WHAT IS A WALKOVER IN BJJ?
Competing as a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Martial Artist has its own series of trials, and triumphs. The whole process can be extremely frustrating, but the prize at the end of the tournament can be more than worth the endurance. Most athletes dream about standing in the middle of the podium wearing a world championship title around their neck, but this dream is only achieved by a small handful of dedicated competitors. Getting to the podium, and being successful comes with some extreme hard work, dedication, and perseverance to the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Showing consistency on the mats, and going through the training process is how an athlete can become world class level. Most students will need to know what is open mat bjj so they can comprehensively work on their practical application of rolling. These are the types of sessions where students can push their pace, and work on their rolling cardio, which will benefit them exponentially in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition.
What this article covers:
- Training for BJJ Competition
- The Competition Process
- What Is a Walkover
- Can a Walkover Be a Strategy for Winning Competition
- Why Do Athletes Pull out Of Competition Matches
TRAINING FOR BJJ COMPETITION
Preparing for a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition takes hard work, and consistency on the mats, and some serious strategising in order to come up with the right game plan. Athletes should be looking to start preparing at least eight weeks before a competition, and this is how they will get enough high intensity training in, so they can push their cardio to the limit it needs to be at. Training in bjj for smaller guys is different then the bigger guys training, as they can have vastly different game styles. Each athlete needs to prepare their own individual game plans, so it pays to find a training partner that has similar goals to the athlete. Finding training partners that are the same weight as an athlete will help them to prepare for their upcoming competitions, of course there is always the absolute division where they might face a heavier, or even a smaller opponent, but in most cases athletes are trying to square off in their own weight classes, against athletes of the same size, and strength.
Rolling with intensity is great for an athlete's physical conditioning, and competition cardio, which is extremely important heading into a competition. Subsequently not all training should be rolls to the submission, as athletes are constantly needing to set goals in order to master the different aspects of the Jiu Jitsu game. This type of training involves two training partner's purely just trying to pass the guard, and work on guard retention at the same time, and as a drill this can be quite beneficial to both students. This can also be done with takedowns, as each training partner will try to take the other one down to the mat, only to reset once the take down has been achieved. These types of drills are highly beneficial to a student in preparation for competition, as they can begin to master the more hidden components of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It can also be important to roll against athletes that are at a higher level, as this is a good way to work on their positional, and submission defenses. It is also important to roll with students at a lower belt level, and this is so they can practise, and execute all of their flow chains, and their technical aspects within their game style.
Mindset is half the battle when it comes to training for a BJJ competition, as students will need to prepare mentally for facing off against multiple opponents. Understanding the physical draining, and the mental demand that a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition has on a student, these athletes will need to be prepared, and come in ready to go. Having a strong mindset means a student needs to believe in themself, and their game style, as confidence breeds success. Competing in bjj against bigger opponents can be extremely daunting, but It doesn't matter how big, or how good an opponent is, as each matchup is a fifty fifty chance that any competitor can win in the heat of the moment. It really does come down to who is ready for the competition, and who is more technically efficient in that vital moment.
THE COMPETITION PROCESS
The process of competing can be nerve racking, and daunting for many students. Just the thought of having to fight against multiple opponents in a short period of time can put a lot of stress onto a student. This type of stress can lead to sickness, and injuries before a competition has even begun. Usually students will be careful what they eat in the lead up to a competition, as they will have to weigh in before their match at a specific weight. All competitions have different weight categories, and athletes will enter the division that best suits them. The divisions are also guided by rank, and age, and span from the children's divisions, the women's divisions, the adult divisions, and the masters divisions. All students must adhere to the uniform regulations, and make sure that their Gi's fit properly. All Gi's are checked by an official to make sure that the sleeves are not too short, and that the lapels are not too thick, there are also rules surrounding the colour of the Gi, as the IBJJF standards say they must be either white, black, or royal blue. The No Gi uniform must also have ten percent of the athlete's belt colour, and must not have too many sponsored logos on the garment. Athletes will also make sure that their personal hygiene is up to scratch, and that their nails are clipped, their injuries are lightly strapped, and that their bjj long hair is tied back to make competing easier.
