Is Cutting Weight For a Tournament Right For Me?
Ideas on cutting weight for the Jiu Jitsu athlete...
I know. It is a bold choice to discuss cutting weight the day before Thanksgiving. But here we go…
Weight cutting is a common practice in combat sports. There are times when the battle waged on the body to cut weight is harder than the actual fight. Many are quick to critique fighters for missing weight but few understand the actual struggle associated with weight cuts. Beyond that, if done incorrectly it is dangerous. There have been many examples of athletes dying because of a botched weight cut.
An exploration on if weight cutting is advantageous or not is a subject for a different article. However, I’ll touch on it briefly here. In MMA, Daniel Cormier cut weight to become the Light Heavy Weight Champion. However, when the opportunity arose to fight for the Heavy Weight Belt, he won that belt also. Daniel Cormier is 5 foot 11 inches. In theory, he could fight at Welter Weight. However, having a comparative size and strength advantage does not seem to be a factor in his greatness. While being stronger and bigger is an advantage, I would argue it is also important for your game plan that you match your body type. Marcelo Garcia, arguably one of the greatest grapples of all time, is a prime example of this. He weight is listed at 154 pounds. In tournaments, he fought at – 77KG and -82KG which equal 169.756 and 180.779 pounds respectively. Yet, despite his smaller size, he routinely won those divisions and even the absolute division in many cases.
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Weight cutting is different for Jiu Jitsu than MMA because of when the weight ins happen. In MMA, fighters weigh in the day before. This gives them 24 hours for recovery. Jiu Jitsu tournaments have different weigh in schedules. However, IBJJF tournaments typically weight in 15 minutes before a bout happens. This gives fighters no time to recover from the fluid restrictions, sweating, bowel empting, and diuretics often used in cutting weight. Even if your weigh ins are the night before, there are still some disadvantages of cutting weight. First, you may not have the energy to train hard in the days leading up to the tournament. Your performance may be sluggish in end of the first match and may be unable to fight additional matches. Last, your experience will be likely being miserable.
For new competitors, managing the weight cut and managing the stress associated with a tournament may be an unnecessary challenge. New competitors already have a significant battle with the stress of a tournament. Adding the complexity of a weight cut may be an unrealistic goal for someone who has not competed.
Instead of cutting weight for a tournament, I would suggest working on your weight all of the time. There are several reasons for this. First, it makes more sense to enjoy the benefits, that being in great shape brings to your life, all the time rather than for a day at a Jiu Jitsu tournament. Second, as we already discussed, you will most likely enjoy the tournament more. Third, you are likely to see a higher rate of return in your performance if effort is put into this daily rather than the weeks or even the month leading up to a tournament.
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