A Little Respect Goes a Long Way

By Joshua Rozenboom

The fall tournament season is upon us, and the 2018 Southwest Classic is right around the corner. Training is getting more intense, and competitors are getting into the competition mindset. For some people, the increased intensity adds an air of excitement to their training. But not everyone who trains likes to compete, and tensions can run high as teams turn up the pressure.

Competition is an integral part of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and Arizona has a healthy and prolific competition scene. The calendar is full of events under the AZ State Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation, which seeks to bring a positive competition experience to the state. Schools all over the Valley are holding competition classes, focusing on game plans, and stepping up the intensity to more closely match the pace of a tournament.

However, even with the preponderance of tournaments and successful competitors in the area, the fact remains that not everyone who shows up to class is preparing for a competition. If you’re new to Jiu Jitsu with no tournament experience, or if competing is simply not of interest to you, you may find that tournament season gets rough. Tempers flare and feelings get hurt, and sometimes it’s easy to take things personally. So how do we maintain our level of respect when it seems like everyone is trying to win the Worlds on a Tuesday night in October?

Start by remembering that respect begins when you walk in the door. This works a couple of different ways. For those who love the intensity of competition, keep in mind that some of your teammates won a personal battle just by putting aside their fears and stepping on the mat. This alone is what creates the feeling of camaraderie that we love about Jiu Jitsu: everyone who puts on the gi and steps on the mat is already winning, and we all learn together. And you never know - that middle-aged, out-of-shape soccer mom who picked up the art last year as a way to shed a few pounds just might fall in love with competing and become one of the toughest students in the gym.

For those who enjoy the learning and the challenge of Jiu Jitsu, and find that people get a little crazy during tournament season, try and remember that your teammates are working towards a goal. If you feel a separation because you are not into the fast paced intensity of competition, know that your competitive fellows appreciate your help, and everyone plays a part in the success of a team. You might also take advantage of the extra push. The atmosphere in the gym before a big tournament gets exciting and energetic; it’s a great way to super-charge your training and test your grit, even if you don’t intend to compete. And you never know – you just might feel inspired to sign up for that tournament!

Tournaments bring out the best in Jiu Jitsu teams. The school bands together to help each other prepare, and some might even have dedicated competition teams and/or classes. Just keep in mind that while it’s great to train hard and push each other, nobody should get hurt. It’s our job to take care of each other, help each other learn and improve, and - most importantly - it’s our job to keep Jiu Jitsu fun!