T Nation

My First Jiu Jitsu Tournament


So this last weekend I competed in a grappling tournament in Omaha NE. I did not place, and I lost both my matches. I found that as soon as the matches began I lost all strength, didn't focus on my breathing, and played reactively. I'm sorely disappointed, as I believe I could have won both matches.

My first match I even ended the round in mount, but did not get the points (as my foot had not cleared the legs [passed from half guard straight to mount because there was only 30 seconds left and I panicked.]) Just an update for anyone who cares.

(Cumulative jits trainig: 5 months, weight 164 with gi, weight class 167-174)


Why not cut weight? I'm a little fluffy(skinny fat -.-) atm and up near 170 but I drop below 160 without even trying. Adrenaline dump is common in tons of sports.. you'll get better at controlling it with more experience. keep up the good work :stuck_out_tongue:


Relax. Competition jitters hit almost everyone. Right before you go in there the fear hits you: "Will I get humiliated", "Are my skills enough?"

Personally I get that before every match, but it usually disappears the second the match starts. The more you compete, the less the jitters affect you. I've only competed twice in just under two years and run off an adrenaline high for most of the 6 mins of match time, but there's a 40yo guy at my school (former wrestler) that steps on the mat and performs like he was sparring.

My advice (you already know I'm two years into it, so take it FWIW, heh):

-A few weeks before the comp, go hard in training. Simulate the pace that you'd grapple with. I personally think pacing can be a game changer. My last comp, most of the matches I won were due to imposing an uneasy amount of physicality on my opponents; the smaller/weaker guys had 185lbs of oddly quick blubber passing their guard, the stronger ones couldn't keep up on the scrambles. Of course, I'm not saying spaz out or anything, technique is still key here. For the record, the one's I lost to got me on technique.
-Focus on your go-to techniques and tactics. There's little point expanding your repetoire in comp prep (though, if, for e.g, your bottom game sucks hard like mine, you might want to work on escapes, sweeps).
-Cover your bases in training. If you're a top player with good takedown defense, you're all fine and good until you can't take your guy down: Then what? Make sure that guard is decent enough that it isn't an automatic guard pass for your opponent when you pull it.

That's all I got.


Good advice from Mr. dymc. He's right about the pre-match jitters too. I never even think about a submission during my first match, I just want to get the takedown, play a good positional game, and get my head straight again lol

Did you have quite a few guys from your gym competing? It helps to have everyone pushing each other for a few weeks pre-tournament. Harder conditioning, more intense rolling, then the competition is the fun part. If you aren't banged up or anything, try to find another tournament soon. The more experience you get and the more comfortable you are with the whole process the better you'll feel and perform.


a) it was your first time, almost everybody chokes his first time. I was lucky my trainer calmed me down.

b) you probably faced white belts with a lot more experience if you've only trained for 5 months.

c) you were in the wrong weight class.

so don't sweat it, keep training, you'll improve and start winning.


1) Compete over and over and over. First comp or two you get a massive adrenaline boost followed by being completely gassed before you even roll. It's really just nervous energy. I recommend against hitting cardio too heavily, because adrenaline will gas you in spite of your endurance.

2) Train for the next comp by:
A)Starting a lot of matches from stand-up, white belt take-downs are often scary and poorly practiced
B)Try to do a lot of matches based on the time limit allowed for your group, and try to have someone score them in practice for you. Do not waste time gaining a position that isn't going to gain points
C)Start matches in your gym with limited time left, you're behind on points, and in a bad spot (side controlled, mounted, North-Southed)
D) have 2 escapes and 2 submissions from every position if you can. (Get out of side-control by pulling guard or by going out the back for example)

3) Keep in mind that white belts are the most open experience level, because a guy with an extra 6 months of training really beats you down. You will be significantly better in the next month or two, and could come out a whole new grappler.

Congrats on the tourney! We had a handful of white belts compete last month and most never scored a point. You're ahead of the game if you can at least pull mount in your first couple matches.


