I love to compete! Not everyone wants to, because it’s one of the most difficult things to do in Bjj. I could stay in the gym and enjoy many of the benefits of the art without ever competing again. There is plenty to learn, and I can stay in reasonably good shape doing something fun. We value our hobbyists, there are a few good reasons to avoid competition. They can be just as good as our competitors, and offer some looks at the game that we would be missing without them. Competition offers a few things I value, and I want everyone to feel comfortable accepting challenges.
An even match trims back our natural tendency to make excuses. Anyone can train, but that doesn’t mean every gym has five people who are an even match for you. When you remove an excuse, you open an opportunity for growth. If you’re in a unique weight or age range, don’t be afraid to sign up for the big ones. The IBJJF Pans and World Master have reliable turnouts in several unique divisions.
You can test how you operate during an adrenaline dump in a safe environment. Don’t let people bullshit you about training for self defense if they can’t handle the pressure of a match without punches. You don’t need to (but can) take an MMA fight to learn how clearly you think under stress. Can you maintain a good attitude and follow through with a plan? Will you recognize when and how to improvise and change plans? A few matches will offer some insight, and help you to prioritize what to improve on next.
Last, we all need our ego checked from time to time. It’s easy to be a big fish in a small pond. Getting handled and treated kindly by a world champion can help us remember to be patient with an enthusiastic new kid. Getting out there tends to calm us down, give us direction, and find motivation to keep coming in consistently. Everyone does not have to compete, but I will encourage everyone to consider the benefits. See you on the mats!