Do You REALLY Need to Compete in BJJ?

I have been teaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for WELL over a decade and during that time I have had the pleasure of having 12 or so students make it to Black Belt.  All of them have competed at some point in their Jiu JItsu Journey but few kept up to the demands of tournament competition.  Today I’ll discuss if you really have to compete in BJJ, why you might not have to and when you should probably stop competing.



The quick answer is NO, you do not have to compete but it would really be a shame if you didn’t.  I have competed at every belt level including Black and I can definitely say it’s worth it, even the losses (although those still suck).  I used to track how many tournaments I competed at and my win/loss record for many years.  I stopped tracking stats when I got to 100 matches, and that was when I was a Blue belt.  That was a huge part of my development, it showed me so many lessons each of which I could, and likely will, turn into an article, but reading about it will not give you the experience you could get from doing it.

I will add that this is not just a message to white belts.  I have been running BJJ Tournaments like the Mind Body Soul and The Submission Series for years and the White and Blue belts come out in droves… then it drops off pretty sharply.  I will admit it has gotten better in the last couple years.  The pools of Purple and Brown belts are growing and the tournaments are reflecting that somewhat.  But I know the percentage of higher belts in Alberta is not being reflected at the tournaments.

I can understand the desire to just roll for fun in the club with the guys/gals but this is not a substitute for tournaments.  Remember those lessons I mentioned I gained from competing?  I didn’t stop learning them at Blue belt.  I learned lessons at every belt from my competitions and the cool thing was, the more advanced my belt, the better the lesson and the faster I was able to apply it.

Jiu Jitsu might be in your heart but is it in your head?



There are a couple reasons why you might HAVE to compete in BJJ.  When I started doing BJJ in Edmonton there were not many places doing it and not many people training in class.  Going to tournaments was like extra training, that’s why I had gotten to 100 matches so quickly.  So if you are short on training partners, get ready to travel.

It is funny how many parents support my encouragement to have their kids compete, even the ones that might not be ready but when I ask adults if they are competing I get a multitude of excuses.  And I get it… I understand…  They are valid to a point.  I like watching my students compete because I get to see how they will react in a stressful situation.  The most important thing for me to see from my students is that they can protect themselves and I just go out and hire thugs to go “Test” my students now can I.  Tournaments are that test.

Now you might have great rolling ability on the mat in your club with your friends, but can you pull off that stuff when you have someone you don’t know trying to rip your arm off surrounded by a crowd of people yelling?  Ok I’m exaggerating a bit but you get the idea… Tournaments are a great way to test your skills and still do it in a safe way.  It will show you holes in your skills that your training partners might not have been able to capitalize on.


Now I don’t want to go out and discourage people from competing but there are some people that just do not do well in tournaments, and for a while I was one of them.  I went through a long, long, looong phase of being playful.  When I got my Purple belt I started exploring Jiu Jitsu to the furthest points of effortlessness that I could.  And while that was an awesome thing to do and experiment with, I would recommend saving that for non tournament times.

Several times throughout my training I will work my escapes.  Usually this is when I am injured (another great article idea) and covers a 3-6 month span.  I can attest that this mindset of letting people get you in bad positions so you can work your escapes is really good but not when you are competing.  Bad habits start to get formed if you train this too long.  You will get points racked up on you and by the time you realize what you have been doing wrong it’s likely too late.

So if you are in one of these phases either don’t compete or make sure you screw your head on straight leading up to the competition.

The Sweet Taste of Victory


At the end of the day , there are a lot of reasons why you shouldn’t compete and honestly there are a lot less for why you should but what you gain from competing can not be gained any other way.  Club rolling is not tournament rolling no matter how you try to make it.  So get out there and compete, just make sure you are ready to give your best.


If yFb 30 day trial profileou haven’t fallen in love with BJJ yet come down to Arashi Do Edmonton and try out one of our great programs like Muay Thai or Fundamental BJJ

All those and you get a 30 DAY FREE TRIAL!


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Building Self-Confidence Through Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Mestre Behring IBMSelf confidence can come through a number of different channels, one of which is discovering you are actually born with it. The truth is though, everybody is actually born with a plethora of positive traits, in their purest forms, one of which is self confidence indeed. The only thing which would deter anyone from displaying that self confidence is if it was stifled by the interactions they have with the environment around them, particularly other people they come into contact with.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is one of the best ways through which to restore any dormant self confidence, in anyone who has lost it, since everybody simply has a deep reserve of self confidence in them, amongst other positive traits that could have been stifled along with that self confidence.

