How to Prepare for Your First Jiu-Jitsu Competition

After picking up the basics and getting to a decent beginner’s skill level, you may want to begin competing in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Your instructor may even recommend it if they believe you are ready to take on the challenge. Taking part in a tournament is an invaluable opportunity to learn and grow, so it’s a good idea to enter if you have the opportunity. More than getting the chance to use your techniques, a tournament will teach you how to think and move well under pressure. You will also be exposed to others of similar experience, putting your moves to the test and most likely seeing strategies you might not have thought of yourself. In order to get the most out of the event, though, you should train, plan, and organize yourself ahead of time. Here’s how to prepare for your first Jiu-Jitsu competition.

Sign Up Early

When deciding to enter a tournament, you should have your choice solidified about two months in advance. This will ensure that you have ample time to prepare. You can work with your instructor and fellow students to train and iron out what to focus on regarding your strengths and weaknesses. An early sign-up will also help to motivate you as the date looms ever nearer. Waiting until the last minute to register will cause you to be less focused since you have no upcoming tangible goal to focus on before the competition takes place.

Know the Rules

Depending on who is putting together a Jiu-Jitsu tournament, different rules may be applied to participants. Take the time to look up the rules of the organization you will be competing under well ahead of time, as this can affect how and what you practice. You don’t want to get all the way to the day of the tournament and then find that you have been disqualified because you used an illegal technique. Thorough knowledge of the rules can also help you outperform your opponent. Pulling off maneuvers that are worth more points can make the difference between winning or losing a match, so being familiar with them is useful. In addition to placing regulations on what moves are allowed or preferable, an organization may also outline what clothing articles you can wear. Make sure you have the correct Gi and/or rash guard for the tournament day.

Adjust Your Diet

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu matches are divided up by the weight of individuals. To participate in a specific weight class, you must be at or under a specified weight limit. If you naturally teeter on the edge of weight classes, you should watch what you eat so that you can stay in the lower bracket. This way, you will face opponents who are your size or smaller. Consult your instructor on what they think is best when it comes to your target weight. Generally, you don’t want to overstrain yourself to lose a lot of pounds in your first tournament, since you will already be dealing with a lot of other stressors. Even if you sit comfortably in the middle of a weight class, you should still adhere to a disciplined diet. Avoiding processed and sugary foods and eating more natural sources of protein and fat will help to build muscle without gaining too much excess body fat. When the competition comes, you will be able to perform at your best, having consumed the proper fuel all those weeks leading up to it.

Train Plentifully

On the flip side of getting the right nutrition is taking part in the right training. As stated earlier, you should meet with your instructor to lay out a training schedule that will best prepare you for the competition. This may mean a more intensive weekly routine where you spend extra hours rolling and trying to polish your techniques. Always be attentive to your instructor’s advice so that you can improve as much as possible and strengthen your shortcomings. You should also pay attention to your physical capabilities themselves, namely your cardiovascular endurance. Use the time you have available to build yourself up so that you don’t run out of steam in the middle of a match and get submitted because of your cardio limitations rather than a difference in skill.

Create a Strategy

It’s impossible to predict every contingency, but you should still put together a basic strategy to follow in your match or matches. Think about common positions you might find yourself in and how you would proceed or respond to them. If your opponent tries to counter your move in a certain way, what would you do then? By having a few steps laid out in your mind and familiarizing your body to them through repeated drills, you are less likely to be taken by surprise. You should also take into consideration your preferred style and techniques, playing to them while covering for your weaknesses. Have your takedowns, guard passes, and escapes ready so that you are less likely to hesitate during the tournament.


With all your preparations done, you should seek to relax as you come closer to the competition. This is especially true the day before and the day of the tournament, as it is easy to feel overwhelmed and nervous as you wait for your match to start. Take your mind off Jiu-Jitsu by doing fun activities the day before and try to get a good night’s sleep. On the day of the competition, don’t watch other matches before yours if you feel too anxious. Do whatever helps you get focused, yet comfortable. For example, you can listen to music with earbuds. Stretch and move a bit to get your body ready. Through all this, remember that your aim is to learn and enjoy yourself. Whether you win or lose a match, you will have taken another step closer to becoming a skilled Jiu-Jitsu practitioner.

If you want to join Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes in Portland to learn the art and eventually compete against others, contact Northwest Fighting Arts. Here, you will find an environment where you can hone your game and have fun immersing yourself in Jiu-Jitsu.

How to Prepare for Your First Jiu-Jitsu Competition