bjj kumite win 2

Finals Match From The BJJ Kumite

bjj kumite win

Here is the finals match from the BJJ Kumite 3 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I was fortunate enough to come out on top against a tough young competitor using control on the feet and pressure passing.

During the match. The first 5 minutes were no points with the second half of the 10 minute duration being traditional IBJJF points rules.I’m actually bad about not paying attention to points during my matches. I get caught up in the roll and I’m just trying to play jiu jitsu. Which is fun to watch but sometimes I forget that I need to settle down and get my points. In Brazilian Jiu-jitsu competitions, it’s not always who’s best at BJJ that wins. It’s who plays the game the best.


So the rules during the BJJ Kumite worked well with me. And my opponent and I came right out of the gate after each other. During the match my goal was just to push the pace and put on a decent show for everyone. The BJJ Kumite was a spectator event after all. I never want to be a boring competitor. That’s worse than losing to me!


I also put up a post doing a minute by minute type deal for this BJJ competition. You can check it out here. It’s a little esoteric but you might find it interesting as it’s a clear inside of my head kind of post. I wrote the post as thoughts popped into my head that day.

Here’s the blog post.

bjj kumite win 2

Anyways, I hope you enjoy the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu match we put on at the BJJ Kumite. If you watch closely you will see plenty of the stuff that I show on the Chewjitsu Youtube channel used in the match.

As always, thanks for watching and all the support!

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BJJ Kumite Minute-by-Minute

So yesterday I fulfilled my childhood dream of winning the Kumite. While I hadn’t planned on it being the BJJ Kumite I suppose it will have to do. Considering the fact that the real Kumite from Bloodsport was all bullshit. Fun side note. I used to watch Bloodsport all the time as a kid and I believe it’s influence probably had something to do with me being in the position that I’m in now. I’m not even joking.


Yesterday while at the BJJ Kumite in Murfreesboro Tennessee I decided to keep a sort of minute by minute journal. It catalogs some of the happenings at the tournament, along with some of the weird stuff that floats through my head on the day of competition.


I’m not sure how you are during a competition. But for me at least, when I’m competing my mind has no concept of what’s after the match. Like, on a normal day you can say, “It’s Monday and I’ll do this today and then this on Tuesday and then this on Wednesday.”


When I compete there is no next day. My mind has such laser focus on the immediate, the now, rather than planning for what’s next. Which is how most of us live our lives, right? We are always planning for what’s next. The elimination of what’s next and being in the high stress environment is a interesting mixture.


With that said, let’s move on. Below are all the ramblings from yesterday. The only thing I’ve altered is the spelling and made sure the times had am or pm next to them.


BJJ Kumite Minute-by-Minute (sort of)


10am – We arrive at the venue after having some difficulty finding it. The tournament is taking place behind an ice cream store in a former clothing store. Imagine an abandoned Banana Republic and you have an idea of what it looks like.bjj kumite venue


As soon as I arrive I being my customary mingling with other competitors and teammates. This is one of the best parts. Seeing old friends.


10:13am – A short rules meeting happens and then the coaches go over arrangement of brackets together.


The time limit is 5 minutes no points and then 5 minutes points. A fault of mine is that I get going and forget to keep track of points. I sort of blank out and get involved with the roll. One of my most recent BJJ tournaments saw me dominate a guy but because I was transitioning too fast from place to place in search of the finish, I lost on points.


So I’ll just go out and try to fire off early like normal.


10:15am – Battle crap #1.


I had debated on whether or not to include this as part of the blog post. But I’ve had newcomers who think there is something wrong with them when they compete for their first time. I call them battle craps because you can read about ancient warriors lining up in formation staring across the battlefield at the enemy as they prepare for battle. And they would have to. . . well. . . you know.


10:20am – Rules meeting. Nothing unusual. justin


10:25am – I go back to the car to grab snacks, my gi and mobility equipment. Although it’s funny. My body is already preparing for the fight and I don’t feel any of my nagging injuries like my finger and pulled muscle in my back. Everything feels great. Maybe I won’t need the mobility equipment.