Once an athlete has weighed in they must enter the bullpen area, which is where the fighters will go and wait behind their mats for their matches. This is where Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitions can get frustrating, as some athletes can wait up to an hour for their match. Quite often the organisers of the event are calling out a competitor's name over the microphone, who may have stepped out of the building for a short period of time. It is extremely hard to get a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition to run smoothly, and have no hiccups, and athlete's must realise that this is the nature of the competition level. Once two competitors are ready to fight the referee will call them onto the mats, where they will bow to the referee, and to each other out of respect, in preparation for battle. If both competitors are wearing the same coloured Gi, the referee will ask one of the competitors to tie a yellow and green belt around their Gi, which makes it easier for the referee to score the match. In the No Gi division a coloured ankle band is worn by one competitor, and this is also to help the referee score the match.
Most competitions are governed by rule sets, and this means competitors must familiarise themselves with the rules, because they can be slightly different at different competitions. It can be quite embarrassing if a student gets disqualified for an illegal submission, when it can be easily avoided. They must also understand the points systems, because the points that are awarded can also vary between different organisations, as the perfect example of this is the difference between the IBJJF, and the ADCC. A competitor will fight with a time limit, and this will change due to the rank of the athlete, for example in the IBJJF white belt fights have a five minute duration, blue belts will go for six minute matches, purple belts will go for seven minute matches, brown belts will go for eight minute matches, black belts will go for ten minute matches, and all masters matches are five minutes long. There are three ways to win, and these are by submission, by points, and if the match is tied it goes to a referee decision.
WHAT IS A WALKOVER
There are many ways to win a match at the competition level. There are athletes that win by an accumulation of points, or by submission, with the main finishes coming by rear naked choke, triangle, arm bar, and more recently the heel hook. Matches will often tie, and the referee will have to make their decision on the winner. Some matches are won by disqualification, and others are by walkover. So what is a walkover? it sounds like some sort of brutal stomping submission, but in actual fact it has a much more basic meaning. The walkover is awarded to a fighter when the opponent of the match is a no show, or if they get previously injured from an earlier division, and they choose to scratch themselves from the competition. Not many athletes like to win by walkover, as it feels like a little bit of a cheat win. All athletes would rather fight, and earn their victory rather than be given a free pass into the next round. There is nothing worse when all competitors scratch from a division, leaving only one competitor to win a gold medal by walkover. Sure this is good for the accumulation of the overall points for the team tally, but at the same time it can leave an extremely sour taste in an athlete's mouth.
CAN A WALKOVER BE A STRATEGY FOR WINNING COMPETITION
There can be strategy attached to the walkover, as some athletes may conspire to use this ruling to the advantage of their team. Quite often teammates will enter into the same division, and work their way into the final. The unspoken rule of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition is that teammates do not fight each other. Quite often you can see them flipping a coin to see who will win the match, and allow the other competitor to win by walkover. This can also be a strategy, because if two competitors from the same team face off in the semi final, allowing a walkover means the winner can go into the final fresh against an opponent that has just fought in the other semi final. This can give a definitive advantage to the athlete going into the final. Although most athletes can see the sense in not wanting to fight their teammate at the competition level, it does feel like a dirty tactic that can become unfair for certain competitors. Many athletes are of the opinion that the two competitors should be forced to fight, and if the fight is staged then both competitors should be disqualified. This is an extremely hard line to follow, as the true nature of the walkover is more than likely a respect between two competitors of the same academy.
WHY DO ATHLETES PULL OUT OF COMPETITION MATCHES
There are many reasons why an athlete is forced to withdraw from a competition match. Some athletes will be forced to pull out before the competition even begins due to sickness, or injury.
Commonly during a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament athletes will enter all four divisions, which are their weight categories in the Gi, and the No Gi, and the absolute divisions in the Gi, and the No Gi. Competing in four divisions can be extremely taxing on an athlete's body, which will commonly result in the athlete pulling out of one, or two of their later divisions in the day. This can happen especially if the day of competition drags on into the evening, as some competitors just don't want to wait around for their last division. Once an athlete pulls out of a division it will force a walkover, and this will register as a win on the athlete's smoothcomp platform. Athletes can also suffer from injuries during competition, and this can also force them to pull out, and sometimes this can be unavoidable. Athletes should make sure they only enter the divisions that they intend to compete in, as this can be disrespectful to a competitor if an athlete pulls out. Of course there are always unavoidable situations where an athlete will have to pull out, but if it can be avoided then it should, because no competitor wants to win a gold medal by walkover.
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