Adopting a competitive mentality

Ivan

Black Belt
Joined
Apr 8, 2018
Messages
577
Reaction score
272
Hi. As many of you know I have begun to compete in jiujitsu. I have attended two competitions now, for a total of four matches, and have also watched teammates compete and noticed different things. I have another competition coming up at the end of this month, a round-robin tournament and, of course, I have a desire to win and to do well.

During a number of a specific teammate's matches, I noticed that he was very aggressive towards his opponent. Walking them down, glaring and all in all, having a very "love you" type of attitude towards them. I mainly noticed it in the way that he grabbed their collars, in a rough and almost angry manner. In comparison to footage of my matches, I see myself not having this; it's almost as if I am unable to channel any aggression. It's very difficult for me to conceptualize into words, but it seems the aura or attitude toward my opponents is completely different - I think this is best highlighted at the start of my matches when I am fighting for grips. The difference between the intent I do it with and the one that my teammate does it with is very broad. It's almost as if he has a clear-cut goal to hurt them, whereas I simply want to survive and win.

I was hoping people with more experience than me in competitive combat sports could help me understand whether this mentality is beneficial and whether I should strive to adopt it. I've always been naturally timid and kind-hearted, so I feel that no matter how hard I try, I can't instill a desire to hurt my opponent. Is this something I need if I want to continue down this path? I have my rituals for competition, as I competed in swimming for 6-7 years, but that's a completely different sport.

So to summarise, I am wondering what type of mentality should I adopt for competition, and how do I go about doing this? Thank you.
 

Tony Dismukes

MT Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Nov 11, 2005
Messages
6,583
Reaction score
5,712
Location
Lexington, KY
Here's the thing: developing clear focus and intent for your actions in competition is important.

But - that focus and intent doesn't have to be mean or aggressive or involve the intent to hurt your opponent.

For your consideration, I would like to present to you the man who possibly enjoys himself more during rolling and competition than anyone else in all of BJJ: Jeff Glover.
In case you couldn't guess, Jeff is the guy wearing a tank top and brightly colored shorts.
 

Bill Mattocks

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Feb 8, 2009
Messages
15,007
Reaction score
3,362
Location
Michigan
I can't speak to your question directly. I have a friend who competes in karate tournaments and he listens to metal music and gets himself into a very aggressive mood when he bows in to fight. I myself do not do that. I feel the need for clear, clean thinking in order to move well and fluidly. I suppose everyone is different in that sense.

I am reminded of one of the precept of karate as self-defense, however:

"When your temper rises, lower your fists. When your fists rise, lower your temper." Chojun Miyagi
 

isshinryuronin

Master Black Belt
Joined
Feb 28, 2019
Messages
1,356
Reaction score
1,349
Location
Las Vegas
I've always been naturally timid and kind-hearted, so I feel that no matter how hard I try, I can't instill a desire to hurt my opponent.
Another honest introspective question from you! I put myself into the same category, and it can be a liability in fighting/competition till you sort it out. At the same time, it's what makes you different from a thug. "A kind-hearted fighter?" Confusing on several levels. But Tony's post points the way for you.
Here's the thing: developing clear focus and intent for your actions in competition is important.

But - that focus and intent doesn't have to be mean or aggressive or involve the intent to hurt your opponent.
First, we must realize that real combat and sport (while sharing many similarities) are two different things in regard to intent, and the techniques flowing from that intent.

In competition, the only goal is to win according to the rules. Often, this can be accomplished without hurting the opponent (too much). One must be aggressive (differing from Tony's view, though this may just be semantics) and impose your will on the opponent, but without being mean seeking to injure him (as you would in a real fight for survival).

I think the way to approach competition and avoid Ivan's moral dilemma is to concentrate on the technical problem-solving aspect. Tactically executing your techniques. Physical chess. Play aggressively according to the rules and execute well.

This is much different than desiring to hurt your opponent. It may happen as "collateral damage," but it shouldn't (and doesn't have to) be your intent.
 

_Simon_

Senior Master
Joined
Jan 3, 2018
Messages
3,925
Reaction score
2,336
Location
Australia
Great question Ivan, and agree with all the answers above. That sort of mentality just isn't necessary for success in competing. I'm also the same personality as you, and I'm not interested in that mentality. You can have aggression without the emotional overlay of anger or "kill-mode" (again, semantics with the aggression word, I see it as a sense of non-hesitation, going for it, drive, intent etc).

My last comp a couple of months ago (striking based comp though), especially in the continuous sparring, a few of my competitors had the ol angry-face on and were unnecessarily aggressive. This was a contact event but not knockout/knockdown, so your aim isn't to hurt your opponent. I managed to beat those guys, and lost in the finals. My competitor in the final? One of the nicest, gentlest, respectful guys I've had the pleasure of competing against. But a darn force to be reckoned with, and he dominated me haha.

