BJJ WEIGHT DIVISIONS
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a highly strategic, and dynamic combat sport, which has gained significant popularity over the last two decades. The success of BJJ has paved the way for many Mixed Martial Artists to add submission grappling techniques to their arsenal. BJJ competition has also risen in notoriety, as highly accomplished grapplers like Gordon Ryan, and Andre Galvao are showcasing their prominent bjj systems. The international rise of No Gi grappling has become quite substantial, as its televised nature is reaching all corners of the globe. The popularity of the IBJJF, and the ADCC is giving an abundance of opportunities to many up and coming athletes from all cultural backgrounds.
Nowadays BJJ competitions have many different weight classes ranging from the rooster weight, all the way up to the ultra heavyweight. Different competitions have a different set of guidelines, where some follow the more traditional structure, others are breaking through with innovation for a new world of grappling. The addition of superfights into the BJJ world has been a success with organisations like Fight 2 Win, Who's Number One, Submission Underground, and Polaris raising the bar, and pitting world class grapplers against each other. There has also been an increasing popularity for team events like the Quintet, and Subversiv, where three to five grapplers battle for money, and bragging rights. It's a brave new world these days, with all of the BJJ divisions that athletes can contest in.
HOW TO ENTER A BJJ COMPETITION
Entering a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition has become extremely easy with today's current platform. The first step for a student is to create their own profile on smoothcomp.com. This platform is user friendly, and gives the student an avenue to many Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitions around the world. Once they have registered their affiliation, and completed their account on smoothcomp, the next step is to find a tournament to enter. Smoothcomp is a great platform that has tournaments in countries all around the world including ADCC qualifiers, and many IBJJF tournaments. Once the student has selected the competition they wish to enter, they must pick their divisions. They have a choice between Gi, and No Gi, their own weight class, or the absolute division, students must also pick the appropriate bjj age divisions. Children can also use this platform to enter many of the youth tournaments around the world, although they need a parent, or a guardian to sign off on the registration. Smoothcomp is a great platform, and offers features like live updates on match times throughout each competition. This is a revolutionary process that makes competing a lot easier then previous tournaments.
DIFFERENT BJJ DIVISIONS
There are many different BJJ divisions that are scheduled during any one tournament. All competitions usually start with the kids divisions first, and this is so the organisers, and the black belt referees can keep a close eye on all the children competing. This is also so that no adult competitors will sprawl over from one of their mats onto a mat where any children are competing, meaning safety for children is the number one priority. There are many bjj rules that are different for children compared to adult divisions, and once again this is for the safety of the child. Children's divisions are separated by age, rank, and weight class, and there are no absolute divisions for children. Sometimes in a children's division competition organisers maybe inclined to mix ranks, and put white, or grey belts together with yellow belts, and although this may not always be ideal for a parent who is enabling their child to compete, it is still a good experience for the child. One thing that parents can be rest assured, is that children are safe, and this is due to the highly professional referees that adjudicate all kids matches.
In the adults division, competition matches are also separated by rank, age, and weight class, as most athletes will pick competing in their own weight categories. In the IBJJF the weight divisions begin at rooster weight which is under 55 kilograms, the next division is light featherweight at 55 to 61 kilograms. The next division is featherweight which is 61 to 67 kilograms, and then lightweight at 67 to 73 kilograms. The next division is middleweight at 73 to 79 kilograms, then light heavyweight at 79 to 85 kilograms. The last three divisions are heavyweight at 85 to 91 kilograms, super heavyweight at 91 to 97 kilograms, and ultra heavyweight at above 97 kilograms. On top of all nine divisions in the Gi, and the No Gi divisions, each discipline has open weight divisions too, where students of any size will battle for the ultimate pound for pound victory.
PREPARING FOR BJJ COMPETITION
Training for competitive grappling is something that takes a lot of perseverance, and dedication. Competing on the mats is unlike rolling in the gym, and this is because winning competition means a lot to so many grapplers. There is always rivalry between different BJJ academies, and this fuels the competivness between their students. All competitors will look to finish their opponents with submission maneuvers, but due to the short time limits, they usually have to reside to winning by scoring points in bjj matches. Competitors can look to train specifically for this, as it is a huge part of the preparation process. Coming into a BJJ competition physically prepared is crucial to the success of the athlete.
