Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Compete with Caution and with Awareness

Warning: the above video is extremely graphic in nature.  Watch at your own risk.

In the above video, an amateur fighter dislocates his knee or breaks his leg (the exact injury is not immediately apparent, but the injury is gruesome) while defending a takedown.  The injury is visibly serious, and I would be surprised if the injured fighter is ever able to compete again.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and mixed martial arts are growing sports.  More people are watching, and more people are competing.  As a student and as an instructor, I often see fighters that are eager to compete, both on the mat and in the cage.  Excitement and eagerness are good qualities in this sport, but overeagerness can be dangerous.  Jumping into competition without the proper training is an unnecessary risk, yet I often see fighters with too little experience strapping on 6 oz. gloves and cranking up their walk-out music.  Everybody wants to be an Ultimate Fighter or a grappling all-star, and far too few voices are encouraging moderation.

I frequently tell students that they should wait before competing.  It's a difficult talk to have, but I would rather a student hate me than jump into a fight unprepared.  I have had this talk with one month white belts that wanted to compete before they knew how to finish a triangle, and I have had this talk with career wrestlers that simply were not allotting themselves enough preparation time.  No matter what anyone tells you, no championship or plastic trophy is worth risking injury.

Competition is fun, and it can be a great way to test your skills, but it is not nearly as important as fight promoters and highlight reels might make you believe.  Your day to day training should be a top priority, which means maintaining an acceptable standard of health for a long period of time.  Jumping into competition too soon or even if you are injury prone (cursed with poor genetics, like me) is irresponsible.  Instead, make goals that you can meet in the gym, and know that you do not have to compete to have a successful grappling career.

Your instructor should be understanding of students that are uninterested in competition, and your instructor should be honest and frank with students about their preparedness or lack thereof.  If you are not in such an environment, find one, and in the meantime, put your health first, always.

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