First BJJ Competition: 5 Tips to Smash Your Competition

BJJ competitions are a great way to test your BJJ skills against an evenly matched opponent.

Your first BJJ competition will be a nerve-racking experience, so you must do as much as you can to prepare correctly and minimize your nerves.

In this post, we discuss some simple things you can implement in the build-up to your first BJJ competition, to minimize anxiety, and increase your athletic performance.


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Train in a Competition Mindset

If you are going to compete in BJJ, you need to train accordingly. The level of intensity and aggression in a competition far surpasses anything you will have experienced in the gym.

Try to attend as many classes as possible during your competition preparation.

Competition classes are great as they compare you for intensity and are more competitive than traditional sparring in the gym.

Recovery in the build-up to the competition is as important as training. Set yourself a clear training schedule and plan to peak the week of competition.

Don’t Weight Cut

Weight loss and weight-cutting are very different things. Weight-cutting consists of dehydrating the body to make weight for a fight.

Although this enables you to compete in a lower weight class, your body needs sufficient time to rehydrate to perform effectively.

BJJ competitions are same-day weigh-ins. Performing a weight cut could leave you dehydrated during your competition.

For your first BJJ competition, you should always fight at your natural weight to minimise the chance of dehydration and prevent injuries. There is enough stress surrounding your first competition without worrying about making weight.

For your first competition just fight at your natural weight. If you do need to drop a weight class, lose weight slowly with a combat specific exercise & nutrition plan.

Recreate your competition environment

You want to recreate the competition environment whenever possible in the gym. An unfamiliar environment can lead to stress and decreased performance.

An example of this would be how grappling in front of friends and family for the first time can add to the pressure of the fight.

One way to reduce this pressure would be to invite friends to watch you roll in the gym.

Below of some more examples that you could recreate in the gym:

  • Sparring with higher intensity
  • Train with partners the same weight as you
  • Sparring using the competition ruleset
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Strength & Conditioning

BJJ is a physically demanding sport. At white belt, when the technique is evenly matched the result is often determined by conditioning. It’s not uncommon to see a grappler winning on points, but then lose to a less skilled opponent due to fatigue.

Running a basic strength and conditioning program alongside your training will both increase athletic performance and reduce injuries.

Make sure you know the rules

BJJ is one of the only sports where the ruleset changes depending on the competition organiser.

Certain grips, positions and submissions that are commonly used in the gym are illegal at white belt. IBJJF is the most common ruleset, but in recent years submission-only & EBI has become more common.

Make sure you familiarise yourself with the rules and referee’s commands.

You don’t want to prepare for weeks only to be DQ’d for something that’s easily avoidable. Check out the IBJJF rules are here.

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Try to implement some of the suggestions above to help you prepare for your first BJJ competition.

Remember to enjoy yourself! Competing should be a fun time to test your skills against opponents who are at a similar level to yourself. There’s no doubt that competing will help you grow as a fighter, you will identify areas that you should work on.

There is no losing in your first Jiu-Jitsu competition, you either win or learn.

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Gareth Davies

I'm a martial arts competitor and enthusiast. Over the last 15 years, I have trained and competed in several martial arts. I live in Manchester U.K working as a strength & conditioning coach when I'm not travelling and exploring martial arts around the world.
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