Tag Archives: Jiu jitsu tournaments

Competing in Jiu Jitsu is About More Than Just Medals

Sure, medals are nice, but a focus on simply winning can sometimes end up hurting more than helping.

Black belt Mike Muscemi recently talks about this in an instagram post. It’s kind of a lengthy post, but here’s an edited version of it:

“Something I want to talk about is that I think people put too much emphasis on is winning worlds and a gold medal. This goal is a great as a motivation to work hard and to improve your jiu jitsu, but when it becomes everything to you, you lose a lot more than you gain from winning. When I won my first black belt worlds in 2017 I went into a depression….The next 2 years I would go on to win the black belt worlds again. But now my mindset is completely different. No, I am not competing for a medal, I am competing for myself. The medal is just recognition of the amount of hard work and effort I put into this. An object does not bring you happiness. Just like materialistic people, things don’t bring them happiness. Don’t look for happiness through things!”

Don’t get me wrong, winning a medal in a jiu jitsu tournament is great- it feels immensely gratifying to stand on a podium and be recognized for your hard work, for the time and effort you put into this moment. And that absolutely should be recognized and respected.

But sometimes an obsession with simply winning can lead to unhealthy behaviors on and off the mat. On the mat can lead to a weird mentality of not expanding and trying new things to develop and expand your skills, or during some tournaments it may lead to a lot of stalling and missing opportunities to do some really cool stuff, because at some point an obsession with winning also became a fear of losing- and that fear can really limit you as a jiu jitsu player. Jiu jitsu is about learning, growing, evolving as time goes on. It’s hard to do that if you are stubbornly refusing to allow yourself to be vulnerable and put yourself in places that may not be your “A” game.

Off the mat, there could be a wild imbalance to your life- shirking responsibilities, avoiding relationships that would require you to balance your time off the mat vs on- and while there are no immediate, drastically detrimental consequences (usually) from this behavior, at some point I would think you would look back with at least a small amount of regret at the missed opportunity to develop the other points of your life. Trips that you could have taken, friendships that you let slip away because you were so focused on just training and competing. After some time it all begins to add up.

But, back to the competition bit- also keep in mind that winning a medal more often than not really doesn’t change much. Unless you’re someone that’s depending on a sponsorship, there’s no guarantee that a medal will change much of anything. You won’t suddenly get a new belt, you’ll still have the same responsibilities that you had before the tournament- not too much changes, I’m afraid.

It’s one of the reasons why I don’t typically dwell too long on the performance at a tournament, win or lose. Granted if I win I am excited for that day, and if I lose I try to analyze what went wrong as an opportunity to do better, but I also view tournaments as simply snapshots in my jiu jitsu “adventure”- I appreciate the moment for what it is, and then start looking forward to the next one. I’m not sure if that would work for everyone, but hey, it helps me sleep at night and keeps me on the mat, ready and willing to learn and train more.

So, in short you should absolutely compete: even if you don’t think you’re a competitor you should at least try to step out on the mat and give it a shot at least once (or a few times) before deciding one way or another. But keep in mind there is more to just competing than winning a medal- it’s about stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying your best to use your game and skills against someone who is also trying to do the same.

That’s all for now- have a great day everyone!


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You Can Compete Against Someone and Still be Friends with Them

I think this is something we all know, but not really something we talk about in jiu jitsu. I’ve had conversations with other jiu jitsu women where this is sometimes the elephant in the room that’s danced around, and I think that it’s time we explicitly state it.

You can compete against someone and still not only have the upmost respect for that person, but you can in fact be friends with them.


There are plenty of other women in the jiu jitsu community that I have competed against, and regardless of winning or losing I am always thrilled to see them at the next tournament. And they seem pretty happy to see me as well! We chat, talk about how things are going, so on and so forth.

While the sport is growing in popularity, it is still relatively a small sport. Particularly as you gain more rank, you’ll see more and more of the same faces at tournaments, the same people standing across from you to shake your hand to start a match, the same smiles on the podium as you sit there and wait for that one guy to get out of the photographer’s way so you can just take the damn picture… It seems kind of silly to see someone a bajillion times (granted, at one specific function, but still), and not at the very least exchange a few pleasantries.

Anyway, my point being that there are times where it seems to be a bit awkward: you’re not sure if someone is willing to extend their hand in friendship after a match. And some won’t, if we’re being totally honest. But more often than not they will, and to me that’s also part of what competing is all about: of course the main purpose is to step on the mat and do your best with the intent of winning, but win or lose it’s also about meeting new people and having a chance to connect with other people in the sport.

