My first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Competition
Competing at my first BJJ tournament as a 33-year old blue belt.
Last Saturday I participated in my first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) tournament at Submission Arts United Ottawa. I’ve been training BJJ for about four years but I never got into competing, preferring instead to spar with fellow teammates at the gym.
This year I wanted to change that for the following reasons:
- Overcome a skill plateau by forcing myself into a new and uncomfortable experience
- Learn the rules of BJJ competitions
Preparing for the competition
The first thing I did was to learn the rules of competitive BJJ. In a nutshell, a fighter scores points by who attacking and getting into better positions. A fighter wins by scoring the most points at the end of the round or by submitting their opponent (this video has a good summary of the rules if you’re interested).
With the rules in mind, I tried to unlearn a lot of bad habits that would lead to the opponent scoring more points. This included not scrambling to get back up on my feet when taken down or swept, not fighting for grips, etc.
To help everyone prepare for the competition, my coach ran several mock matches amongst teammates. I struggled with this as I kept giving points to my opponent, but it was a good way to force myself into a competitive mindset.
How it went
I was among five fighters in the Light Masters I division (155 to 168 lbs, 30 to 35 years old). I weighed in at 158 lbs that day, so I was on the lighter side of the division.
I was nervous going into my first match as I’d never fought in front of spectators. The match started off with my opponent scoring 2 points for a takedown. I managed to get him into a closed guard but wasn’t able to sweep or attack. Later I managed to score 2 points for passing his guard, but eventually I gassed out and he submitted me with a tight bow-and-arrow choke.
The second match went much better. I was looser and more comfortable from the start. When my opponent pulled guard, I quickly passed his guard for 2 points and immediately established side control. From there I worked on maintaining control by pinning his arm with his lapel. I moved on to the mounted position (getting me 4 more points) from which I attempted several submissions. Eventually I was able to submit him with an arm bar.
I finished the day with a 1W1L record, finishing in third place. Overall I was happy with the way the day went (though I couldn’t shake the mistakes I made in my first match 😅). My two opponents were both super cool dudes and I hope we cross paths again at future competitions!
The competition was a blast and I’m happy that I finally committed to participating in one. It was awesome to hang out with my teammates and see everyone fight.
I genuinely feel that I’ve improved a lot in the two months just from training for the competition. It was a nice motivator to keep showing up at the gym, putting in the work, and sparring more rounds every night. At the competition I picked up on several mistakes that I made that I now know need to be worked on. Finally, the competition made me think more about how I can be a better teammate by coaching and giving advice. I hope I can become as supportive as they were to me.
A big thank you to my coach Val and everyone at Mizu Studio. On to training for the next competition! Oss 🥋