Is Competition for Everyone?
The Gracie Barra CompNet Cup is coming back to Phoenix this fall.
The success of the last GB CompNet Phoenix Spring tournament a few weeks ago made me think a lot about the central role competition has in our sport and why it is so ingrained in the cultural DNA of Gracie Barra.
Many Jiu-Jitsu teams decide to emphasize only the self-defense aspects of BJJ.
I can tell from my own experience growing up at Gracie Barra that was certainly not the case.
Even though Master Carlos Gracie Jr., and his team of instructors, stood for a well rounded Jiu-Jitsu game which included, of course, a strong emphasis in self-defense, competitiveness was always an essential element of our training environment.
Being part of a competitive team did not mean everyone had to participate in tournaments. It meant we were encouraged to engage on the right level of competition to keep us challenged, test our techniques, and, thus, helping us getting better.
It took me many years to realize that we were not training to compete. It was actually the other way around. Instead, the competition was part of our training.
The emphasis was not at the result of a tournament, but on the experience and lessons learned during the process. We would fight to win, of course, but the memories and lessons we brought home, and the growth that would follow, had much more value than any medal.
Is Competition for Everyone?
So here is the main question I have been grappling with since the GB CompNet Phoenix Spring Cup: Is Competition for Everyone?
You can see a more in depth answer on the video below, but my short answer is yes.
The right form of competition is for everyone who is a serious martial artist. By serious, I mean a person who truly wants to achieve his or her personal best through practice.
The definition of martial artist is a person who practices the art of combat and, at least in my opinion, the art of combat cannot be practiced unless we are constantly challenged to step outside of our comfort zone
Encouraging our students to engage with the right kind of competition is a duty I hold seriously as an instructor. But it is also my duty to encourage them to compete for the right reasons.
Competition is not a form of war. In fact, the the word competition comes from a latin word "Competere" which meant to "strive in common" or "strive together". We don't compete against someone, we are not driven by hate or anger. We compete with someone, we are driven by gratitude and appreciation.
This shift in mindset is important.
When I attempt to answer the question, is competition for everyone? I answer with a big yes because competition to me is defined as something much broader than a tournament but also because I look at it as an opportunity to test ourselves, learn and grow.
I hope all of our students to compete at a level they are relatively safe, have chances of winning, while being challenged to reach deep inside to their very best.
Jiu-Jitsu invites us to live a life of growth, not comfort.
See you on the mats.
- Flavio Almeida
P.S. Registration for the GB CompNet Phoenix Fall Cup is opened. The event will take place at ability 360 on November 16th. For more info click here