Why Do You Compete?

I think this is another one of those, “I think I have talked about this before, but I’m going to talk about it again”. And if I haven’t, then it’s new material, hooray!

On our American nationals trip, Saulo asked us in a sort of rhetorical fashion why we compete. I have to admit in the beginning, for a time I competed because I felt external pressure when we had a different instructor at our academy, and much less due to my own volition.

Then, for a short while, it was a determination to face my fear of competition, to not let my fear hold me back. In my past I have also had some unpleasant experiences with sore losers and sore winners- people who pouted and were angry even when they were winning, because they weren’t winning enough, if that makes any sort of sense. I have always been someone that wanted to keep the peace; I reasoned I wanted to rock the boat as little as possible, couldn’t upset anyone if I didn’t play into the game.

So, taking all of that into consideration, I had in a lot of ways become afraid of competition, because it meant upsetting someone by either winning or losing- I was screwed either way. However in that act of defiance I could already feel something laying at the bottom of all that emotional baggage; a true desire to compete. Not so much winning or losing- of course everyone wants to win- but a honest desire to take everything I have and put my skills and will up against another person.

So, now we’ve come to another stage, where I go to these tournaments because I honestly want to, and I think it has been the support of my team that has really made me feel comfortable in pursuing that desire for competition. I feel that decision to not run from my fears has been “the road less traveled”, and I truly believe it has made all the difference.

So why do you compete; and if not, why?


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5 responses to “Why Do You Compete?

  1. I don’t compete in BJJ. I used to compete in karate many years ago and I am not against competition in general. But I do find that it is sometimes hard for people who are training for a big event to be good, helpful partners in class. They are too focused on their own game and will sometimes go too hard or not care about the other person’s development. Not everyone, just some. For me I am enjoying just learning jiu-jitsu without the pressure of a looming competition. I am not saying I will never compete, it just isn’t for me right now.

  2. Thanks for the great post. I really enjoy reading about other people’s experience and perspective when it comes to BJJ competition. I’m not a very competitive person, so the competition aspect of BJJ never really appealed to me. Thankfully we have a good mix of competitors and non-competitors at the academy (if I did want to start competing regularly), along with a great instructor who doesn’t push people to enter tournaments (but is fully supportive and accommodating to those who do). With that said, in all of the reading I’ve done about BJJ competition, two things really stand out:

    1) It’s a personal choice (meaning you should never feel pressured or obligated to compete – especially if you find no fun or joy from it) and,
    2) You should try it at least once.

    I pushed the fears aside and did try it once. It was an OK experience, but not something I could say I really enjoyed. However, by trying it once, I set the stage for doing it again – if I choose to. And if not, I’ll continue to train, learn and do my best to help prepare my teammates who are competing.

  3. Leaahh

    I compete because I want to win. I want to be indisputably, undeniably the best, and competition is the means to that end. It also gives me something to work for in BJJ; more than just training, I’m training FOR something.

  4. Lex

    The pressure to compete and do well can be immense, as you said, depending on the coach. But that’s one of the reasons I enjoy it: where else do you get a chance to practice dealing with stress, pressure, and fear without any “real” consequences if you fail. I view competition as practice for real life.

  5. I was going to be long winded about my response but it comes down to the fact that I just really enjoy it. I enjoy the journey of getting prepared all the way through the happiness of sharing triumphs with my teammates. I just love it. Period.

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