Does Competing Hurt Your Training?

MJS

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While reading various forums, I often come upon discussions in which SD and competing come into play. One group says that anytime you engage in a sport, ie: competing, that in the long run it'll hurt you, as far as being able to defend yourself goes. The other group begs to differ and states that competing is good, that people who compete can easily seperate the 2, ie: SD and sport, that they're often better conditioned both physically and can often take a hit better than most.

Now, I do not compete. I do tip my hat to those that do. If we look at those that do compete, we do see guys that're much better conditioned. Sure, we'll see the handful of out of shape guys, but the majority are in pretty good shape. I do feel that it is possible, if trained properly, to do both and be capable of seperating the 2 when need be. Those that train just sport, well, IMO, I think that while some of what they do would be valid, I think that the other stuff could end up getting them hurt or worse.

I'll close with this....please do not turn this into a bash fest. I'm the first to admit that both sides can benefit from each other. I'm simply looking for other opinions on the subject.

Let the discussion begin! :)
 

ATC

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Well I am in the court that you can do both and be good at both. I think that each enhance one another.

The sport that you are doing is based in the art so you need the art to that aspect. But if only doing the sport and you become good at it then you should have no issue transitioning into the art. You will already be conditioned and would not have to worry about that aspect of the art. Most of the beginning of the art is spent conditioning the body to understand the movements and such. Someone coming from a pure sport aspect of the art and into the art would advance more rapidly than a true beginner.
 

Nolerama

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I think if you get injured in competition, it'll definitely hurt your training.

But I think competing would improve your training, simply by allowing you to go beyond the contact level you're used to in your gym, with your friends. You learn a lot more about yourself in that kind of situation, which in turn allows you to better cope with a SD situation.

But getting injured in competition sucks. I'm just now getting over a cracked rib/torn cartilage.
 

Steve

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I'm actually borrowing from an article I wrote on my blog last year, but my thoughts continue to be pretty much the same. If you'd care to read the original, it can be found here: http://www.stevebjj.com/2008/07/competition/


Here are a few of the main reasons I feel that competing is critical, even if I hate doing it:
  1. Competing forces me to address my conditioning. I had three matches in February and was more gassed than I have ever been. The pace is higher, and the adrenaline and anxiety cause fatigue. I have to be in shape.
  2. Competing forces me to address my diet. In competition, there are weight classes. While I walk around at 184 lbs and compete at around that same weight, I want to be healthy and have enough energy to get me through.

    Others drop weight, and there are good and bad ways to do that. Either way, competition forces my hand. I don’t drink as much beer in the weeks leading to a competition. I try to eat less sugar and am just more mindful of my diet.
  3. I learned more about myself in one day on the mats, and in watching my videos from those matches, than I had in the 3 months prior. I saw gaping holes in my game, areas that were exploited. Areas to improve.
  4. I also saw things that I do well. Who knew?
  5. I gained confidence in my training and my ability. BJJ is so hard on the ego. So much of our time is spent on the wrong side of a submission. So many reps before a technique works. So much time being stacked up, passed, choked or hyperextended. Add to this that as we get better, our classmates are also improving. That blue belt who kicks your butt will likely continue to do so. As you improve, he does as well. Granted, we all learn at different rates, but this phenomenon can obscure our own development. In a competition, you roll with people who don’t know your game. The difference is like Night and Day.
I'm competing more often now than I was then, and still stink at it. But as I do it more, I enjoy it more. It's fun. It's rewarding.
 

Draven

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Well here is my take on the issue, sparring is a requirement of learning to apply and adapt your training. I think those who try specificly for competition are handicapped in most SD situations because SD goes beyond techniques to mental aspects as well. Competition often builds a need to compete, so when someone challenges you as a pretext for fighting with the intent to do harm that competition mindset can hurt you.

Competition, technique wise, can & does improve techniques but siting Col Grossman from On Killing. In the heat of battle/stress of conflict you often go back to your training, a common phrase in the military is "No one rises to the occasion, everyone falls back on training" so if your competition is limited to technical profisency then yes it handicaps you SD wise. There is good and bad in everything, I'll go more indepth on this later...
 
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Steve

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Well here is my take on the issue, sparring is a requirement of learning to apply and adapt your training. I think those who try specificly for competition are handicapped in most SD situations because SD goes beyond techniques to mental aspects as well. Competition often builds a need to compete, so when someone challenges you as a pretext for fighting with the intent to do harm that competition mindset can hurt you.

