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Jiu Jitsu Competition: What you NEED to know

Matt Strucker takes home 2 MORE GOLD medals at the Subspectrum Comp in Des Moines, IA

To attend a Jiu Jitsu Competition is to challenge yourself against individuals from other gyms that train the same Martial art as you. Competitions vary in rule set, weight classes, and age classes. They are all a test of skill and ability of what you have learned in your gym and how much you have pushed yourself. This is where you put the skills and techniques to the test under direct pressure.

At Pella BJJ, we do not require members to attend a competition for their promotions in Jiu Jitsu, however we do highly recommend it. Competition is the best test of your skill against someone new that has learned from another gym. It will show if you have been training against those that challenge you or if you are just showing up and attending class. Our belief is that everyone should compete once as a white belt to have that understanding and knowledge. Luckily, we have several people that do compete and push all of our members every day on the mats. This helps to ensure that all members of Pella BJJ not only have a technical understanding, but they can also employ that skill under real pressure.

So what do you NEED TO KNOW?


Lets break down the brackets:

Skill set: While competing in GI, it is easy to pick out belt color. The while belts go against the other white belts and so on though the ranks for both kids and adults. For kids they may get paired with someone close to them in Belt rank if they have no one else in their bracket (all the Gray belts can be lumped together).

In NO-GI, they rank Beginner, Intermediate, and Expert. These are broken up by years of experience in grappling and not just by belt color or Jiu Jitsu experience. It is often seen as Beginner as white belt or 2 years or less grappling, Intermediate as blue belt (sometimes purple belt) or 4 years or less of grappling, and Expert as purple (or Brown belt) and up or more than 5 years grappling.

Head Coach Daniel Robbins and Coach Tyler Waddle with the Gas Boys in Des Moines, IA.

Both boys took home GOLD medals

Weight Class: Each competition is different, but most competitions have weight class for adults from 135lbs to over 230lbs or "open weight". This means that everyone over the 230 lbs limit in those skill sets will be lumped in together. An example would be someone 235lbs would be in the same bracket as someone who was 320lbs. Other weights are broken up sometimes by 10lb increments or more. Open weight can be different for each competition so make sure to check the rules when you sign up. For kids, the weight classes vary but can become very confusing due to the age of this child. Age and skill seems to be most important when it comes to kids.

Age Class: This is mostly for kids but also affects older people looking to compete. The youngest age class is 4-6 year olds. As you can image, not many 6 year olds advance past the Gray series belts, or are more heavy weight (above 75lbs). However, it can be the case that a much younger person can be a higher skill or larger weight. 16 years old is considered to be adult level but some competitions have teens ranks that go to 18 years old. With four different belt series (14 belts total) for younger people, matching directly can be challenging. Most of the time the age range for kids are within 2 years and girls/boys compete together. At the age of 11-13, most competitions will split the boys and girls into their own divisions.

For Adults, 18 to 29 years old is the standard age range in all skills. Many competitions have a Masters division for 30 years old and older. Some competitions will also have a Directors 40 years old and older and a Seniors 50 years old and older. A few that we have seen will also break this down further and have a Masters 1 and a Masters 2, which splits the 30 year olds in half.

David, Daniel, Ashley, Matt, and Rylen all at the Fuji Comp in Iowa City, IA.

If you are alone in your bracket, the coordinators will do their best to pair with you with someone close to you in age, weight, or skill (often in that order). Those in the Master group can find themselves in the younger group or in a higher weight class if they are alone in their bracket. It is possible to end up in the next lower weight class as well, but we don't plan on that. Each Competition that we have been apart of has done an amazing job to keep the brackets filled and promoting their events so they get the maximum amount of competitors. Like wise, if the bracket it too full, they will split the bracket into pods. This way, each person should have 2-6 matches for each division they sign up in.



The biggest take away is that no matter what competition you sign up for, talk to the other members of your gym. Find the people that have gone before or have been around a comp and get their take from it. You should want to try and attempt at least one comp while you are a White Belt just for the proof that what you are doing is working. We suggest to be at least a two stripe White Belt before entering into a comp. If nothing else, talk to your head instructor. Most people that stick with BJJ long enough to be a head instructor will have attended at least one comp. Hopefully many.

It is also a big help to attend open mats at other gyms. Training with new people helps to demonstrate what you do that works and what doesn't. However, you need to talk to this new gym and let them know what your intentions are when entering a gym you are not a member of. Going full blast on your first partner is a surefire way to not make friends. Not everyone that shows up to an open mat is looking to train like they are at a comp. REMEMBER: It should not be about EGO! Everyone will give you different pressure and different responses.

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