10:30am – Purple belts begin. My student and friend both lose their first matches. Bummer.


10:50am – I locate a source of energy. Energy for my electronically devices I have become a slave to.


11:03am – I meditate for 15 minutes to calm my nerves and remember how meaningless this whole thing is on the grand scheme of things.


It’s weird. It’s like a left over ritual from our tribal past where we as humans would pit our champions against one another to see who was the strongest.


It solves nothing, and is meaningless to most, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun and meaningful to those who take part.


This might seem like a weird mindset to take into a match but it’s helpful for me. When I was younger I was too wrapped up in the idea that I had to win. It would hamstring me from being myself on the mat. If you’ve compete, you know what I mean when I say not myself. When I was younger I would roll great in the gym and just flounder in tournaments. I would still win but it was not me. I was so worried about winning and losing that it was hard to really go for it.


By accepting the futility of the whole thing. It allows me to perform so much better. In the end, this shit doesn’t matter. So I might as well go out there, execute my style, attempt to be exciting and enjoy myself.


11:30am – Chad is informed he can’t wear his grey Gi so he borrows one from our teammate Kenny. This gi rule seems weird since this is a spectator event with IBJJF rules and ADCC time format. I figured a grey gi would be nice and flashy to stand out for the crowd.


I arrange to wear the Gi after Chad is done because I took my grey Gi with me as well.


New preparation maxim. Always bring an extra white Gi in case people are sticklers for Gi colors.


Maybe the sweat of 3 men combined into 1 Gi will give me an advantage against my opponent. A sort of biological attack designed to sting the nostrils to accompany the physical barrage of techniques.


11:39am – I find a better bathroom inside the mall right next to a cold water fountain. As I was walking out of the venue area my girlfriend feeds me a spoonful of “lemon cookie Italian ice cream.”


Water source located, post competition cheat food has been decided upon.


11:45am – Battle Crap #2
If you’re ever backed up and prune juice won’t do the trick. Just compete. End of problem.


12:41pm – My buddy Clay Mayfield put on a heck of show winning by submission.


12:55pm – Battle Crap # 3 this is usually my lucky number ever since my days in MMA.front lobby


When leaving the venue area you experience a strange contrast.


You walk through a door to Lil Mikey’s ice cream. Which is brightly lit with white walls and floors. Sprinkled with sharp colors to break up the blankness. Large windows allow sunlight to rush in which only furthers the brightness of the room as it banks off the white walls and floors.


When entering the main section of the mall you’re blasted with the smells of pizza and cinnamon rolls belching from the food court area.


As I pass consumers smiling with their purchases in hand. They look so relaxed and carefree. I can’t help but think that not even 200 feet away there are 2 dozen guys who are on edge mentally as they prepare for battle in attempt to rip each other’s limbs and neck off.


Then there’s the venue. When you walk back to the abandoned Banana Republic (or whatever store it used to be) it’s dimly lit and you can feel the energy and emotions inside the room. Not to mention the smell of victory and defeat. Which has a resemblance to body odor, mats and coconut water.
 bjj kumite venue
Anyone who has competed for long enough probably knows the feeling I’m talking about. Tournaments give off a certain feel to them. Whether it’s the Pans or a local tournament. They all have a similar vibe. It seems to hit you as soon as you walk inside.


Just an observation.


1:25pm – Chad wins 2 matches by submission against Clay. I was hoping that would be the finals. Those two are so exciting and go for the finish. It would have been a fun one to watch.


During the match Chad messed up his foot. Not sure how bad it is, but we’ll try and tape it up.Chad wins bjj kumite match


1:40pm – So his food is pretty bad. While we were taping it. Just touching it caused him to wince in pain. He insisted that he wanted to compete (which doesn’t surprise me, he’s no punk bitch). I make sure to tell him to tap if he feels anything or if the guys starts tugging on his foot.


In his 3rd match his opponent goes for the injured foot and Chad tapped. I’m probably bias but I think Chad wins that match if he wasn’t injured. But. . . thems the breaks.


