Brazilian jiu jitsu tournaments are physically and mentally demanding. Depending on the tournament, competitors can spend all day sitting around waiting for their division to be up. Not knowing when your division will be called is a nerve-racking experience, leaving you unsure when to warm up and when to eat. Some of the larger tournaments offer competitors more structure, with times and schedules assigned a few days before the tournament. But BJJ competitors are still notorious for making some of the same mistakes at every tournament.
For every competitor it is important to enter a tournament fully prepared both mentally and physically. Here are the four biggest mistakes I see people make when it comes to competing in a BJJ tournament:
Mistake #1: Not Making Weight
You could have the best game plan in the world, the best techniques, strength, and conditioning, but it will do you no good if you do not make weight. At many tournaments you can find competitors running around before weigh-ins trying to drop the last few pounds. In the larger federation tournaments if you do not make weight you will be disqualified. Knowing that you could be disqualified places extra pressure on the competitor. Before a tournament, the focus should be on your game plan not on making weight.
Many of the larger tournaments take place in California. This means traveling for a large number of competitors. It is not uncommon to hear of competitors who missed weight and were no longer allowed to compete. There is no excuse for this. You spent endless hours training. You spent the money, booked a plane ticket, but did not make weight. Your weight cut should be planned out better than your travel plans.
When deciding what class to compete in start by looking at your current weight. How close are you to the weight class you would like to compete in? Second, look at how far away the competition is. If you are 20lbs away and the tournament is in two weeks you might want to consider moving up a weight class. Third, what time are weigh-ins? Are weigh-ins the same day as the tournament or the day before? Will you weigh-in with the gi on or without? Everything matters.
Many competitors suffer unnecessary losses from poorly planned weight cuts. Trying to cut too much weight too fast will do very little for your performance. At some of the larger tournaments, where five or more matches are common, a poorly planned weight cut will leave little left for later matches. For tournaments that allow weigh-ins the day before, I like my competitors to be no more than ten pounds above their weight class the week of weigh-ins. For competitors that have a same day weigh-in, they need to be no more than five pounds above the week before. I recommend any competitor that is above my recommendations to move up a weight class.
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