In fact, building self-confidence through BJJ is one of the best ways through which to tap into that natural reserve of positive attributes which simply need reawakening, which is why a lot of budding combative artists choose to take up Jiu Jitsu for a number of reasons, one of which is indeed rediscovering their dormant self confidence.

In all likelihood, there was a recent or past incident which prompts the budding martial artist to have the kind of introspection that has them saying enough is enough, but they naturally do no know which is indeed the best method through which to regain or build the kind of self confidence that would have a positive influence on the overall or immediate quality of their lives.

But what is it exactly which makes Brazilian Jiu Jitsu one of the best self confidence builders?

It’s quite simple really — or at least in concept but it can prove to be very effective in practice as well.

BJJ is one of the most effective means through which one can defend themselves or hold they own very well in combat, as is discovered by those who take up Jiu Jitsu as their combative art of choice.

The participant need not necessarily be the very best mixed martial artist in their circle of competitors and compatriots — all they really need is the basic fundamentals which make them competitive enough to defend themselves successfully or at least compete at a reasonable level.

This breeds a kind of power which can be tapped into at anytime when the need arises, and in this way building self-confidence through BJJ proves to be one of the most effective ways to do so.

Although it has been mentioned that one need not necessarily be the very best mixed martial artists to successfully build their self confidence through BJJ, the very nature of practicing BJJ will require them to apply themselves in such a way that they become competitive and effective enough to acquire a set of skills that instills self confidence, in that they will naturally believe in their new-found abilities and lose the fear.

The self confidence spills over into different areas of the livelihood, subsequently, since the new-found ability to overcome nervous situations breeds even more confidence in other areas of one’s life.

Fb 30 day trial profileCome down to Arashi Do North Edmonton and try out one of our great Brazilian programs like Fundamental BJJ, Women’s Only BJJ or Children’s BJJ for ages 4-7 and 8-14.

All those and you get a 30 DAY FREE TRIAL!

Fighting Tips, Part 2

tim keeWhen it comes to applying technique, there are two sets of BRAZILIAN JIU-JITSU fighters: pattern fighters and adaptive fighters. A fighter who has a pattern will usually learn techniques, use them well, and transition with them well. Some BRAZILIAN JIU-JITSU fighters are great at this, but an adaptive fighter is one who may not just know the patterns but can adjust and adapt to the situation at hand. 

I understand it is always great to have a coach for support and technical guidance. But I think being an independent, adaptive BRAZILIAN JIU-JITSU fighter is of utmost importance and it is truly what leads you to understanding your game. Your coach is just there to help you along but should not always hold your hand.

Let’s look at it like birds. When a bird leaves its nest it has to spread its wings and fly on its own; it will be hard for another bird to simply carry it. You want to fly on your own. When it is your time to spread your wings, you should spread them your way. And when you are in mid-flight you may need to adjust your speed, distance, and height. If you are hurt or have a broken wing, you may have to adjust your path to survive. If your game is intelligent and you are a calm fighter, you will find the right movement. If your positions are not working and you run out of movements, you have to use what you do know to create something useful to advance your game.

You can also take a look at Russian wrestler Buvasaer Saitiev. He is a not a big, quick, or particularly strong athlete. He is a just an exceptionally technical athlete. He has competed in four Olympics and is a nine time World Champion (including three Olympic gold medals). I think this says something for his longevity and the type of athlete he is. He is a cerebral wrestler. He uses his mind and understanding of his technique to adapt and win. He is certainly tough in many ways, but what makes him so special is his wrestling skill coupled with his adaptive tendencies. He is present in his matches; when something difficult or complex happens against him, he reacts quickly and creates countering methods on the spot that turn into his offense.

When you tap someone during sparring, do not brag about the tap or tell your friends who you tapped. Often, this person wasn’t going 150% against you anyway because sparring in the gym is not a competition, so bragging that you ‘beat’ a guy who was going easy on you makes you look foolish and puts you in line to get a rude awakening later on. And don’t keep score every time you roll, people will get annoyed at this type of behavior—just have fun. 

Come down to Arashi Do and try out one of our great Brazilian programs like Fundamental BJJ, Women’s Only BJJ or Children’s BJJ for ages 4-7 and 8-14.  All those and you get a 30 DAY FREE TRIAL!  What are you waiting for?

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