1:58pm – It’s about an hour out from the start of the black belts. I’m going to stop writing and start listening to music to zone in and focus on my match.


4:53pm – Alright, so it’s all over. I’m sitting in the mall enjoying the air conditioning as my body is still trying to cool off. Passerby are looking at me curiously as I’m sure I give off the appearance of someone who just took a dunk in a pool. chewy wins bjj kumite


I was fortunate to get a bye first round. During the second round I faced my good friend Jordan Sullivan. The match match was short. Which I’m happy about. I really didn’t relish having to face my friend so early.


In the finals I faced Pedro Palhares. He gave me a hell of a fight. A scrappy kid for sure. Both of us came right at one another from the start. No feeling out process needed. I was able to secure the win via controlling the stand up and pressure passing.


One side rant. I really hate how BJJ competitors hug the line of bounds. For me the wrestling mentality of taking the center and fighting for the center is still important.


Where as in BJJ competitors just back up and skirt the boundary. It makes it difficult to go for takedowns and really get a good match going because you’re constantly having to recenter. Let just stay in the center and fight this thing out. It’s what were here to do!


I’m happy to have put on a good performance for myself , my students and my team. In the end I compete to test myself and lead from the front with my students. I’m also really happy about his giant acai bowl they gave me after I won.  It was also really good to have my longtime friend and coach Kyle at my corner. My purple belt Justin knows my game and gave some helpful tips during the match.


The win is less important than the performance for me. I can still perform well and lose. I can also perform poorly and win.


When I walk off the mat I want to know that I had no hesitation and played my game well.


5:30pm – We arrive at the closest burger place. Smash burger is a decent chain for a burger.


My purple belt Justin and I have been holding down the post competition burger tradition together since 2012.burger after bjj kumite


I have to drive so I opt for a milkshake in lieu of a beer. A successful end to the BJJ Kumite.

Beating A Purple Belt When I Was A White Belt (Accept Losing)

Beating A Purple Belt When I Was A White Belt (Accept Losing)

Have you ever competed and felt afraid of losing because you didn’t want to let people down? Instead of being focused on what you can do and how you can win. You were afraid of losing and just wanted to win. I know I’ve felt that way a lot over the years, and it’s been the cause for some of my worst performances.

Have you ever felt this way?

I know I have to tell my students to get this idea out of their head. They’ll come up to me and tell me, “I don’t want to let you down Chewy.”

I get it, I really do, because I’ve been in the position they are and I still catch myself doing it from time to time. I feel the desire to proudly represent our colors well. To win, not just for myself, but for us. . . for the team!

But many people let the fear of failure or the fear of letting someone down get the better of them when they step on the mat. I know that most of us feel a sense of duty to represent our gym a certain way.

That sense of responsibility can make someone super nervous and can cause a lot of hesitation when it’s time to compete.

Accept Losing

In my opinion, you have to accept losing as an option. It’s there and it’s possibility. Just like warriors of times past would meditate about the possibility of death on the battlefield in order to lose the fear of it. You have to accept losing is going to happen at some point. Acceptance with that possibility will allow you to be more focused on winning instead of trying not to lose.


I Beat A Purple Belt And Lost As A Black Belt

In this video I share two stories. 1 came from my days as a White Belt. As a white belt I was able to beat a purple belt in a big tournament. The purple belt was no slouch either and had more than 5 years experience on me.

The other from one of my early matches as a Black Belt where I let the fear of letting others down prevent me from showing my best self on the mat.

I know that some of my best days as a competitor came from the times where I had accepted the chance of losing and instead of being afraid of it, just decided to focus on what I can do.

If you struggle with these types of feelings. I hope the video helps!



3 Ways To Fight Hesitation On The Mat

3 Ways To Fight Hesitation On The Mat
Recently one of my white belts asked me, “How can I take away the hesistation during rolling.”