Athletes should look to treat an upcoming BJJ competition like they were fighting in an MMA event. This means setting themselves up for a fight camp, where they can put in extremely hard work at least eight weeks out from the comp. The last two weeks is when the athlete should taper off the workload a little bit, before having a relaxing last week. The best lead up to a competition should include strength and conditioning, cardio workouts, and high intensity rolling sessions. Students can even shark tank, which is when they run the bjj gauntlet against several other opponents to lift their intensity, and put them under significant pressure. Doing this will simulate how an actual BJJ competition will go, as quite often a student that wins the division has to fight six or seven matches in a short period of time. It is also important to keep up with mobility exercise, and this is a great way to prevent injuries, and give the athlete a greater ability to execute techniques, and defend their opponents.
Sometimes students can psych themselves out in the lead up to a BJJ competition, as the mental preparation for a tournament can be quite nerve racking. The worst thing that a student can do is look up their opponents on social media, and try to engage who they are going to fight. When a student finds out they are fighting an accomplished competition grappler who has won a lot of gold medals, it can make a student begin to doubt themself. What all students need to know is that a BJJ match is a 50/50 split, and anyone can win no matter their size, speed, strength, or skill. This is where preparation comes into the forefront, as students should be building mental fortitude, and being able to fight anyone, anywhere, at any time. Some students will stand back in their academy, and idolise the black belts rolling on the mats. For students that want to succeed in competition, they should not be sitting back, instead they should be putting themself right in the thick of it, and learning how to deal with high level practitioners. This is how a student can prepare for the mental battle that is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN BJJ COMPETITION
Achieving success in a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament can be extremely hard. In every division there is only one winner, every other competitor will lose. This makes it extremely hard for students to achieve success with such a small window available. Achieving on the competition mats comes down to mindset, game plan, and execution. Having the right mindset to be a competitive grappler means the student has to eat, drink, breathe, and sleep Jiu Jitsu. When they are training they should be putting in 110%, and when they are not training they should be studying the art. All students will need rest periods, and mental breaks, but they still need to dedicate themself to the process. This will include knowing what to eat before jiu jitsu, because nutrition, and calorie intake is extremely important for competitive athletes. The process also includes staying motivated, and not allowing themself to take a backward step just because things did not go right. Students need to remain confident, but not egotistical, because there is a difference, and being confident in their own abilities is how they can trust in their own process.
Understanding how to develop a good game plan for a student is vital to competition success. A game plan needs to be built entirely off of transition, and a student needs to know their BJJ identity to correctly interpret their best qualities. Whether a student is a guard player, or a top game specialist, developing how they can best redirect their purpose is the end goal. Students need to develop their flow chains, like having a go to pass like the knee cut, and then linking it up to control positions, and then redirecting their movements into submissions like the head arm choke, the far side armbar, or the north south choke. There is a never ending series of maneuvers that students can work into their game plans, but the most important aspect of all is how they engage their opponent. There is no use having all these plans in place if they are going to lose the first few moments of the battle. This means if they are a top game player they need to execute dominant grips, and get the fight to the mat, and into their advantage. If they are a guard player then securing grips straight away is important, so they can put their opponent under threat of sweeps, or submissions, which can stifle their attack from the beginning.
Students can have the right mindset, the perfect lead up in their training, with an expert game plan, and still fall short of winning a tournament. The final ingredient to making a successful appearance at a BJJ tournament is execution. It's no good having all the dominoes fall into place in the moment, and fail to execute technical proficiency. A good BJJ opponent will not give a student any second chances, with this in mind students need to be perfect, and hit their timing and execution with fluency. There will always be moments in a BJJ match where there is a scramble, and both competitors will have an opportunity to take the advantage. These are the moments that students need to win, because there are only a certain amount of opportunities to take control of an opponent in a tournament match.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD AN ATHLETE COMPETE
Nowadays there are Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitions every weekend. Some students will become extremely obsessed with BJJ, as they look to compete almost every weekend. This is all good if the student is winning these competitions, because they can get on a roll as they start to build up towards winning the World Championships. Moving into a highly prestigious tournament like the worlds, would take expertise, continuity, and repetition on the competition mats. Students that do not win need to go back to their academies, and work on how they lost, because all losses in BJJ is a chance to learn a valuable lesson. Students that decide to compete again one week after losing will miss out on the valuable lesson that can help them progress. In an ideal world a student should be spending two months preparing for a BJJ competition, meaning that six competitions per year is a good target to aim for.
Students need time to recover from a competition, time to have a mental break from training, and then time spent ironing out their mistakes. This means that competing in more than one competition per month can be detrimental to the student. Exceeding twelve competitions per year is not a good idea, especially when considering how much work goes into preparing for competition. Students should look at the competition schedule at the start of the year, and mark off four to six competitions they want to compete at, and train accordingly. If they set this kind of goal then along the way they can see how they are travelling, as they may wish to add a few extra tournaments into their schedule. This is the best way to achieve bigger goals like winning ADCC, or the World Championships.
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