Experience the pulse-pounding excitement of standing on a mat, staring across at your opponent, prepared to step into the unknown, your first Jiu Jitsu competition. There is truly nothing else like it.

First BJJ Tournament

The clock ticking away before your first match can seem like a war drum pounding inside your chest. Each tick magnifying the exhilaration that comes from pushing beyond boundaries you never knew existed. But then there's also the nerve-racking tension - what if I get submitted? Should I fight for a takedown or pull guard? What if I forget my training?

We all have our own personal strengths and weaknesses, and our own mental demons. It's not just about being in top physical shape, but also mastering the mental game. Let's dive into the things you should actually be focusing while preparing for your first BJJ tournament.

Preparing for Your First Jiu Jitsu Tournament

First BJJ Competition

Signing up for your very first Jiu Jitsu tournament can be a mixture of excitement and anxiousness. Whether you're a white belt or an advanced Brazilian jiu practitioner, preparation is everything.

Find a Balance In Training

Regular training sessions are essential when gearing up for a competition. They not only help improve techniques but also build stamina, strength, and cardiovascular endurance which are crucial for competitive matches. Avoid overdoing it - find a balance between pushing yourself and allowing your body to rest.

You should use these sessions as opportunities to learn from your teammates by sparring with partners at different skill levels - this will expose you to various styles and body types that you may be matched up with in competition. Watching videos from black belts on strategies may give more insight too - but ultimately you should lean on your professor and training partners for strategy advice.

Developing Mental Toughness

Mental preparation plays just as important a role as physical conditioning in BJJ tournaments. Anxiety during competitions is normal, in fact almost all BJJ competitors - regardless of belt rank or experience level have some sort of pre-competition anxiety. But learning how to manage that will let you perform better under pressure. Despite your opponents scary pre-fight face, rest assured that he is just as nervous as you are.

While being calm is good, try and not be overly calm. Make no mistake about it, this isn't going to be an average roll in your gym. Your opponent will come out hard, the adrenaline on both ends will be higher than normal - your first thought will be "holy sh*t this guy is strong!"

If you are calm, prepared for the storm to come, and trust in your training and technique - win or lose, you will do just fine in your first tournament.

Understanding Rules and Regulations

Understanding the tournament's rules will boost your confidence and ease any concerns. Knowing these regulations will help calm nerves and increase self-assurance.

Uniform Requirements for Tournaments

Many tournaments like those that follow IBJJF rules and uniform guidelines, you are required to wear an IBJJF legal Gi - which usually includes a kimono jacket, pants, and belt corresponding to your rank. However, it's important to note that each organization will have their own uniform policy, it is ultimately your job to find this and understand what is allowed and what isn't. If you are unsure you can always email the organization or ask one of your teammates who has competed under that organization before for advice.

But what happens if you show up without the right gi? Well... let’s say they won’t start handing out medals as consolation prizes.

Do Not Cut Weight

The next significant regulation revolves around weight categories. If there's one thing that scares first time BJJ competitors more than Bruce Lee quotes on hard work – it's making weight. But here's some good news: do not cut weight.

Find a weight class that you naturally fit into for your first tournament. After time, you will find the right weight class - but for now focus on getting some competition rolls under your belt, win our lose getting experience competing in tournaments should be your main focus right now.

Creating a Game Plan

Jiu Jitsu Game Plan

Your first BJJ tournament is more than just showing up and rolling. It's about strategy, planning your moves ahead of time, and finding ways to control the match on your terms. This all starts with creating an effective game plan.

A good game plan should be based around positions you are comfortable in and techniques you have drilled countless times during training sessions. The key here isn't to become unpredictable but rather proficient at executing familiar moves under pressure.

It's also important that you know the ruleset for this specific tournaments. How the points work and ultimately what submissions are allowed(and not allowed) at your belt rank. The last thing you want to do is get disqualified for hitting a submission that isn't allowed at your belt level. Again, each organization has their own ruleset, but generally this is how the points system works:

  • Takedown or Throw: 2 points
  • Sweep: 2 points
  • Knee on Belly: 2 points
  • Passing the Guard: 3 points
  • Mount Position: 4 points

The Transformative Experience of Your First Tournament

Stepping onto the mat for your first BJJ tournament can feel like a whirlwind. Testing yourself against unfamiliar opponents can be a daunting but rewarding experience.

You'll be feeling strong one minute, then pushed to the limits of your toughness the next. But the ride has its perks. Competing in tournaments is a transformative experience that helps shape personal growth, much like Bruce Lee once said: "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times."

This sense of transformation doesn't come from winning or losing - it comes from showing up and giving everything you've got on that day. You'll find new levels of determination and resilience within yourself that perhaps you never knew existed.

The Powerhouse Effect Of Feedback

Your performance will be scrutinized by experienced eyes during these matches – don’t see this as criticism but rather invaluable feedback. When your professor or higher belt teammates give feedback on what you missed, or about guard passing or managing back control better - this is not to be critical of your performance but rather helping to accelerate your learning process at a quicker pace than regular training sessions would allow.


Stepping into your first Jiu Jitsu tournament, the thrill and fear are natural companions. The dance of anticipation can be a whirlwind but remember - preparation is key.

Mindfully balance training sessions with rest periods to build strength and endurance without risking overtraining. Develop mental toughness; it's as vital as physical fitness when surviving your first Jiu-Jitsu tournament.

Understand the rules, gear up correctly, and keep an eye on weight categories – unnecessary stress doesn't have to join this dance.

Create a strategic game plan focusing on effective techniques like guard passing. Nourish yourself right and rest adequately for optimal performance during tournaments.

Tackle pre-match nerves head-on by finding ways that work for you – music could be your secret weapon! Lastly, embrace this transformative experience because it fosters personal growth beyond the mat!

The journey might seem daunting now but once you've consciously worked on these elements, you'll navigate through future BJJ competitions like a seasoned vet!

December 05, 2023