Debunking Jiu-Jitsu Myths: Does Competition Make You Better?

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I was watching the IBJJF Pro League this past weekend and as it was setting up I noticed they were still finishing the Long Beach Open. I even noticed some people I had competed against there waiting for their match to start. I began to think to myself, " I think I see those kids at every single competition, they are like machines." There are some people who compete a lot… I mean A LOT. Every single competition they are there ready to go. Now, most likely these people have made Jiu-Jitsu their number one priority. However, it seems as though people believe that the more you compete, the better you get at Jiu-Jitsu, which I believe to not be entirely true.

I know this seems counter-intuitive, if you want to get better at something then you compete at the highest levels in order to refine your skills. Without a doubt there is something to be said for this. In addition to competing you also can develop a highly specific type of Jiu-Jitsu. What do I mean exactly? Well, if you notice people who compete a lot, who are very successful in Jiu-Jitsu, they tend to have a very specialized game.

Now this is great, you develop most likely a really good guard or one that is functional for you and efficient guard passing. For example, the Miyao Brothers game is highly tailored towards competition; they have unreal guards, spend the least amount of time on top as necessary and specialize in taking the back. All three of these ingredients are a recipe for being a successful Jiu-Jitsu competitor. The blueprint has been laid out by many great world champions. Now this is not the only way to win but it is a very successful one that I have seen work many times.

To bring this full circle, how does this apply to my point? Well, if you are constantly competing, then most likely you are going to focus on certain aspects of your game: your guard, taking the back, learning how to pull guard. All of these have their merits but do not necessarily make you a complete Jiu-Jitsu practioner. How many times do you spend working your side control or back defense in a competition? If you are good, very little if any at all. Therefore, the only real time in which you can better yourself in these precarious positions is at your academy. Competition breeds a specific type of Jiu-Jitsu but not necessarily always a better one.