12799090_10209068728777743_1133841633196145646_nHe went on to explain that he would see an opportunity for a technique (extended arm, open neck, etc) but he felt unable to go for the move. For whatever reason he just couldn’t pull the trigger and go for it, he felt hamstrung and not willing to take the chance.

This is a problem many of us have faced and, maybe even, still face from time to time.

In this blog I’m going to share the bits of advice I gave to him and that have worked for me and my students over the years.


Drilling techniques is a great place to start. Doing repetitions of a movement helps develop muscle memory and allows your body to execute the technique faster. I’m sure you’ll agree, the more you do anything. The more efficient, and comfortable, it becomes.

This applies to hesitation on the mat because if you are noticing the opportunity to execute a technique in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. It’s often too late.

With the fast moving dynamic of rolling. You have to be able to react quickly to the situation in front of you. There just isn’t a lot of time for thinking.

Instead of noticing an opening for a technique and then watching it disappear before you can take advantage. Having your techniques drilled to the point where they’re faster and require less thinking will allow your body to take advantage of the opportunities as they pop up.

Drilling Tips

I know not everyone has all day to train. So some great times to drill are before class, after class or during scheduled open mats or open gym time. I have many students who will come in during the middle of the day just to squeeze in some drilling. They’ll tell you themselves how beneficial it’s been for their game.

It’s also smart to put effort during the drilling time that is given to you during regular class. Instead of just counting down the minutes till rolling.

Try drilling 1 technique at least a 200 times or more before moving on to a new one.

Rolling With Less Experienced Training Partners With A Purpose

Using a new technique is tough against people of the same level. If you’re going tit for tat with someone and you make a mistake. You’re probably going to be in a bad spot afterwards. So most tend to stick to their “A Game.” But in order to really develop a move, you have to use it during live rolling.

This is where you can use your less experienced training partners. When you’re against someone you can control easily. The risk for messing up is less. If you go for the technique and screw it up. You’ll probably be able to get back to a decent position. By having less fear and anxiety you can be more comfortable trying new things on the mat.

As and added bonus. While you’re boosting a weak area of your game. You’re giving that less experienced person a chance to engage and work a little. Instead of being crushed. This is more productive for you and helpful to them.

Meat Head Analogy

Here’s a short analogy. If you were going to the gym and wanted to bench press 300lbs but your max was 150lbs. You wouldn’t put 300lbs on the bar. You would build up incrementally, right? The same can be true for you with your techniques.

There’s a gap between learning a technique for the 1st time and using it against someone of the same skill level. You can fill that gap by using your less developed techniques against your less experienced training partners. Over time you’ll be more comfortable with them and you’ll be ready to try them out during your rolls with people of the same skill level without hesitation.



Think of some moves that you are working on, would like to improve or are new to your game. Then when rolling with lesser experienced Brazilian Jiu-jitsu training partners. Restrict yourself to just those techniques and avoid your “A Game.”


Mentally Conquer Yourself

Brazilian Jiu-jitsu can bring out our mental weaknesses. Which is good! It forces us to have the presence of mind to work through them.

If you are finding yourself unable to pull the trigger because you are fearful or afraid. Identify the ridiculousness of that thought process and phase it out. Think to yourself, “What is the worst thing that will happen?” At worst you will lose the match or roll. But who cares, it’s a learning experience, and by taking the chance you are improving.

You’re also conquering the fear you might have, which is valuable by itself. You cannot hope to be the best that you can be in anything, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu or otherwise, if you cannot dominate you’re thoughts and self.


Black Belt Fears

When I started competing as a Black Belt I had a lot of trouble going after it. I had a tendency to play it safe because I was afraid of losing or performing well. This fear of losing caused me to do even worse. My best matches in the beginning happened when I would be down on points and was forced to attack.

Following a bad performance I read something that stuck with me and changed my focus. Instead of focusing on beating my opponent and not losing. My focus shifted to overcoming myself, using my style of BJJ to the best of my abilities and winning.

I never wanted to walk off the mat again with the question of, “What if I would have gone for it?” burning in my thoughts. I never wanted to leave the mat with a feeling of, “I bitched out because I was scared.”