Just some thoughts for today: have a great day everyone!


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Tap Cancer Out Tournament

This pas weekend our team did a fantastic job competing at the Tap Cancer Out tournament, an even all about raising funds for cancer research organizations- and hey, you get to choke people out. It’s a win-win!

Our team went out there and did a fantastic job. Win or lose, everyone tried their hardest and worked their techniques as best they could. Which is really all anyone could ask for.

The Tap Canter Out organization holds events across the country, and it was a very nicely run event- on time, and they go by IBJF rules, so I would say check to see if one is in your area and give it a try.

Have a great day everyone!

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New Traditions for IBJJF Tournaments

So, Worlds happened this weekend and to be perfectly honest I only managed to catch one fight, the finals match between Keenan Cornelius and Paulo Miyao. Which granted, I’m sure there were tons of matches I should have watched but it was gratifying to see one of the Miyaos win after watching Cornelius defeat the brothers at Pans.

And can we talk about something, Internet? The IBJJF had some new traditions and things they are putting into place. Take this, for instance:


Maybe it’s due to my involvement with musical and “straight” theater in high school and college, but when I first saw this at Pans I was definitely expecting these guys to break out into a choreographed dance number, a la “West Side Story”, finger snaps and all. I’m not mocking anyone, it’s just the first thing that came to mind. You have to admit that’s a great mental image though.

And now they are starting a tradition in which those who place, at least at Worlds, are required to hold up flowers when posing on the podium. Which is nice, I guess, but I feel a little unnecessary. I don’t know what the organizers thought this would achieve, I’m sure there’s something on the IBJJF website and I just missed it.

There’s no denying the tournament is growing and getting better in a lot of ways, I just wish they had directed their attention to other matters to improve. And for those who have competed in their tournaments I’m sure you have your own suggestions because we’re human and that’s just what we do: take what we enjoy and find ways we can improve them.

All right, that’s the end of my rambling, go out and have a great day everyone!


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Weekend Wrap Up

Hey everyone, due to obligations all this weekend I wasn’t able to train or keep up to date with tourneys like Copa Podio. I heard Xande won, so hooray for Ribeiro Jiu Jitsu! Other than that…I got nothin’. Heard the Mayweather fight was pretty lackluster, and saw some photos from the IBJJF Dallas Open, which looked pretty good.

Hope everyone else’s weekend was fun/interesting/not boring or sucky. Anyone watch the Copa Podio? How was it?

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New York Open 2013 Results

Our guys fought hard, a couple came away with medals, a couple got banged up and one got head butted in the nose. :-/ But, among our competitors was Maggie’s dad, mike: go Mike!


The only brown belt females that fought were in the masters and registration closed before I could attempt to be the youngest master’s division competitor at the tournament. I don’t know: I just didn’t see the tournament coordinators bending the rules for an adult to fight masters AND after the tournament’s registration had closed- but I did have a chance to chat with Jen Flannery and we talked about coordinating registration for future tournaments. I imagine this will turn into something like a phone tree, but, you know…not.

Other than that, I just checked the tournament results and the top teams were Alliance at 309 points, Renzo Gracie at 212 and Gracie Barra at 109. For anyone who’s interested in that sort of thing.

Oh, and can someone solve this for me? There is a brown belt Gracie Barra guy who has fantastic hair. I see him at tournaments all the time, and it just never seems the appropriate venue to compliment a dude’s hair. Anyone have any idea?

UPDATE: mystery solved. It’s AJ Agazarm. Apparently he’s making all the right moves on the Jiu jitsu mat, and wherever he buys his styling products. Trust me, as someone with long curly hair, it’s not easy to find the right hair stuff.

Ok, I think I’m done talking about hair.

Also, while we’re at it, the hippy-Jesus guy who is always at the west coast Jiu jitsu tournaments, if anyone knows his name as well. I feel like I should know that guy’s actual name, and stop referring to him as “Hippy Jesus”.

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Boston Open Registration

For anyone who is going, registration for the event just jumped from $95 to $110 from now until the registration deadline, February 23rd.

Also, I just realized if the ibjjf could put all their events on something like a google calendar along with registration deadlines that could be synched up with everyone’s personal calendars to send them personal reminders, that would be awesome.

That is all.

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