Competition Experience! Recap of the AJP Tour Jiu-jitsu Competition in Shanghai, China
On Saturday, November 21st, 2020, I competed in my first Brazilian jiu-jitsu competition as a purple belt and my first competition in three years. It was a nice opportunity to test my skills and see if I’ve actually learned enough to earn my purple belt. It was also a great moment to bond with my Absolute MMA teammates. Here is my account of what happened during this competition as well as my thoughts about competing in general.
Jessica: A semi-seasoned competitor
My experience in jiu-jitsu competitions isn’t that interesting or full to be honest. I wasn’t out there trying to prove something. I only try to prove myself in the gym where I refuse to tap to anyone (hehe). But after a very competitive childhood, I’ve always just looked to chill, enjoy my time training, connect with my training partners, and learn about the sport. After talking to my more experienced BJJ teammates in the states, I felt that BJJ competitions are kind of essential to your BJJ journey (which again you don't have to. I have a few friends who never plan to compete).
I never got the chance to compete at white belt: the day I was going to sign up for my first competition, I received my blue belt. I decided that hey, why not actually go for the competition as a blue belt. Funny enough, because that day there was a snowstorm, all the people in my weight class dropped out and I was bumped up a weight class. I ended up going with a four-stripe blue belt, maybe 10 to 15 pounds heavier than me. Let’s just say that it didn’t go as I planned, and I’ll always remember how to get to a bow and arrow choke because of that day. I placed second but since it was by a loss, I felt that I wasn't good enough and I should try and compete again.
I competed one more time in the states (nothing interesting to talk about, I won by an advantage) and then didn’t compete in China until 2017. I honestly wasn’t training as hard as I knew I should, and I had the mindset that because I put four years of training into jiu-jitsu, I was going to win. I wasn’t eating right, and my stamina was TRASHHHHHH. The day of the competition, I got there early (7:00am) and was excited to compete and excited for all my teammates to compete too. I was going mat to mat cheering for everyone and being my energetic self. But, when it was time for me to compete (around 5:00pm), I was exhausted.
Although I won my first match by points, I lost my second match via armbar. It broke my competitive spirit. I made many excuses for not competing in the competitions to follow for the upcoming months and years. But finally, I bit the bullet, got over myself and signed up for the Abu Dhabi competition.
I was honestly tired of making excuses for myself about competing and plus with the poop show that is 2020, I figured I wasn’t going to have many opportunities to compete outside of China with so many countries going back into lockdown. One of my other excuses for not competing was about not having anyone to compete with because I’m a lot bigger than the girls who compete here in China. Most of the weight classes under 65kg (143 lbs) are the ones with the fullest brackets. In addition, the higher you go up in belt level the less girls there are to compete with. So, for me competing over 70kg as a purple belt means me either always having one match or no matches. This was the case for me competing in no-gi, where there was no women who to compete at my level AT ALL. I even decided to register for adult instead of Masters 1 (which is a nice way of saying you’re old), and still there was no one in that level to compete with. This was quite disappointing for me but I’m glad that many of my other teammates got to do both.
Pre- , post-, and during competition feelings
The weeks going up to the competition, I just kept thinking about how there was going to be no one to compete with. My bracket was empty for up to two weeks before the competition. Lucky for me, I was able to get one competitor in my bracket. I won’t lie, I was super jealous of my male, white and blue belt female teammates who had full brackets and many people to compete with. The day of the competition was nerve racking. I learned my lesson from my last competition and conserved my energy a lot better and cheered when I could and rested as much as I needed before my actual match time.
When it was time to go, I felt nervous, which I guess is normal and I honestly kept the “I’m bigger therefore better” mentality out of my head. I think this change in mentality really helped with my win and with the validation of my training. My opponent wasn’t making it easy for me to do anything which was a second validation to all my training. After a difficult match, where I thought I was going to die of exhaustion, I won!
Also, although I’ve competed a few times, this was my first time to stand on a podium. I’ve placed in other competitions, but it was actually nice to stand in the first-place spot. It brought me a sense of pride to represent my team in such a positive way and to know that my jiu-jitsu was okay.
Part of a team of killers
As for my teammates, it was super cool to see these warriors in action. You roll with the mostly the same people all the time and you learn what they’re most likely to do, But to see them use those same moves with other competitors was really awesome. I believe that everyone went out there and did/showed everything they were capable of. Even when it came down to competing against our own teammates, no one held back.
You also want your teammates to do the best they can but sometimes when a match doesn’t go as plan it was nice to be around them with other teammates for comfort and support. When it did go well, It was also nice to see so many people win a metal and stand on the podium.
My verdict about competing next
This competition put me on a wave of competition fever! Competing in this competition gave me the confidence I need to continue competing and just furthering my BJJ knowledge as well as taking measures to be further on top of my game and get more competitors in any way I can. This means for me cutting to get into smaller weight classes, developing a better game, practicing chains and more situations to get submissions. I hope when the world opens up again, I’ll travel around to compete outside of China. The only way to get better at these things is to give myself more experiences.
Do you compete in BJJ or in your respective sports/hobbies? How do you get over pre-competition jitters?