You don't want to be the guy at the tournament who thinks he's a much better grappler than he really is. So ask your coaches if you're ready for your first BJJ tournament. Some gyms encourage competition for students early on with as little as one month of training. Others prefer students train for several months and showcase skill in the gym before competing. And certain gyms aren't even competition focused.
It's important to first ask your coaches to assess your skill prior to any competitions. Because ultimately, you're representing your school and coach when you're competing.
For your first tournament, you need to assess your current weight. After doing so, you’ll be able to determine the weight you can best compete in. Your weight should be guaranteed, so that you can focus more on your game plan. The point of your competing weight reflecting your current weight is so that you can avoid cutting too much too fast. Consequently, you don’t want to suffer a loss because of poorly executed weight management.
Once you have your desired competition weight selected, you can begin assessing your current shape before looking at tournaments. This will help you better decide the conditioning that you will need in preparation for the tournament.
First, you need to decide whether you want to compete in a points jiu-jitsu tournament or a submission only style tournament. From there you need to determine which tournament to make your debut. There are some very solid organized tournaments run by groups like NAGA, IBJJF, NABJJF, US Grappling and more. Entry fees generally range from $70 to $130 to enter a single elimination tournament.
Also, you can always check with your coaches to see if there are any upcoming tournaments that they think might be a good fit.
When creating your game plan, it is best to ask yourself what you are great at, where you need the most improvement and the type of opponents you may face. In doing so, you can better plan your success. You can break it down by attacks, defensive techniques, and your escapes. It is best to plan for top, bottom, and escapes. In doing so, you can keep it simple, which is especially helpful if you are a beginner. Your plan of action should include your takedowns, guards, guard breaks, passes, submissions, and how you plan to get in and out of positions. You can also include drills to determine how you will react to takedowns. Finally, you should outline all escapes or any situations you haven’t covered.
Aim to drill at least two takedowns, and drill sprawling to avoid common takedowns, like the ankle pick. Through drills and training, you can commit your game plan to muscle memory. Preparing for the BJJ Tournament As you grow closer to your tournament day, double and triple check your weight, game plan, and every aspect of your BJJ practice. Continue to drill and spar up until two days before the tournament to ensure maximum gains, but still adequate rest. If you do any move 1000 times, you will always notice an increase in its effectiveness. It is best to also use this time to focus on any areas you feel are especially weak.
The night before the tournament, you should be fully prepared mentally and physically. BJJ tournaments are physically and mentally demanding for beginners and veterans alike. Decide if you want to use Gi gear, remember to bring your belt, pack sweatpants to stay warm and comfortable, and you can bring any source of music as well. As far as nutrition goes, for snacks, you should pack light. Therefore, the best suggestions would be bananas, protein bars or shakes, almonds, honey sticks, and coconut water. It is best to eat light during the tournament itself. Though it is optional, you can also bring a friend and pack a camera.
Clear your mind the night and morning prior to your tournament. You can do this through a movie, by reading, or even by hanging out with friends and family. Whatever it is you need to do to clear your mind, do so because a clouded mind could be your biggest disadvantage.
The day of the tournament has come. Make sure to eat a good size breakfast because you will need fuel. You won’t always know exactly when you will have a chance to refuel again. Take the time to relax and visualize before your match. This will help you effectively warm up mentally before attempting to warm up physically.
Warming up properly will help you avoid injuries. It is suggested that you use foam rolling, Hindi squats, dive bomber pushups, sprawls, and partner drills as methods of warming up. Ensure that you recover properly between your matches by focusing on your hydration and breathing. Avoid making any drastic changes during the tournament.
Tournament training is invaluable. You will either win or lose, but regardless you will learn and improve in your BJJ practice.