Had many words with him and congratulated him, and he said multiple times, "oh I just do it for fun". Awesome.
 

Kung Fu Wang

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
12,116
Reaction score
3,517
Location
Austin, Tx/Shell Beach, Ca
I am wondering what type of mentality should I adopt for competition, and how do I go about doing this? Thank you.
It's better to play offense and lost than to play defense and win. The person who plays offense will have a future.

No matter how

- bad your hip throw may be, one day you will be able to use your hip throw to throw your opponent.
- good your hip throw counter may be, if you don't train hip throw, you will never be able to use hip throw on your opponent.
 
Last edited:

JowGaWolf

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Aug 3, 2015
Messages
11,935
Reaction score
4,480
Hi. As many of you know I have begun to compete in jiujitsu. I have attended two competitions now, for a total of four matches, and have also watched teammates compete and noticed different things. I have another competition coming up at the end of this month, a round-robin tournament and, of course, I have a desire to win and to do well.

During a number of a specific teammate's matches, I noticed that he was very aggressive towards his opponent. Walking them down, glaring and all in all, having a very "love you" type of attitude towards them. I mainly noticed it in the way that he grabbed their collars, in a rough and almost angry manner. In comparison to footage of my matches, I see myself not having this; it's almost as if I am unable to channel any aggression. It's very difficult for me to conceptualize into words, but it seems the aura or attitude toward my opponents is completely different - I think this is best highlighted at the start of my matches when I am fighting for grips. The difference between the intent I do it with and the one that my teammate does it with is very broad. It's almost as if he has a clear-cut goal to hurt them, whereas I simply want to survive and win.

I was hoping people with more experience than me in competitive combat sports could help me understand whether this mentality is beneficial and whether I should strive to adopt it. I've always been naturally timid and kind-hearted, so I feel that no matter how hard I try, I can't instill a desire to hurt my opponent. Is this something I need if I want to continue down this path? I have my rituals for competition, as I competed in swimming for 6-7 years, but that's a completely different sport.

So to summarise, I am wondering what type of mentality should I adopt for competition, and how do I go about doing this? Thank you.
If you are looking for a competitive game face then you have 2 options that I think are most intimidating.
1. Look terrifying
2. Look relaxed and focus.

#1 deals with acting and putting on a show. This could backfire on you in a bad way. You can look at videos on youtube where people try to intimidate people this way only to get KOed or to lose really quick and in a bad way. When done incorrectly it will cause you to focus on things that aren't important to winning the match.

#2 Is the most the best option in my opinion. #1 doesn't shake me at all. To me it's like a little dog making a lot of noise trying to be scary. However, that guy that looks relaxed, focus, and ready tells me that he's got one goal in his mind and that I'm about have a rough time. It also tells me that he's not concerned about my feelings or any game face that I want to put on. That relaxed and focus look tells me that he's already on the mats and in the fight before it even starts. He's a step ahead of me before the match even begins. People like this is like the big dog that stares you down, waiting for an opportunity or a reason to bite you. Focused on the task to come.

If you want a mindset for competition then my first recommendation is to just be yourself. If that's not good enough then be relaxed and focus on the task to come and watch them shake.

There's 3rd look that some people like to give. Some people like to look carefree. This will sometimes lull your competitor in the wrong mindset for the competition. It will make them be less serious about the competition because you look as if you aren't serious. I wouldn't take that route myself because you run into the risk of falling into carefree attitude that can get you into big trouble. We often see this when boxers show boat. Option #2 is just the safest route for most people. Be relax, Be focus.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

MT Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 4, 2012
Messages
10,310
Reaction score
4,250
Location
New York
Regarding your question, I can't answer regarding BJJ comps specifically, but can for other martial sports/comps (and also other sports in general, in my experience).

There are always people who have that aggressive attitude. In the beginning stages they've got a good advantage from it, but at some point that ends (they don't necessarily become at a disadvantage, they just no longer have an advantage). Knowing what you want and having confidence to execute your plan is key, but that doesn't require becoming aggressive. It can, and particularly having spurts of that in the match when people aren't expecting it, is a good strategy, but if you're not naturally that aggressive a-hole when competing, don't force it, since it'll just interfere with your own game.

That said, while it's not really a disadvantage in competition, it is a distinct disadvantage somewhere else. Let's say that you become very active in your local tournament scene, and do develop your attitude. People notice you're unnecessarily rough/aggressive both in and out of the matches themselves (it's tough to turn off, and trust me, people do notice). Now, let's say that something happens, either your dojo closes down, raises prices, change the schedule, you move slightly, and you have to find a new dojo. Or on a less extreme basis, you start attending seminars. Suddenly some of those competitors are your training partners. Do you really think they want to train and help out someone they've only known to be an a-hole?
 
Top