You will get many different point of views on the simple question, “when should I compete?”
Have you ever asked yourself this? Are you really ready to step on the mat and face a stranger in front of many spectators or will this be another regular Saturday that you bring home a metal?
A few years back I started to really push the pace on my training and conditioning. Remembering what my first professor told me regarding doing cardio until you know nobody can beat you I fit in my cardio workouts as late as 2am (or early if you are sleeping) and this was the norm.
Insanity workout at 5am and sprinting/jogging in the late evening with my elevation mask, training jiu jitsu 3-5 days a week followed by additional rolling/drilling in open mat, and squeezing in pushups and squats in between bathroom breaks at work was the my daily routine. I could confidently say I had zero to worry about when it came to cardio. I felt like superman!
Competition day arrives and I step on the mat for my first match. A well known bjj competitor and mma fighter (I was told this minutes prior to my fight, not sure if it helped) steps on the mat and we slapped hands. COMBAT! I pushed, pushed, pushed that pace. Escaping a bow and arrow choke I went headed towards success in the late minutes of the match and then… I got tapped out. My next match, a black belt (I was a brown belt) comes in and submits me within 3 minutes of the match. One thing is for sure, I did not gas out. Yes; this really lowered my confidence level. It really hurt me emotionally. I felt embarrassed, humiliated… I felt like I failed my professor, academy, my wife, and myself.
Now of course some may say I was too hard on myself. Then again, how would you feel after putting so much work into it?
Months later I come in contact with a coworker who at the time was a blue belt at Marcelo Garcia’s Academy in NYC. He was telling me how he was getting ready to compete in the NY Open and how I should as well. I responded with “nah, i’m not prep’d to compete”. He says, “dude, so what? just go out there and roll!” Then he goes on talking about some of his competitions; this guy competes more in a half a year than I have in years! He’s competed when he had a bad week, after an injury, on his birthday, after traveling for hours, after working long hours at work, etc…
After our long talk he said something that really hit home to me.
“What’s the purpose to thinking you’ll be 100% to compete? If you lose, what does that say to you? That you’re not really good? I mean, you’re at 100% right? So this must mean you are not at other peoples level?… Let me tell you this man, I compete any chance I get and to be honest with you, I’ve come in first place feeling like shi# the whole week knowing my cardio sucks! I’ve come in 3rd place feeling really good and pumped, I’ve come in 2nd place right after an injury… Dude, you go out there and roll!”
Wow. That was a point of view I haven’t had anyone say to me and I’m happy he did.
So, when should you compete? I leave this to you to pick your point of view.
Special thanks to Kyvann Gonzalez for his words