Since then I have performed the best that I ever have in BJJ competitions and it’s because I am able to let go mentally, and just go for it.


If there are particular situations that cause you anxiety or fear. Prepare for them. Whether it’s a competition or just a roll with a tough partner in the gym. Be ready to remind yourself how ridiculous it is to be fearful of trying something on the mat. There is nothing bad that can come from it. Just a chance to learn and grow. Combat the negative self talk with something positive. Give yourself a reason why you need to go for it, instead of focusing on why you shouldn’t.

For me, there is nothing worse than a “what if.” So it’s better to have went for it, than to have had the chance right in front of you and let it slip passed you because you were scared.



I hope these three tips help you improve your ability to take the chance and really go for the sweep, submission, pass or whatever it is you’re going for. You may adjust the strategies I’ve listed to suit you, which is fine. But at the very least, hopefully it will get you thinking.


Thanks for reading!


4 Tips To Deal With BJJ Tournament Anxiety (video)

4 Tips To Deal With BJJ Tournament Anxiety (video)


I had a post a while ago talking about how to deal with BJJ tournament anxiety. I know it’s something that many people find difficult dealing with (here’s the original blog ).

BJJ tournament anxiety is something everyone deals with in their own way. Even the best competitors get nervous before matches. As I’ll talk about in the video. The nerves are a necessary evil. They give you that edge to your performance and make you rise to a new level on the mats during the competition. It’s all about how we channel these feelings and use them to our advantage. In the video I’ll give you 4 tips. Accepting the nerves, focusing on yourself, using music to calm yourself and then bring your energy up when needed and using mock tournaments or new training partners to spur nervousness.  These are just 4 ways that I’ve been able to deal with it both in BJJ competitions and MMA. Ultimately you’ll have to find the ways that work best for you personally.

I hope the tips help you in any of your future competitions. Also, consult your instructor to see some of the tips they have on dealing with the nerves before a BJJ tournament.





3 things that bugged me about the 2015 Pans



So I’ve been blessed with a layover between flights and with nothing better to do. What better way to spend my time then reflecting on the 2015 Pans. Every year the IBJJF puts on the Pans and every year it’s filled with amazing displays of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu at all levels. I’m amazed at the level of the blue and purple belts these days. They are like brown and black belts from a decade ago.It’s intense! Unfortunately, It’s also always filled with various controversies which originate from the rules in place and/or by the tactics use  the competitors during the competition. I’d like to take a moment to look at some of the problems I saw this year.


The first big issue I had was seeing a high level black belt match decided by a refs decision. Nothing is more anti climactic and controversial than leaving the decision of a hard fought battle into the hands of the ref. Every ref out there will have their own bias which will reflect their relationships with the competitors as well as the way they personally practice jiu-jitsu. I know the old saying is, “don’t leave it in the hands of the judges.” But when two grapplers match up so evenly with one another this is not easy. This was the case with Tim Spriggs vs Keenan Cornelius. Both of these monsters are professionals at what they do and when they met up saturday it was as close as a match could be. Keenan was continually tangling up Tim and attempting to catch him with something from the bottom. On top, Spriggs was working aggressively for the pass. In the end, neither man was able to do enough to warrant even an advantage(I hate advantages too). In the end the ref was forced to make a decision. It was a shame too, because it would have been fun to see that match decided with a clear cut point based victory. Matches, especially black belt matches, shouldn’t be decided with a persons opinion. It should be decided a victory that can’t contested. Whether that be a sudden death format, overtime period or something else. Letting the black belts decide their fate would be an improvement.


