How Can BJJ Competition Make You Better?

How Can BJJ Competition Make You Better?

Tom DeBlass is no stranger to competition.  As a perennial competitor with IBJJF world titles, three ADCC appearances, a winning MMA record that includes fights for both the UFC and Bellator promotions, and many other superfight appearances, he has tested himself against some of the toughest opponents out there in the grappling world.

He is also an academy owner and the leader of his own BJJ association of nearly 20 schools, with an estimated 1500-2000 students around the globe.  He is well aware that the vast majority of his students do not compete.  It has been estimated that in most academies the number of competitors is probably not much more than 10% of the student population.  In this piece from Jiu Jitsu Times, Professor DeBlass talks about his thoughts on competition for his students.

For DeBlass, the decision to compete is a very personal one and should be a natural result of your love of the art of jiu jitsu.  Choosing not to compete does not make a practitioner or student any less valuable to their academy and will not hold them back in regards to promotions for DeBlass.  For him, competition must be something that a student wants to experience and should not be something that takes away from the joy they find in jiu jitsu.  

Everyone comes to jiu jitsu for their own reasons.  Many students use the art to relieve stress, get in better shape, or gain confidence.  There are as many goals that can be achieved through jiu jitsu as there are practitioners.  Learning to add the skill of the competition is something that DeBlass will encourage if the interest is there, but it is not something he requires.

But all this to say, Tom DeBlass believes that becoming a competitor requires a special commitment and there are a number of important lessons that competition can teach.  BJJ Fanatics caught up with Tom DeBlass recently and asked him what he thought were the most important things that competition can give you as a BJJ practitioner.  Here's what he had to say:

"Competing forces you to stay disciplined."

For DeBlass, once you've decided you want to be a competitor, you have separated yourself from who you were previously as a competitor.  One of the first lessons a competitor must learn is the importance of discipline and understand it's difference from motivation.  Motivation is something that is transitory and may inspire someone to do something or make a change, but it's not something that can be relied upon.  Instead as a competitor, the person must remain disciplined over all things.  There cannot be missed training sessions.  If diet is something that is to be focused on, then it must be focused on with 100% attention and intensity.

This means that there can be no deviations from the planned course of training.  DeBlass himself as a competitor, often tells the story of missing his grandfather's funeral because of an MMA fight.  As a competitor, he had made a commitment ot show up and give his best effort.  There was no way that he would expect his opponent to be concerned about his loss.  The discipline to stay the course and go on with the fight was the only way for him.

Therefore, for his team members who choose to be competitors, there can be no excuses.  There are no missed classes, missed training sessions, or missed rounds during training.  It is through this commitment and discipline that DeBlass believes is the only way victory can be achieved.  

"Competing forces you to work on weaknesses."

Signing up for your first competition is a great time to look at your game, examine the techniques that you like to do or gravitate towards and also look at the things that give you trouble.  One of the best things you can do is sit down with your instructor and coaches to discuss your BJJ and get their feedback on things that you can work on.  

By focusing on these things and striving to make improvements, you are guaranteeing yourself that regardless of the outcome of the competition, you are going to come away a better grappler.  This can be the single most rewarding aspects of competition, above and beyond any awards or medals.

"Competing forces you to work under uncomfortable situations."

It is important to increase the challenges you face leading up to the competition.  By forcing yourself to face uncomfortable situations, you begin to inoculate yourself to the stresses of competition.  This can be achieved by increasing the volume and intensity of your training sessions.  For DeBlass, it is important to suffer amongst your teammates to ensure that your time in the arena amongst your opponents is the easiest time you've had leading up to the competition.

Jiu Jitsu competition becomes another way for practitioners to challenge themselves, to step outside of their comfort zones and for Tom DeBlass, this can be integral to personal growth.  At the end of the day, setting new goals and challenges, working on your weaknesses and staying disciplined when things get uncomfortable will yield countless benefits for his students lives both on the mats and outside of the academy.  His goal is always to support their development in all of their endeavors, whether they compete or not.

One of the first things that most people work to address when they decide to compete is to work to improve their overall fitness, perhaps lose some weight and increase their BJJ stamina.  One of the best resources to achieve this goal is Tom DeBlass' 12 Weeks to Ripped program.  This simple, easy to follow program has helped BJJ practitioners around the globe lose thousands of pounds and get in the best shape of their lives.  Head over to BJJ Fanatics and get your own copy today!

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