What is the Right Weight Class for You?
By Gabriela McCrossan
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Weight classes are an important part of combat sports and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is no exception. It allows you to test your skills against someone physically similar to you so that the main factor in the outcome is your skill level. There are many people out there who believe that lower is always better. Let’s take a look at some things you should think about when deciding what weight class to sign up for.
Why are you competing? If you’re competing because you want to have fun, test your skills, and hang out with your friends, you might not want to go too crazy with trying to drop to a lower weight class. It will make it difficult to have a good time and focus on anything other than your weight. If you’re right on the edge of a lower weight class and you can reach it by cleaning up your diet for a few weeks, by all means go for it.
If you’re competing because you want to be the next world champion and this is something that is very important in your life, then weight class that you are in is much more important. However, lower is not always better. What is most important is feeling strong and fast so that you can play your best game. Sometimes that’s at a lower weight class, and sometimes it isn’t. Are you going to cut weight? Cutting weight in Jiu Jitsu is highly pervasive. It’s probably impossible to find a team anywhere where people aren’t cutting weight by sweating it out the night before or the morning of their tournament. So, when is it appropriate? That depends on each person. Obviously it is ideal to be walking around at your ideal competition weight. There generally isn’t enough time to rehydrate before matches start. This means that if you cut weight by draining several pounds of water from yourself you will start the match already dehydrated, and probably not be able to perform your best. If you’re going to cut weight this way, try to keep track of how much your weight fluctuates day-to-day, or from the morning to the night. Don’t try to exceed what you lose with these fluctuations with your weight cutting. (I know some of you will do that anyway, but please know that this can get very dangerous, very quickly). This isn’t the only way to cut weight, but it is the most common. The alternative to this is to start several weeks out, and follow a highly focused diet and exercise plan that will get you exactly to the weight you need to be when you need to be there. If you are doing this and setting reasonable goals (and not expecting to drop 25 pounds in three weeks), this is more ideal.
Let’s talk about another scenario for just a moment before we wrap this up. Maybe you’re in a position where you have plenty of weight to lose and you feel like you can’t compete unless you drop two, three, or even four weight classes. This can be a great motivator over time, but it shouldn’t stop you from competing where you are right now. It also shouldn’t motivate you to cut a lot of weight over a short time and put yourself in danger just to be in a lower weight class. At the end of the day, you’re paying to go out and showcase your skills in Jiu Jitsu. You should be able to enjoy the experience and only have to worry about pre-competition nerves, not about sweating your guts out until you can barely stand. Let us know your thoughts on weight classes and cutting weight in the comments!