchestrating in a Martial ART – and competition is a way that you can express your art and represent not only your coaches & your academy, but also how the Art (through them) has manifested into becoming a very unique Art of your own!
So continue to work hard…
Continue to be consistent…
Continue to put everything you possibly can into your training…
And then, come Atlanta Open….
Put On A Show!