The Spark of Competing
Competition talk around the gym can ignite a spark in you you didn’t expect. When I started BJJ I didn’t go into it with the goal of competing. I simply wanted to be more physical than I had been in the past and I wanted to learn the intricate details of grappling because it intrigued me.
When my teammates would sign up for a competition I was excited for them, I’d watch them work hard and roll even harder and I just felt I wasn’t conditioned for that. It was enough for me to wish them well and cheer them on.
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I attended my first competition as a spectator to support some of my teammates who had entered. Being there was so exciting! The energy at the venue was amazing! It made me feel like I wanted to get on the mats! So this was competition.
I had a great time watching everyone get ready for their match. The excitement of their names being called, waiting for their turn to get in the center of the mat and face their opponents. How that must feel. I could at that time only imagine.
It was a long but very eventful day for me and all I did was watch. How this must have felt for the participates who actually put it all out there and did what they had to do. Win or lose the excitement had to be a million times more enhanced than my excitement as an onlooker.
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My teammates who competed and my coaches who were there took a photo at the end of competition. Medals around their necks and smiles across their faces for a job so very well done. I was standing there watching and waiting for them to line up and have their time to shine when my coach called me over to be a part of the photo. I remember saying but I just came for support to which he replied “I know and it was much appreciated”.
Being there for my teammates was something I did without really thinking about it. I love watching Jiu Jitsu matches and seeing my friends compete was a blast, that’s all I knew. Being a part of that photo was my pleasure. To be included with such amazing people who were willing to put their hard work on display was an honor.
I didn’t compete that day but that day got me to thinking…could I compete?? Should I compete? What have I got to lose. I didn’t know if I had it in me to train for competition so I brought it up to my coach and he told me he thought I should consider it. Everyone thought I should consider it. I still had my doubts but you know, You only live once and I felt I needed to give myself a chance to step a bit further out of my comfort zone.
I signed up for the next competition that became available and got to work! I was a 3 stripe white belt in a Masters category at 127 lbs. Gi and No Gi. Not a lot of women who are 55 years old sign up for competition so my opponents were 2 younger women and 1 a bit closer to my age. Oh well no turning back now.
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So with some of my children and my granddaughter there to cheer me on I waited. Soon enough I heard my name announced and off I went. I stepped on the mat for my first Gi match of the day. I heard my coaches on the sideline advising me to break grips and posture up and as much as I tried to follow their well intended coaching, I just couldn’t pull off the win. I lost both Gi matches but I gave it everything I had.
I walked proudly off the mats and took off my Gi and sat for a minute. Soon I started to
feel strange. I thought I was going to be sick, my head was spinning, I felt nauseous and I was shaking. There’s no way I’m going to be able to do my No Gi matches.. I went down to talk to my coach to ask him what would happen if I didn’t do the No Gi matches,? he said he wouldn’t be mad and he was proud of what I did but to take a minute and grab a snack. Most likely it was an adrenaline rush I never experienced before and it would pass. The way I felt, I had my doubts.
I sat and I rested. Soon enough they called my name for the No Gi portion of my day. I had to go. I couldn’t not go. It wouldn’t be fair to my opponent who was waiting, so off I went.
After my 1st No Gi match…I felt great! It was strange that I felt as good as I did after feeling as bad as I did. Even though I didn’t fare so well in that match I was ready for another!! My last No Go match was my best match. I lost it too but I felt I improved. This competition thing is fun I thought!
I’m glad I believed in myself enough to put MY hard work out there and give it everything I had in ME! If you train Jiu Jitsu, you owe it to yourself to compete at least once. Don’t settle for wondering what it’s like or being a spectator in the stands. Get out there and feel that adrenaline rush and be amazed at how you do against your will to survive. Also believe your coach. He’s most likely been there a time or two.