One thing that seemed more prominent this year was grapplers fleeing the mat. Maybe this has been a problem in the past, but this year it was bad. When I say fleeing the mat I’m talking about grapplers backing up to the line of bounds so that if their opponent comes in for a takedown, they won’t lose points. There were also some grapplers just hauling ass off the mat every time their opponent got anything on them. There was one match in particular I watched where a good half guard player was up against a competitor who was better with takedowns. After an exchange of sweeps the two ended up on their feet with the half guard stylist up 2 points. With 2 minutes left there were over 10 pauses in the match caused by the ref having to recenter the grapplers. This was a result of the half guard player backing up. There were 2 penalties given to him but I mean after 10 times something has to give. If the guy doesn’t want to grapple then DQ him and send him on his way. I’m not saying be stupid and squander the lead you have, and if the remainder of the match was less, than it would be acceptable. But this was a black belt masters 3 match. Meaning it is only 5 minutes. You shouldn’t spend almost half of the match running from your opponent and the ref shouldn’t allow it. I understand that people are just trying to do what they can to win, but that is no way of winning and doesn’t demonstrate the abilities of a grappler.


The last thing I’ll rant about is the use of 50/50. This position has been a thorn in the side of big grappling competitions for around 4 years now. It’s unfortunate too. There were some really good matches this weekend that devolved into teeter tottering. There was one example I saw of this where this super tough, and exciting, brown belt from Alliance got caught in it. During his earlier matches he was attacking from every position. He was going for takedowns, passing the guard and even showed some serious sweeping abilities. He was just fun to watch. Then he got stuck into 50/50. You could see the frustration in his movements and his face. He was trying to get out of the position but couldn’t. Luckily he was ahead by an advantage and managed to keep from being knocked back onto his butt and snagged the win. But it was a clear demonstration of the ability of the position to destroy excitement and the use of versatile BJJ. Instead people get tangled up and it often times ends in this position, and not with a submission finish either. Rodolfo Viera, easily one of the most exciting and fun to watch competitors shared his thoughts on the 50/50 dilemma as well ( I’m not sure what you would do with the 50/50. Maybe order a stand up after a period of inactivity? I mean you can’t simply ban the position altogether because a few people use it effectively and in no gi competitions where leg locks are legal, it’s a deadly weapon. But in gi competitions with limited options on leg locks, it’s often used as a mechanism to stall or win by advantage. Neither of which is what we are suppose to be doing out there. We are supposed to attempt to submit our opponents, right?


The IBJJF has adjusted the rules over and over to try and fix some of the problems BJJ sport competitions have. They’ve also worked to fix many of the inconsistencies in their reffing, and I applaud them for that. I hope they continue to address the issues that present themselves because in a competition it’s not necessarily the best grappler who wins but the one who exploits the rules the best. That said, the rules have to be used to coerce the grapplers to grapple the way they want. And I think we can all agree, nobody enjoys watching controversial ref’s decisions, stalling, fleeing the mat and two grapplers tangled up with almost no real activity.



Thanks for reading.



Will I lose strength if I cut weight?

Will I lose strength if I cut weight?

One of my students recently asked a great question concerning his weight. Basically, he is the strongest he’s been in 15 years and is around 235lbs. Once football season is over (which means less beer), he plans to slim down to around 205lbs. His worry is that he will lose all his strength when cutting down and wonders if it’s a good idea.

This is a problem dealt with when I was younger. If this is a question you have personally, I’ll share the same answer I gave to my student.

Meathead syndrome

In the not so distant past I used to be several pounds heavier. From around 2008-2010 my weight bounced around 215lbs and 255lbs. I fought at 205lbs in MMA and was obsessed with lifting heavy stuff. As much as I liked being a big boy my frame isn’t suited for the weight, especially since I was competing in MMA at the time. When I decided to drop the weight, the meathead inside me was worried about losing all the strength. When I started cutting down, I did so slowly, making sure not to drop too quickly. The good news was that I didn’t lose too much strength and I became more agile on the mat. The bad news is of course that I did lose some strength. I ended up settling down to around 205lbs as my walking weight and my dead lift was still in the low 500s with my squat down to low 400s and my bench down to just breaking 300. Even though I did lose some strength I never noticed the change when I was grappling or fighting. I was enjoying the improvement on the mat. Nowadays I rarely chase big numbers in the weight room. I’ll still lift heavy (relative to me) but I am not so fixated with the poundage.