Congrats- you broke your cherry.

Everyone gets nervous anxious scared the first time or first several times.
Its natural and its just anxiety.

I worked hard to overcome that and it it took me a while and several matches
before I could.

adrenalin is a powerful chemical, and it takes a while to figure out what to do with it.


Congrats on your first tourny, sorry it went so poorly for you. Sounds like a typical first-time experience though: adrenaline dump, not a lot of focus on the clock, and (probably) opponents who have some experience.

The best way to get better at managing that is to have more fights. It calms you down a lot once you've been there a few times, and once you've controlled the adrenaline the rest is much easier. If you can, try to set up some competition-style rolling at your gym, or participate if they already do it. One of my old gyms used to devote every saturday to an intermural tournament, as though we were constantly competing. Even though it's at your home gym and against guys you know it still builds up your adrenaline a bit, teaches you clock management, and generally helps to get you ready.


I had my first light-contact kickboxing tourney three weeks ago. I was pretty sure that I would lose so I was really relaxed as I thought who cares? Two fights later I'm in the semi-final thinking I have to win this- lost all my cool and was defeated 3-0.

What I want to say is that as long as you are not a professional fighter you shouldn't think to much about winning because that will make you tense and stupid but if you cultivate the nothing to lose attitude you will fight better. Especially with 5 months of training you shouldn't expect too much, learn to have fun while fighting


I disagree 100%

Imo if you strive to be mediocre you will be mediocre.

If you're ok with being mediocre then by all means be mediocre... helps others get ahead. That ideology will hold you back in other aspects of your life though.. I guarantee it.

On a similar note.
"I also subscribe to if you ain't first you're last" kinda thing. If you get second you have a lot of room to improve.. and better get on it as soon as possible. Also if you get first against a team or opponents that wasn't up to the task.. I still chalk it up as a disappointment and look towards the next game/comp. Iono.. its how I've been all my life and it hasn't done me wrong.. I only use sports as stress relief as well lol. Its not "taxing" to actually care about how you perform I promise...


Amiright I guess in general you are right, especially concerning training and preparation in this time you should be extremely self-critical but when competition day comes bashing yourself is not going to help you and being the more relaxed fighter is seldom a bad thing. At least that is my experience...

well I guess it is a thing of different mentalities or maybe it depends on whether you have an offensive or defensive style


Second place is First loser is a quote that springs into mind when reading your comment Amiright.
And although I do understand that mindset, I believe that even when you get defeated you can still pick up on things. In some aspects defeat will teach you more then a victory over an opponent who wasn't up to the task or an opponent with just a different style who got beaten because he didn't know something you used. (E.g. you use a lot of De La Riva guard and your opponent has not faced it a lot, you'll be able to catch him in things he didn't know but you will not learn mistakes you made on the mat)


Where at in KS do you train if you don't mind?

edit: nevermind. I looked at your profile and found out. I'll FB you.



Just stay loose and warm before they call your division. A lot of guys I know will run/walk laps around the venue to stay warm. You win some, you lose some but you gotta keep on rolling.



Thanks so much for all the encouragement, praise, advice and strategy. I will continue to work my ass off, implement most of the advice i've been given.

Drex. You crafty mother! See you in the gym fool!


how'd you do, as far as getting position, etc?

i agree, that weight class is prolly too high for you as well...

better luck next time-at least you'll have this to learn from.


Good for you.

Personal opinion, results at white belt are totally unimportant, the point is getting experience. The only division that really matters is Black Belt and or Open / Advanced. Winning a white belt division means that you are the best of the guys that know virtually nothing or you should have been promoted already.

Also, at white belt, weight class shouldn't matter a huge ammount. Cutting weight to get an advantage on another white belt just seems odd to me.

Important thing from this tournament is you have a couple of things to work on for the next one. You learn at least as much in defeat as you do in victory.