Competition, technique wise, can & does improve techniques but siting Col Grossman from On Killing. In the heat of battle/stress of conflict you often go back to your training, a common phrase in the military is "No one rises to the occasion, everyone falls back on training" so if your competition is limited to technical profisency then yes it handicaps you SD wise. There is good and bad in everything, I'll go more indepth on this later...
I'm not clear. How does the technical proficiency you suggest improves with competition relate in any way to the mental aspects of SD? I mean, what exactly are you suggesting happens in the heat of battle or stress? I think maybe I'm just not getting what you mean.
 

Draven

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I'm not clear. How does the technical proficiency you suggest improves with competition relate in any way to the mental aspects of SD? I mean, what exactly are you suggesting happens in the heat of battle or stress? I think maybe I'm just not getting what you mean.

Well I needed more time to explain this better but, since I got it. Here goes, there is more to SD then most people are aware of or is commonly commercially taught even in RBSD circles.

How does the technical proficiency you suggest improves with competition relate in any way to the mental aspects of SD?

Well for the short answer allow me present a strawman arguement, Guy 1 competes in say kick boxing (system doesn't really matter so incert what you will). He is tough, fit, very technically proficient & confident his ability to defend himself. Guy 2 is some common street punk with a slip together fighting style taken from a few months here and there. Hes also tough, fit, technically proficient & confident in his ability to harm Guy 1.

Mental Aspects that Don't Come up in Competition are;
* Awareness/Education of Environmental Conditions
* Awareness/Education of Common Approachs for Criminal Activity
* Mental Conditioning for those Components of Awareness
* Mental Conditioning under stress

So going along with the strawman arguement, Guy 2 approachs Guy 1 under in pretext of anting to see how tough he is. All Guy 2 has to do, especially after observing Guy 1 is to threaten his confidence as a pretext for proving himself in a fight. Guy 2's goal isn't to fight Guy 1 but you lure him outside to be ambushed and mugged.

Awareness/Education of Environmental Conditions
Learning to spot danger zones and avoid social hot areas & actions which lead to criminal activity or violence. It comes down to learning to assess one's area, the people in it and finding the exit/entry points into the location. A simple example of this is paying attention to everyone actions and knowing the difference between normal, criminal & abnormal.

Awareness/Education of Common Approachs for Criminal Activity
Again this is knowing the difference between a person approaching you to ask for the time (a common distraction used by muggers) and someone actually not knowing what time it is. Its a combination of knowing commonly used criminal tactics and reading body language through a filter of their prior activity.

Mental Conditioning for those Components of Awareness
This is not where the education comes in at but the exercise of conditioning that awareness.

Mental Conditioning under stress
Finally comes pressure testing that awareness with a mix of sparring & avoidance drills.

None of those are factors in competition & being technicaly proficienct in technique has no bearing on them. It comes down to avoid trouble more then proving and many times school which compete place such a high focus on that competition they are limit as an SD form only on the technical level. Which means that if you can't avoid trouble you may be putting your life in danger.

I mean, what exactly are you suggesting happens in the heat of battle or stress?

Adrinal Dump and Distraction maybe even Confussion depending on the level of violence.

To follow up & be more specific following Col Grossman's work, most people lack the ability to commit violent acts or kill other human beings. However, by introducing "human-like" targets soldiers under the stress of combat increase their kill ratio, due to falling back to simulated combat experiences. Using Ali as an example; the "unsportsman like conduct" of talking trash lead to many of victories by keeping his opponent upset and distracted.

Even a person used to fighting and taking hits in competition is gonna be thrown into the initial hit of a sucker punch. So the trash talk used to close the gap or provoke an attack in most assaults is also used to set up for a head butt. Once the trash talk starts its goal is to either scare you or enrage & disrupt your game plan. In anger you allow a person to get close and even try to crowd them in turn. Allot of this is taught as awareness training but is never conditioned by simulated combat.

More so, many competition schools completely lack the training while some schools don't it all depends on the individual school but regardless there is a huge scope of more then technical proficiency to SD.
 

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Okay. I get everything you're saying, but just don't understand how competition HURTS ones ability to do these things. I mean, the awareness can be learned concurrently. Couldn't it? Competitive training doesn't preclude situational awareness training, etc. Does it?

Regarding the adrenal dump, it would seem to me that a competitor would have more experience with it than a non-competitor, and would be more likely to stay composed and aware. What are your thoughts on that?
 

still learning

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Hello, The way you train is the way you will fight....

True story....a Jutsui black belt compete in a Las Vegas MMa event...after wards....went to his car to go home couple of guys jump him to rob him....drop one atacker and put the other is a lock? ..the guy "tap out" the Jujsui let him go...ONLY TO GET STAB AND DIE! ...

Read Loran Christansan books- one of them tell you why he doesn't like his students to complete because of this sports training is a game only...fun...NOT realistic!

This happen twice to to cops in Canada and one in USA ...practice taking the gun away...than give it back in training...they practice really hard..

One day one cop face the gunman...took away his gun and give it back...in Canada the Cop die...2nd one ..his partner had to shoot the gunman who got his gun back....

Reflex- train for sporting or train for real? ...habits is hard to break!

Sport Martial arts? ....will teach you the wrong things...for the streets..!

Real fights is total chaos...NO rules, NO time outs, NO ref's, NO rest, ANYTHING GOES style of fighting- and anything around you can be use for a weapon or the other will use them first?

Which way to train one minds? ...be more REAL!

Aloha, ...the way you train? ...will be the way you fight...!

PS: Most people CANNOT..make adustments for both...Adrenlin affects will cause this...!
 

ATC

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Hello, The way you train is the way you will fight....

True story....a Jutsui black belt compete in a Las Vegas MMa event...after wards....went to his car to go home couple of guys jump him to rob him....drop one atacker and put the other is a lock? ..the guy "tap out" the Jujsui let him go...ONLY TO GET STAB AND DIE! ...

Read Loran Christansan books- one of them tell you why he doesn't like his students to complete because of this sports training is a game only...fun...NOT realistic!

This happen twice to to cops in Canada and one in USA ...practice taking the gun away...than give it back in training...they practice really hard..

One day one cop face the gunman...took away his gun and give it back...in Canada the Cop die...2nd one ..his partner had to shoot the gunman who got his gun back....

Reflex- train for sporting or train for real? ...habits is hard to break!

Sport Martial arts? ....will teach you the wrong things...for the streets..!

Real fights is total chaos...NO rules, NO time outs, NO ref's, NO rest, ANYTHING GOES style of fighting- and anything around you can be use for a weapon or the other will use them first?

Which way to train one minds? ...be more REAL!

Aloha, ...the way you train? ...will be the way you fight...!

PS: Most people CANNOT..make adustments for both...Adrenlin affects will cause this...!
Those were stupid people that is all. If what you are saying is the case then there are not any places that you can train for "REAL". 100% of all Martial Art's schools are usless. Anyone being taught anything is usless.

All training would have to be to the death or a trip to the hospital for someone. If that were the case no one would train in anything.
 
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bluekey88

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I'm in a bit of a rush, so i have not read all the responses, but I wanted to share my experience with this.

I came up in the martial arts not competing. I drank the Kool aid and wa against sullying my art(s) with competition.

Eventually, I found myself in TKD...my kids got into comeptiion ande I gradually got into coaching. It was educational, and my feelings against competition softened.


Last year, I decided that i wanted to try my hand at competing. there's a rather long thread about my experiences over the course of my training.

here's the upshot...I didn;t get really good at TKD until I started training for competiion. The condittiong (both mental and physcial) transformed me. My attention to detail, and my understanding of not just what I needed to learn to compete...but all other aspects of the art went up several notches. Not only that, but my understandig of arts I'd long since stopped training in increased. I now understand whyat I was doing n Aikido years ago with a depth that I never had prior to making thre decidison to train for ocmpetiion...to train harder and with more focus.

Competing made me a more complete and skillful martial artsit. that can't be a bad thing.

Peace,
Erik
 

celtic_crippler

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Some people are so one-dimensional...

From the SD aspect, there's no real substitute for actual combat; however, one probably won't live long if participating in actual combat is how one trains.

So...

We use several methods & tools to develop the skills needed to defend oneself if the situation calls for it:
  • Practicing prescribed self defense techniques
  • Practicing forms/kata
  • Practicing sparring
  • Practicing other drills to enhance certain aspects of SD
  • Practicing the basics
  • Practicing the application of principles (that's where you really have to use your noodle, lol)
You can't build a house with just one tool... I suppose you could try, but would probably end up with a pretty crappy house. You first must establish a solid base, a foundation; and then build up from there.

All the methods used in training in the dojo are tools to help build your house. Your house is your refuge and sanctuary; it's what you depend on to help keep you safe and warm. LOL

To build your house you need to use all the right tools at your disposal. In martial arts, competition (or sparring) is simply one of many tools.

Ommit a tool from your tool box and your house will not be as sturdy. You'll have to rely on a wrench when a hammer is needed. Know what I mean?

So, take advantage of all your tools. Be multi-dimensional and excel in all methods of training and you'll be just fine if & when the time comes that you have to defend yourself.
 

Haze

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I think there is room for both. What needs to be done, IMO, is that the training needs to be defined so the students understand the difference.

And the saying goes, jack of all trades, master of none. Train for both and be good at both but not great at either.
 

Marginal

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I'd think that competing only hurts as much as how specialized the rule set is for the competition.

For example, a full contact fight with limited rules would probably aid the competitor in a SD situation due to the conditioning required, and they'd have fewer things to adjust to in a unarmed SD situation.

A style that brings with it no contact "our moves are too deadly for that!" mock sparring with frequent stops and starts to award points probably wouldn't transfer well outside of that rarefied world the practitioners have elected to dwell in.
 

blindsage

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IMO, competition can be great for learning how to deal with a non-compliant opponent, and the conditioning required is often high, but at the same time all competitions have rules and limitations and are not reflections of most SD scenarios. As long as that is understood and there are other methods incorporated into your training to prepare more realistically for SD (or you're just into the sport and don't particularly care about SD), then I don't see any conflict.
 

Steve

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another thing not often mentioned is that competition keeps things fun. If you enjoy competition and competing keeps you training, that's a good thing. Right?
 

still learning

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Those were stupid people that is all. If what you are saying is the case then there are not any places that you can train for "REAL". 100% of all Martial Art's schools are usless. Anyone being taught anything is usless.

All training would have to be to the death or a trip to the hospital for someone. If that were the case no one would train in anything.

Hello, You are right ....ask any soldiers after they come back...and ask if training was like a real combat situtions...?

Ask anyone who was attack...if the training in classes...help you survive a real fight?

Look at black belts that fight in the streets? ....You will see more a street figthing style...NOT much MA style..for movies?

Things are different on the streets...

NO matter the fields you in? ...REAl stuffs will always be different from classrooms training...

...One does not need to believe what (we) or I say....the truths is on the real streets....(NOTE: Every situtions can or will turn out differently...

Thank-you for your point of views...THESE ARE MINES ONLY...

Aloha, perfer real "peanut butter"

PS: ...wonder where this came from? "The way you train..will be the way you fight!" .... WE ARE CREATURES OF HABITS...!

To ATC ...To train for reals? ...Yes ..NOT wise ...there for -NOT possible...just that you want to get as real as possible...JUDO is good -throws are for real!
 
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still learning

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Hello, Creatures of Habits...Habits we do not think about?

Which shoes goes on first? ...do both socks go on first or one socks than one shoes and then is it left or right goes on first..habits

Toilet paper? ...left hand or right hand?

Taking a bath where do you start to wash first...? face, hands, legs,arms, etc...habits we all start the same way every shower...

Do you take a shower at nights and nightly or just mornings or one a week? ...habits

When you wake up? what is the first thing you do everymorings? same for coming home from work..

Habits are things we do...lots of times ..."WITHOUT THINKING" ....

When in a fight? ....one will NOT have time to think...you MA habits may kick in! ...depending on your training...and in ADRENLINE MODE TOO...will not be the same in a friendly enviromental classrooms...

Aloha, ...bad habit ....posting here? ....NOT! ...UM?

PS: What do you order first at MacDonalds? Habits hard to break? .....
 

Draven

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Okay. I get everything you're saying, but just don't understand how competition HURTS ones ability to do these things. I mean, the awareness can be learned concurrently. Couldn't it?

Yes and no, you can learn awareness while competing but knowing what to be aware of takes time away from training for competition. For example, I create scenario drills where students sparring in street cloths but under conditions reflexive of a self-defense situation. Such as when carrying a bag of groceries to the car & being assaulted by outside in the parking lot, between cars & often set up multiple BBEG (Big Bad Evil Guys) so that the student which is the real threat and which isn't.

The Goal of the exercise is a) looking for "tells" the send up red flags, b) allow students to face actual combat conditions; wind, rain, snow, uneven ground & small spaces & c) to give them a memory in reference to real world conditions. Now granded my students sometimes compete in Sport Jujitsu tournamnets, the goal of training is less in competition but in addressing the SD on multiple levels.

Competitive training doesn't preclude situational awareness training, etc. Does it?