Forget the weight room

If you’re like I was, don’t get too hung up about your weight room performance. Remember, what you are looking for is improving your Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and competition in combat sports, right? Let’s say your lifts dropped by half (a huge number) but your success on the mat went up markedly (winning tournaments and being one of the top guys in the academy). Wouldn’t this be a desirable outcome? Who gives an expletive if you can move a house, if you can out grapple someone, isn’t that what matters for BJJ player? Granted, if you slim down correctly with a good diet you won’t lose half of your personal bests. And taking part in some sort of strength and conditioning regime is very important and something all grapplers should consider.

Going back to dropping the weight, it’s important to understand that you will lose some strength and that’s ok. By slimming down to a more appropriate weight for your frame you will improve your chances of being the big guy in the division and you will probably experience improved endurance on the mat since you’re not lugging that extra weight around. So you’ll be bigger for your weight class and with the added endurance you will be able to maintain your level of strength on the mats longer.

If the lifts are more important

If BJJ is more of just a hobby and you don’t plan on competing or if your personal records in the gym are more important than your Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Then I advise you to stay away from cutting. Dropping a few pounds probably won’t hurt but any sort of sizable drop will affect your lifts negatively.

Five Grappling Illinois 2

This weekend I competed at the Five Grappling Illinois 2. I wound up taking 3rd in the gi and had planned to do the no gi but I tweaked my knee (the one I had surgery on earlier this year) and I got a little spooked so I bowed out. I’m happy to say that it feels fine for the most part today.

The victories this weekend were much needed. With a disappointing performance at the Atlanta Open I was happy to snag some wins. If you’re a competitor coming off a rough loss, negative thoughts of doubt seem to have a way of following you into the next tournament. Getting some W’s help quiet them a little. Only a little though, you can’t ever get rid of them completely. While I definitely have some rust to get rid of overall I was satisfied with my performance. Although, next time I am going to work harder. I want one of their belts to take back to the gym.

I would also like to add that I was really impressed by the organization of the tournament. It ran very smoothly. I also have to say, I really enjoy 6 minute matches. They’re way more exciting. Both to take part in and to watch. Everyone was going after it. If you’ve never taken part in a Five tournament. It’s worth checking out.

Here are a few videos of my matches.



My favorite part of BJJ training


These last few weeks have been a lot of fun. Myself and all of the guys getting ready for the Atlanta Open have been pushing the intensity up on the mat as well as rolling longer and longer. There is a group of about 12 of us who are consistently coming in for extra hard drilling and rolling sessions and it’s been brutal. This is by far my favorite part of BJJ, the lead up to competitions. I love the camaraderie that develops through hard training and I don’t feel quite as close to another human than right after we beat the crap out of each other. I also get a strange enjoyment out of fatigued feeling I have the morning after a hard training session. Regardless of how the actual competition goes, I always enjoy looking back on the tough training sessions. When I think back to previous competitions. I don’t just remember the competition itself. I also remember the rough training, epsom salt and ice baths, extra cardio, shark tanks, injuries and all the other stuff that went into the preparation of those competition.

Side note / piece of advice. Try and find a gym buddy or buddies. Having people you can rely on for drilling partners and hard rolling partners leading up to competitions are invaluable.

No real point to this post other than get on the mats and train hard!



4 Ways To Deal With Anxiety In BJJ Tournaments

4 Ways To Deal With Anxiety In BJJ



My first competitive match in a one on one sport came back in 2000. Even though that was nearly 14 years ago I still remember it like it was yesterday. I was terrified. I didn’t feel like I was going out to wrestle, I felt like I was going out to my execution. Have you ever felt like this before a BJJ tournament?




About 3 years and well over 100 wrestling matches later, I had my first BJJ match. I had been training Brazilian Jiu-jitsu at this time for around 2 weeks and was given a crash course in the rules of the tournament 2 days before the competition. You’d think that the years of wrestling competitions would get rid of the nerves before a match, but it didn’t. I was still very anxious and my mind found itself in its normal irrational state, where the only thing I could focus on was the next match. Maybe it was because BJJ was new to me?




