A little competition perspective

Friday’s open mat was a much needed stress relief after a somewhat brutal week at work. I got a few frustrations out on the mat, and while chatting with a teammate (hi Tom!), got a little perspective on my biggest weakness as a grappler – my mind.

We were talking about whether swimming and grappling are in fact similar from a competitive standpoint. My initial response is no, it’s hugely different. Swimming -especially pool swimming – is a very solo sport. Sure, you’re competing against other swimmers, but they can’t physically impact your performance. How well you do is solely the result of your own efforts – it’s just you in that lane. Open water is a bit different because the physical contact can definitely be a factor, but the contact isn’t of a direct, one-on-one nature (except maybe around a hotly contested bouy).

Grappling, on the other hand, is a one-on-one, you against the other girl kind of sport. What your competition does has a direct and immediate effect on your performance. I think this is the part that tends to screw with my head a bit. I’m not used to not being able to do exactly what I want when I compete. I’m used to cutting bouys close during a race if I want. I know that if I want to draft off of someone, or drift a little off course to pick up a current, I can do it. In BJJ, I don’t feel good about being put in a position that I don’t want to be in. I get frustrated if someone blocks a pass attempt and puts me back in guard, or if they break my posture and start working for the armbar.

But in all honesty, as Tom pointed out, it’s really not all that different. In open water swimming in particular, you have a plan in place. You scope out the course ahead of time, determine the current and chop conditions, check water temperature, and stay flexible, When things change during the race – say the wind starts to kick up the chop or the tide turns on you early, you adjust your plan, but you still work your plan. And there’s the key, I think. In BJJ competitions, I’ve been so focused on reacting to the other person that I haven’t been focusing on my own game. The chess aspect of the sport, where you think several steps ahead, have a plan in place, and work to achieve your position rather than just trying to keep the opponent from achieving theirs, has eluded me somewhat.  Instead, I stress out about…well, everything really, and I’ve gotten myself beat before I even step on the mat.

So I’m going to try to approach my training with that in mind, and depending on how things go, consider possibly (maybe) competing sometime in the (somewhat) near future (but no promises). I still have a new job and a construction mess to deal with, so it isn’t a first priority. I’m ok with that – I’m not going to push it.

I am, however, incredibly excited for a full day of BJJ today. A three-hour seminar from Dalla’s instructor, Jorge Periera, followed by the grand opening of Dalla’s new gym (I’ll try to post pictures. Remind me to bring my camera…) followed by watching the fights with the team that night. Hot damn.

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4 Responses to A little competition perspective

  1. elyse says:

    You may be frustrated right now, but your mind is in the right place :). Alot of people believe that executing a game plan in jiu jitsu is really what separates purples from blues. I think there’s alot more to it than that, but this is a major factor. It’s about being systematic, simplified, and aggressive.
    I know it’s hard for you to make it up to Crystal City, but maybe we can get together on the weekends sometime to roll and work on specific things. I’m going to be competing as often as possible this year so we can take the journey together!


    • Tom says:

      I am so glad to hear you speak these words. Positive motivation is all you need , and i know you will achieve everything you want. I wish this was a daily article because i am hooked lol.


  2. grappledunk says:

    Elyse – Thanks! I need to get up there on Saturdays more, I know. Once my schedule settles down (soon, it looks like), I’ll be able to really get focused on training more regularly. When is your next competition?

    Tom – Aww… that’s a nice thing to say!


  3. elyse says:

    It’s looking like NAGA in Newark on Nov. 14th.


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