Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) tournaments are great for assessing your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills and strategies without getting into street fights on a regular basis.
You can train 5-7 days a week in your martial arts academy and learn some serious skills, but unless you test those skills against opponents that you are not used to (not your teammates) you will have no way of knowing how you will truly react during a live situation. Although Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournaments are not violent situations, such as a street fights or self defense situations, BJJ tournaments can help you to practice controlling your anxiety and adrenaline during a "real" fight.
To prepare for a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament you must not only rely on your routine class sessions, but also begin a competition regiment.
This includes proper nutrition, strength and conditioning work, basic class instruction and "tournament training". These are the building blocks to become a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Champion.
Proper nutrition is an entire subject within it self. There are plenty of books and magazines that can help guide you to a healthy diet, but remember that your diet is literally what you eat, not a temporary fix to a permanent lifestyle. Use common sense here and follow a qualified nutritionist's advice. Let your nutritionist know what your goal is and follow through until you reach your goal and then keep it maintained or design a new goal. You are what you eat and if you eat poorly you will compete poorly if you stick to a great diet you will most likely feel great when you compete. Proper hydration is very important, especially to athletes.
The amount of fluids you should intake varies depending on the individual, but a good guideline is to measure yourself before your workout and again after your workout to determine the amount of fluid loss and then make sure you are replenishing that amount throughout the day. One pound is approximately 24 ounces of fluid. Be sure and not drink too much too fast as it is recommended to limit your intake to 1 cup of water about every twenty minutes.
Strength and conditioning is more important for your mind than anything else. Running, biking, cross-fit or Gym Jones type of work outs will make you look and feel great, but honestly in my opinion they don't help your "grappling" strength/cardio much, at least not for an art that uses technique over strength. Only countless consistent mat time can help your ground strength and cardio, but what running, biking and the cross-fit and Gym Jones workouts do for you is prepare you mentally. If you can get your mind through a tough cardio session, you can easily get through the typical 3-5 matches you will have during a competition.
Never rely on strength in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, because if you do you are losing site of the true application.
Basic class instruction is probably the most important of the four, because if you don't know basic Brazilian Jiu Jitsu then you will probably have a hard time competing against anyone who does. Attend class regularly and become a sponge. Ask questions and take some private lessons if you are having trouble with certain positions or moves. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is like a complicated 10,000 piece puzzle, putting all the pieces together is not easy, but it can be done with patience and understanding. Your class instruction is the foundation to the preparation of a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Tournament. Find a school that has a reputation for building successful Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitors and learn what you can from everyone there.
If you want to expand your knowledge beyond the class room build a library of instructional books and DVD's or better yet attend some Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Seminars.
Tournament Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training is how you put the all the above pieces together. Most successful athletes will tell you that competition training is the hardest part, because if you train for 4-8 weeks before a tournament, the one or two day grappling tournament is nothing in comparison. Think of this as the pre-exam and if you can get through the tournament training you should be in shape to do extremely well in the tournament. Tournament training should combine your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills with your strength and conditioning and your competition state of mind and if you are not eating healthy, which includes hydrating properly then you will suffer the consequences of injuries and chronic exhaustion. Tournament training is where you will mix in drills, stand up work (Judo/Wrestling) and mock or practice tournaments with your teammates. This time is best scheduled immediately following a regular class session.
Preparation for a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament, especially a large Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament can be a daunting task, but have fun with it, soak in the knowledge and you will find yourself with your hand raised and standing on the podium. Healthy eating and proper hydration, cardio work, basic class instruction and tournament training are the puzzle pieces to prepare yourself for victory at your next Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Competition. Good luck!
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu