Some of the most frequently asked questions among new BJJ practitioners is “should I compete?” Or “do I have to compete?”
The answers to these frequently confounds and causes dissension in the BJJ universe. Competing is one of the founding pillars of Jiu Jitsu, tracing its roots back to the very beginning of what is modern-day BJJ.
If it wasn’t for competition, Jiu Jitsu may have never made it out of Brazil. If the founding fathers of Jiu Jitsu had not gone beyond the measure of good reason to challenge other martial art disciplines to prove the effectiveness of the gentle art, we would not have modern-day MMA. Competition in BJJ has promoted the growth far beyond traditional borders, removing boundaries set by religion, race, orientation and physical ability.
Competition has promoted the idea of an individuals growth within a team environment, allowing for the art to evolve in an almost organic manner. No two competitors are the same, and that allows for infinite possibility in form and art.
Do you have to compete? No. Wether you compete or not, it has little bearing on how you progress through your own Jiu Jitsu journey.
So should you compete? That is entirely up to the individual. Each person tests themselves in different ways, competition is just another test of your resolve. As instructors we try to push our students to reach beyond what they see as their limitations and self-imposed boundaries, both physical, mental and emotional. We encourage a self-examination through competition, but do not force the idea on anyone.
In the end, competition is just a test, but not THE test. The true test of any BJJ student is stepping onto the mats for the very first time.