When your school is gearing up for a competition and everyone is training at the highest level of intensity prepping for the tournament and you are not, what are you supposed to do? Maybe you think you are not experienced enough to help or get much out of the class, maybe you are rehabbing an injury, or maybe you (like me) are older and not too interested in competition. Is this just a good opportunity to take some time off? Maybe, but probably not, there are many ways you can help your teammates out and still benefit from going to class.
Let’s look first at some things you can do to help your teammates out:
Positional sparring. If your training partner is a much better grappler than you and they are in competition mode you may not be able to offer them “a good match”. Pushing them physically is probably not in the cards, but you can ask them what they’re working on for the tournament and then volunteer to start from that position.
Pace yourself. If you can’t keep up at their pace, set a pace you can keep. Most competitors, I think, would rather a good steady round for the regulation time than to have you gassed half way through.
Don’t spend time in stagnant positions. If you’re stuck, move. If you’re in top position and unable to finish the match, transition to something else and look for the finish from there.
Offer encouragement and (when appropriate) feedback. If you are newer to the game it may not be the time to be offering advice or coaching, but you can still be there for support and encouragement. If you have been training for some time, but are not in comp mode, you may have valuable insights to offer your teammates.
This is great and will be helpful to your teammates, but we know that you are on the mats so you can get better at jiu jitsu. How will going to class for competition training benefit you when you are not in competition training?
You WILL get better. You may feel like you’re just getting your ass kicked, but trust me; you are absorbing information and learning more about yourself and your limits. You’ll get a chance to see how your technique works when your training partners are trying a little harder to win.
You will benefit from the strengthening of the team and the development of a deeper team comradery. These are some of the things that will keep you on the mats and get you through the times you wonder if it’s all worthwhile. These are also some of the things that are, for many of us, at the core of why we do jiu jitsu.
If you are there for your teammates, they will be there for you. One day you will be prepping for a tournament, or trying to polish up some techniques as a promotion approaches, or maybe even having personal issues off the mats and your teammates will remember that you were there for them. They will be there for you.
In conclusion: It’s easy to think if the class or curriculum is not suited to us, that that is a problem….in the words of one of the greatest mariners of all times, Capt. Jack Sparrow, “the problem is not the problem, your attitude about the problem is the problem”. Go, learn something, have a good time – you’ll be glad you did.