It can, yes... It doesn't have to but most competition schools simply focus on the rules of the sport and individual skill of the competitors. While sparring and inter school comeptition is required for building profciency in techniques it leaves allot of ground uncovered SD wise.

Regarding the adrenal dump, it would seem to me that a competitor would have more experience with it than a non-competitor, and would be more likely to stay composed and aware. What are your thoughts on that?

Thats something I can agree with, within context. Being able to handle an adrenal dump is based on several factors. A competing fighter used to the adrenal dump under the conditions of competition will have "more experience" then a non-competitor under the conditions of competition. But. Newbie jitters aside, competition and a real fight or being on the recieving end of a criminal assault (self-defense) is completely different.

First off, I need to address what adrenoline is and for that I'll refer to Wiki which gives the basic discription of "Epinephrine (also referred to as adrenaline; see Terminology) is a hormone and neurotransmitter.[1] When produced in the body it increases heart rate, contracts blood vessels and dilates air passages and participates in the "fight or flight" response of the sympathetic nervous system."

Note that adrenoline has the effects of increased heart rate, contracts blood vessels, dilates air ways and participates in the "flight or flight response" (I'll address this next). So Physically, you have increased nuero response; which also means faster thought processes (take note of that BTW) & faster actions. Your blood pressure rises with heart rate & your body takes in more oxygen from the dilated airways & as your blood vessel contract, also a factor in increased blood pressure, it spreads hormones and oxygen to the muscles in actions.

Secondly, as I promised more on the flight or fight response. Thats a theory which is very limited in scope because sociologists & psychologists have broken the flight or fight response to four actions; Posture, Fight, Flight or Submit. Thats the "default primate setting" of our brain and training can/is proven to effect that default setting. When faced with a threat of violence we have four automatic instinctive responses, those responses are based on past experience and yes even aquired knowledge.

If you associate loud bangs as gun shots; while others are looking around when a car back fires you're dropping prone. Simply because your mind has developed a pattern of thought that "bang = gun shots." So when the adrenoline hits your primate instincts plus your conditioned pattern of thought will effect your responses. If you have been conditioned to think of a threat of violence as a challenge to compete, common to many competition minded individuals, it will effect you automatic responses.

Course so will anything you mentally connect psychologically with any similar outside stemuli. Most commonly regardless of training, due to the fact that most people don't trained under conditions which allow you access and reprogram the primate response insticts in their brains, people still act out based on those primate response. When threaten with violence, we threaten back once the adrenoline hits (posturing) and many times it comes about from "racing thoughts" that lead to asumptions we make. Following the Threat Posturing, we have three basic responses; Fight, Flight or Submission.

Following that a mugger who approachs us with a gun and demands money, will automatically a subcontious & contious cause a response Threat Posture leading to a further show of intent by the mugger. Most commonly the response to this stimuli is going to be either Fight (disarming), Flight (running away) & Submission (giving the mugger money). Freezing, is generally an involuntary "over thinking" of the situation under the Adrenoline Dump.

Finally with all that explained, it comes down to the fact that if we quite simply have no reference to associate with a thought pattern we may make assumptions based on the untrained primate instincts. Sooo, while competition may make for a better fighter technically it may also be subject to the primate thinking.

The Adrenal Dump to someone trained both recognize and apply an educated awareness of various tactics, sets ups and factors of human behavior will be able access those reference, especially if added to competition style sparring. So its not so much that competition is incapable of addressing these things but that the rules of competitons simply do not allow & when in the alien environment of fighting outside the ring much of the technical proficency may be wasted on decisions based on an uneducated or confused state which leads back to the primate thought processes.

another thing not often mentioned is that competition keeps things fun. If you enjoy competition and competing keeps you training, that's a good thing. Right?

I agree 110%
 
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MJS

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Sorry folks, been a bit busy, but now that I have time, I'll comment. First off, great replies so far. :)

As I said, I think that both have their benefits. I do see what Draven is saying...I think...and I've said the same thing. IMO, if you're just operating in a competition mindset, when it comes down to SD, are you now going to be able to change and adapt to that mindset, or will you be following the 'you fight like you train' mentality? I feel that unless you specifically train for it, then yes, chances are, you will operate in the competitive mindset, thus running risk of injury to yourself.

Is it possible to develop awareness and the Sd mindset? Probably, but again, this will require extra training...training that the sport probably will not give you. The adrenal dump was mentioned and whether or not the sport will give that. I think that it will to a point, but will that dump be the same 'feeling' as when someone is really trying to take your head off?
 
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