Weight Cutting and BJJ
A tradition ever since, ever......
Cutting weight has been the bane of Combat Sports for a long time. It's a fairly simple process when you know what you're doing, but by no means is it an easy one. Whether you're cutting through a diet in order to lose fat or through a water cut to drop excess water weight, either method will be both physically and mentally grueling.
Cutting to lose fat is not much different from any other diet. By keeping track of and controlling your intake you can ensure that you burn more energy than you consume and thus loose some weight through fat loss. Of course in reality the process is much more complex than that, but the overall gist is just that. The water cut on the other hand is completely counter intuitive.
You're trying to drain your body of as much water as you can, but in order to do so you must first flood your body with too much water in order to trick it into letting go of one of it's most precious commodities. But intentionally causing dehydration on such extreme levels is very dangerous, and in many cases it's even led to death.
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So why do it? Well, in Combat Sports where you're engaging in a hand to hand battle with your opponent, being larger can be very advantageous. With size comes further reach, strength, leverage, even just being heavier can have an advantage in sports that include forms of grappling where you can make your opponent carry your weight from a top position.
But the days of gaining an advantage by cutting weight are long gone. In today's world basically everyone cuts weight. So instead of gaining an advantage you're really just getting yourself even with your opponent, and risking being at a disadvantage if you don't cut.
But there are also limits to where it's still worth doing. Fat loss through diet should always be done over longer periods of time. Doing it quickly will usually result in you being too drained to properly train, or even worse still drained at the time of competition. And water cuts done for an event with same day weigh ins can be very debilitating when there isn't enough time to rehydrate your body before you compete. So when should you cut water weight?
There are a few occasions when it's unfortunately necessary. But first and foremost, you should never cut weight without the guidance of an experienced professional. And Secondly, Kids should NEVER cut weight with either method. Cutting weight is dangerous to begin with, and on top of that it's the exact definition of NOT FUN.
And fun is what your kids should be having when they compete. If a child is legitimately overweight and has been put on a diet by their doctor, that is obviously fine and not the same thing as cutting weight. Cutting weight is done for a specific event, and there is no reason that a child should be doing that.
With that out of the way...... when do you want to cut water weight? The only consideration that must be made is whether or not you have enough time to PROPERLY rehydrate. That means getting your hydration levels back to a SAFE level before you compete. The extreme weight cuts that are done in MMA are done because weigh ins are the day before the event and fighters have upwards of 24 hours to rehydrate.
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For events like Wrestling and Jiu Jitsu Tournaments where weigh ins are the morning of the event, cutting water weight of more than a few pounds can be very debilitating to your performance because you won't be able to rehydrate before you compete. This will not only leave you drained of energy, you'll also be much more susceptible to injuries and severe cramps.
On top of that, many Jiu Jitsu Tournaments with Gi and NoGi will require you to weigh in before each division. Which means that if you did cut any water weight, you either wouldn't be able to rehydrate at all for you first division or risk not making weight for your second division.
All of that being said, if you're in your first year of Wrestling or if you're in the White Belt division of a Jiu Jitsu Tournament, then you shouldn't even worry about it. Just go out and have some fun. For Combat Sports that include striking, extra considerations for head trauma due to dehydration and a proper weight plan should be worked out well before the fight.
And if you're still wondering if you should be cutting weight, talk to your coaches. They should be able to let you know if it's necessary. Weight cutting is a grueling unnecessary part of Combat Sports, but until rules are changed among the various regulatory bodies, it's unfortunately something that will continue to be done.
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