To compete in BJJ or not to compete?

It is said that a small percentage of BJJ practitioners compete in BJJ and Submission Grappling events.

There are several reasons to compete…

– Competition can make people more focused on tightening their game.
– Competition can forge bonds.
– Competition can develop teamwork and it can help us learn how to win and lose.
– Plus much more…

But is competition in BJJ necessary?

Some things that may hinder people from competing are:

-Risk of injury (or pre-existing injuries)
-Limited time to commit
-No insurance
-Lacking funds

As a former wrestler competition was really the only reason to wrestle. Many people who did not make the starting line up or back up squad would not continue but for a few.

Wrestling was based on competition and that was the norm. There were not and still are not that many solely recreational wrestling clubs around (not attached to grappling or MMA gyms). Wrestling for competition is the norm and this is how it is structured within the school systems.

Gracie Jiu Jitsu, although a self-defense art at it’s core, was brought to the US as an art with many benefits (diet and lifestyle) and was notably highlighted in a competitive setting during the early UFC events (BJJ versus other arts).

Now that BJJ has been established and widely known, it has been widely marketed for everybody. More and more recreational celebrities train which can impact the exposure (see celebs who train). Aspects of self-defense can even benefit children and the elderly alike.

Sport Jiu Jitsu and BJJ for self-defense have a lot of overlap yet there are still unique aspects that make them different within their strategies and purpose.

If you are a 45 year old new black belt who trains once a week with a family and 9-5 job without competition experience does that mean you are any less of a blackbelt compared to a 25 year old who lives at the gym and trains 2 times a day?

I think it’s an important topic to think about because BJJ is now mainstream. And personally I think if anyone chooses to train it is a credit to them and whether they wish to compete is up to them. I do think competing is a benefit to the experience if you are physically able to compete.

What are your thoughts? Is competing a must to increase your rank or credibility? If you owned a bjj academy would it be an important point to leverage or not?


Ken Primola author of BJJ Intelligence