COMPETING IN JIU JITSU IS THE ULTIMATE HIGH
So I missed Metamoris 4. Which sucked because when I watched the matches later that night, holy shit were they great. Especially Chael Sonnen vs Andre Galvao. Now I don’t mean ‘great’ in the sense that I was shocked by the outcome—let’s face it, oddsmakers ranked Chael as a +1400 underdog—but by ‘great’ I mean in how he flipped his middle finger at both the Nevada State Athletic Commission, and those saying he didn’t belong on the same mat as one of the most decorated jiu jitsu champions to ever live.
Many regard Chael, with his smack talk and theatrics, as the ultimate entertainer. But review his bio—youth and high school wrestling standout, Division I All American, Greco Roman Olympic trialist, elite MMA title contender—and you realize the guy is really the ultimate competitor, driven to constantly test himself.
Which is why I skipped his Metamoris match—so I could compete at the NABJJF North American tournament, and test my jiu jitsu.
Friends who don’t train often ask, why put yourself through the pain of training every day, cutting weight for a competition, setting aside an entire Saturday, subjecting your to possible humiliation, etc.
For the test, I say.
It’s really that simple: for the test.
Three to four times a year I compete in a jiu jitsu tournament. It started with my wanting to understand the mental side of MMA—specifically, what a fighter goes through in the months leading up to a fight. Now, I wasn’t about to start training MMA (head trauma, fear of injuries, the sound of a solid leg kick), so I joined the Art of Jiu Jitsu academy, in Costa Mesa, California, the day it opened, a little over two years ago.
AOJ is my first Brazilian jiu jitsu gym. I’d grappled here and there, even taken a few private lessons with BJJ legend, Fredson Paixao. But this was my intro to the world of sport jiu jitsu.
And that’s something I didn’t realize: jiu jitsu gyms are broken into sport (where the primary emphasis is competition, and advanced non-street techniques), self-defense (emphasis on deflecting strikes and real-world encounters), and casual (my term for the more fun/relaxed gyms, which I really enjoy visiting).
So in my ignorance I joined a sport jiu jitsu gym, and within a few months found myself competing in my first tournament. Coming from a wrestling background, I felt comfortable in no-gi classes and no-gi competitions, but I was utterly disoriented in the gi. First two tournaments I lost in the first round, and that’s when I learned what Ronda Rousey meant went she told me, “Sports are a metaphor for life.”
Which goes to say, that in one-on-one competitions, be they MMA/judo/jiu jitsu, or even tennis, you test yourself, face obstacles and fail, then adjust your approach, fail again, train smarter, succeed, fail, succeed, etc.
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