Does Competition make you better at BJJ?

Most people who do BJJ have some kind of goal of progression. This progression may be getting the next tip, a promotion, or even winning a medal at a major comp. Whatever it is, everyone is turning up at practice in the hope of getting a little bit better every day. This is also the reason why practicing BJJ is often referred to as a journey. This journey is one of learning that will someday hopefully take you from being a mere white belt to a skilled black belt.

BJJ competition scene

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu there are many different competition formats with different rule-sets (Gi, nogi, IBJJF, Naga, sub only etc). In most BJJ gyms the decision to compete is optional and there is no pressure to sign up.

For first time competitors and even season pro’s, competing can be a nerve racking experience. It can also be an exhilarating experience that can become very addictive (and expensive!).

However competition is not for everyone and many have no desire to ever compete. Many others do it to simply develop some self defense skills or to improve their confidence. This is perfectly understandable but what these people may not realize is that if you are interested in getting better, competition is one of the quickest ways to improve your game.

How competing improves your game

In your own gym you may be limited by the amount of training partners you have. Even if you do have a decent number of partners, there may be less teammates who are a similar weight and skill level with whom you can spar. However in a competition you will be put into a bracket with people of the same belt, weight, and age. In this way the playing field is level and it provides you with the best possible assessment of just how good you are.

The competitors you face on the day will likely have trained hard in order to be in the best physical shape for event and will go 100% in an attempt to beat you. Rolling with someone who is going 100% and has the benefit of heightened adrenaline is unlike any spar that you will have in the gym. In order to beat an opponent of similar strength and size you will need superior technique and game plan. This is a unique situation that you cannot replicate in the gym and is ultimately very beneficial to your own development,

Competition is also a great way to figure out where the holes in your game lie. Perhaps you have a sweep or a move that catches everyone in your gym . However in competition you will eventually meet someone who can easily shut this move down. This can be a frustrating experience but it forces you to examine your technique and figure out ways to improve.

here is a short summary of some of the main benefits of competing:

  • Test your skills against the best people at your belt/age/size.
  • Get exposure to different techniques and skills.
  • Learn what it takes to be the best.
  • Expose gaps in your own game.
  • Motivate you to focus and train harder.