For anyone that has competed (in anything) before, you know that competition can be stressful. It's no different for BJJ. You've trained super hard, you paid (probably) over $100 for the entry fee, you've cut weight and you might have even traveled far away for the competition. The day is here and now it's just you and your opponent standing across from each other. You don't want to mess this up!
Now let's take a look at the facts, one person is going to win and the other is going to lose. Either way, competing is a valuable learning experience. CSW Instructor and MMA veteran, Erik Paulson went so far as to say:
"One competition gives you up to six months or a year’s worth of extra training, ideas, and insight."
I could go on and on about the benefits of competition, but today I want to talk about the FIVE worst things you can do at a BJJ tournament:
#5 Get DQ'd for doing an illegal move.
I see this happen at every tournament. Sometimes an athlete will do it knowingly when he's way down on points. To preserve his ego he would rather lose by DQ than by letting his opponent beat him. "Man I subbed him, but... the stupid rules!" Lol. Other times, the athlete really has no idea that the move was illegal. This is so unfortunate. Do you blame the athlete or the athlete's instructor? If you spend all the time and money to compete, you should know the rules. Do yourself a favor and go get the IBJJF rulebook. It's free. Finally, sometimes, unfortunately an athlete accidentally does an illegal move (most often it's knee reaping these days). Watch a video explaining knee reaping here. Reaping can almost always be avoided. Train with competition in mind. When going for ankle locks or kneebars, be mindful of where your feet are relative to your opponents body.
Don't do this!
#4 Get DQ'd for having an illegal gi.
A lot has changed over the past few years in regards to IBJJF competitions. Many things have become standardized and the uniform is one of those. It makes a lot of sense. You don't want guys wearing gis with super thick collars that make them "unchokable" You also don't want paper thin gis that rip and cause a stop in the action. For a complete list of what's approved and what's not, just head over to the IBJJF site and download the free rulebook. Suffice to say, there are rules on the material, the fit, patch placement, and color of gi. While it's cool to have a unique gi, do we really want to see this at the Worlds? (No offense Happy Kimonos!)
#3 Get DQ'd for not making weight.
Cutting weight is not fun. Especially if it's your first time doing it. Don't cut it too close, you only get one chance to weigh in! Remember, not every scale is the same. I always go one lb under, just in case.
#2 Get DQ'd for missing your match.
Yes I've seen it happen and it's so sad! All the time, money, weight cutting and emotion that goes into planing to compete and you didn't even get to weigh in! Here's the thing. There are sometimes over 3,000 competitors at a large tournament. That's a lot of people to organize. Sometimes schedules change (as matches can go longer or shorter than expected). The start times that the IBJJF posts are just estimates. Make sure to keep an eye on the schedule and check it often.
#1 Get injured.
Yes, getting dq'd or missing your match really sucks but the only thing worse than that is getting injured. Not only does that (usually) knock you out of the match, but it also affects your training thereafter. Some high level guys will risk injury to get a victory in competition, as a gold medal means that much to them. I would discourage you lower belts from following this strategy however. As world champ Guilherme Mendes told me:
"Everything you do before black belt is just training. Lower belts need to go and compete and try to have fun."
Don't let this be you!
So there you have it, the 5 worst things you can do at a tournament. What do you think, do you have any more to add to the list? Let me know in the comments section below.