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To Cut or Not to Cut.....Weight

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Weight loss is always a hot topic these days, whether you are talking about cutting weight for a competition or fight or just being bombarded by diet tips in everyday life. There are so many fad diets and ‘quick fixes’ being touted through the media, and there are just as many different ways that are claimed to be the best way to cut weight for a Jiu Jitsu tournament. If you are entering your first competition, looking for a different approach, or maybe just curious for future reference, let’s talk about that weight on your shoulders (and maybe in some other places)! 

First of all, what in the world is cutting weight? I’m glad you asked! A weight cut is usually focused around dropping weight quickly before a specific tournament by restricting food and fluid intake before you are weighed in so you can compete in a specific weight class. Usually an athlete will try to do this in order to have a size and power advantage over a naturally smaller opponent. However, unlike most fight sports such as MMA, Jiu Jitsu weigh ins are usually the same day and possibly even within the hour of your match. This is why cutting weight for boxers and cutting weight for jiujitieros is a somewhat different discussion. In a nutshell, you should do what you think will give you the best chances of winning are, to a certain extent, be that cutting weight, gaining weight or staying the same. If you are unsure then here are some arguments for all of those options: 

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Not to cut: 

If you are competing for the first time at a local level, then focus on your grappling and not your weight. Pick a weight class that you are in already and go learn the flow of a tournament instead of focusing on a body size advantage. This is especially true if you are planning on sticking to the local competition scene. Even as you progress in your Jiu Jitsu skills, unless you are working your way into the professional or high level tournament circle, then cutting weight is probably going to do you more harm than good. In all reality, for one main event putting yourself at that energy withdrawal in order to create a size and power advantage over your one opponent might be the small margin of difference you need to win, but if you are in a long tournament bracket then once you reach the final rounds then you will be too fatigued to fight well against other champions. Depleting your body of nutrients will stall your ability to maintain energy levels over a long period of time, so the same small margin that could allow you to win in a main event could cause you to crash in a longer tournament. 

Another big side of the weight cut for non-professionals is how it alters you in your daily life. The weight you are losing transfers as an onus you carry on your shoulders to your job, your family life, with your friends. If you are depleted of energy and nutrients then performance doesn’t just go down on the mats; your ability to complete tasks at work or home could also be affected. Changing your hormones, mood, and overall quality of life for a smaller tournament will honestly probably end up not being worth it for most people. 

Finally, we all know that Jiu Jitsu is just as much of a mental sport as it is a physical one; so the mental damage it can do to a person to focus on their body size and weight can be detrimental, especially younger grapplers. Forcing yourself into a specific weight bracket because you feel like you “should” be there could end up being emotionally and mentally damaging for certain individuals and should definitely be approached very carefully. Each person should understand the reasoning behind the overall desire to cut; this being the power advantage, and not that a specific weight is correct for all people of their size. 


Cutting Correctly: 


If you are someone that fights professionally and belong to the small population that should prepare their body for a match, then make sure to do it safely and with help from nutritionists, coaches and trainers. A lot of people recommend practice cuts before you have to do a real one to see how it affects your mood and training ability in order to prepare yourself for that mental block before a real competition. Knowing what you will be fighting through will help in pre event jitters if you know what to expect. Even in these scenarios, cutting weight is only usually recommended for day before weigh-ins, not the same day. Overall, a strong and clean diet in training is highly recommended so you are able to maintain a lean, high powered body in the first place so you are used to fighting at that size. If you need to cut weight as a higher belt for a professional or advanced tournament then do so by altering your liquid and healthy food intake slowly in order to maintain your metabolism for daily life. Small changes are ideal so you are able to avoid huge swings of hormones and energy levels that highly affect your performance and attitude. 

Learn the difference between the three macronutrients and how to manage them during training, as well as how to incorporate the various micronutrients that are essential. Incorporate a healthy ratio of carbohydrates, protein and fats no matter what. 


As a general rule, Jiu Jitsu is a fun and recreational sport for most people, so try not to put too much unnecessary emphasis on cutting weight for competition. Enjoy the atmosphere, and if you end up switching gears into the professional circle then worry about your ‘fighting weight’ at that point. Many of the fanatics fighters will go through weight cuts, and don’t hide it, but they are high level competitors under the eyes of many different trainers.

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