How did I prepare for my first ever competition?
There were so many things that I learned the hard way that I wish I knew before I began competing in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and submission grappling tournaments. However, the main thing I learned for my competition was that live sparing during Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or submission grappling class did not completely prepare me for my first competition.
The knees. Whenever you roll in call you start on the knees and rarely from standing. This causes many bjj fighters to have a limited stand-up game. It’s obvious why a roll starts on the knees in class, to stop injury, but if you really want to compete, you need to learn to stand.
So what do you do?
After getting taken down quickly in my first competition I vowed to increase my repertoire of takedowns and begin live sparring from standing as much as possible. As I began to train my takedowns more I became more confident with my stand up and that confidence translated into increased effectiveness of my throws. The term stand-up refers a grapplers ability to take an opponent down as well as defend takedown attacks.
Keep it simple at first!
When you decide you’re going to improve your stand up game learn a few takedowns well. Don’t overcomplicate the process by trying to learn a ton of new throws, instead focus on a few takedowns and practice those few relentlessly. If you are going to do a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competition or Gi competition then I would learn two judo style throws and one wrestling style throw. By judo style throw I mean learn a throw that involves gaining an advantageous grip on your opponents gi or top jacket (the grip is called a “kumikata” in Japanese) and utilising that grip to execute a judo throw. I would suggest a hip toss such as Uchimata and a leg throw like Osotogari. These are among the most basic judo style throws and common to the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world so most Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu teachers will know how to teach these throws. I’d also add one of the most common wrestling takedowns called a single leg takedown. This can be simply described as grabbing one of your opponents’ legs (typically with both hands) and causing him to lose balance and fall to the ground.
If you are planning to do a submission grappling or no-gi competition then I would suggest learning one upper body throw and two wrestling leg takedowns. I would learn the single leg takedown as described above as well as the double leg takedown. Also you will need to learn an upper body judo style throw that has been adapted to no-gi grappling. No-gi judo style throws are just adapted to be executed without the advantage of gripping your opponents’ gi.
Learn good takedowns as well as takedown defense and you’ll be a step ahead of the competition!