But, last year was no different. While I was warming up at various tournaments, regardless of whether it was a local tournament or a big IBJJF competition, I felt the nerves. It might come as a surprise to some, that after 13 years of competition under my belt I’m still not free of the pre match anxiety. But I’m not and I’ve actually grown accustomed to, and in a strange way, I sort of enjoy them. It kind of makes me feel alive.


A lot of BJJ practitioners have never done a one on one sport before.

Competition is something that is deeply entrenched within Brazilian Jiu-jitsu culture and many newcomers, in my experience, have never competed in a one on one sport. Because of this a lot of practitioners have never learned how to deal with the nerves before a match.  A common question I get from students is,”how do I get rid of the nerves before a match?” They always seem so surprised when I say you don’t and that I still get nervous.


The tournament I didn’t have any pre match jitters

I remember only one tournament where I didn’t get my pre-match jitters. I had just finished 3 MMA fights and when I got to the tournament I just felt super relaxed. I didn’t have my customary bubble guts (In case you’ve never heard the term, I’m talking about that funny feeling in your stomach). I came in with the outlook of “no matter what happens, I’m not getting punched in the face.” Needless to say, that tournament didn’t go so well. When I got out on the mat I was just flat and lacked that urgency needed to win a competitive match. I’ve lost matches before, but during this match. . . It’s hard to explain. I’ve been beaten plenty of times but I’ve never felt unable to fight back. This was, by far, the worst performance I can remember, ever.



Some nerves are good

You definitely wouldn’t want to get rid of your nerves completely. Your body can do some super beneficial stuff for performance when it’s stressed. But I get it, being nervous isn’t enjoyable. I remember early on in my grappling career I used to want the same thing. I thought no nerves would be helpful.  Now I understand that having nerves before a match is a good thing; it gives us our “edge.” It is important though, to have a way of dealing with the jitters. If we don’t keep our pre match anxiety in check, it can leave us exhausted before we step out on the mat.

Below I’ve listed some ways that I have personally learned to deal with the anxiety leading up to a match. This includes BJJ and MMA competitions. Keep in mind that I am probably slightly more anxious than the average person. Oh and if you’d like to read about some of the interesting things your body does when it’s stressed. Do a search for “fight or flight response and sports performance,” and you’ll find some really fascinating stuff.





4 Ways I Deal With Anxiety Before A BJJ Tournament

–          Simply accept that the anxiety you feel before a match is your body’s way of getting ready –  

I tell my students, “It’s simply your body getting ready for battle” when on the subject about their nervousness before matches. I’ve found personally and through the experiences of others, that by accepting, and anticipating that your stressed body is going to go a little haywire you can more effectively control it.

–          Focus on yourself – In my experience the most important thing to help channel my heightened focus prior to a match, is to zero in my thinking in on myself. While I am in an irrational state of mind brought on by the stress of an upcoming match, it’s very easy to build my opponent up and become fixated on the negatives. Going down a slippery slope of “what if’s”. Instead, I reel it in and concentrate only on my techniques and abilities. I visualize myself successfully using my techniques in the match and having with my hand raised. If I execute all my techniques perfectly, I win, right?  This has always helped me over the years. Especially in MMA where bodily harm is a high probability and in recent years as a black belt when every opponent is a beast in their own right.

–          Music – I try to keep myself as calm as possible before matches. When the match or fight is hours away I will listen to something that calms me. In most cases I listen to a lot of classical music. Then as the match gets close I start my warm up routine and listen to something that gets me pumped up. I find that listening to music that gets me excited long before the match ends up making me tense and leaves me exhausted by the time my match finally is up. Staying relaxed till its time leaves me with more energy for the match.

–          Practice mock tournaments with your friends in the gym – Military manoeuvres and war games are used to prepare units for battle. It gives the armed forces of a country the chance to test strategy and get an idea of how things might work without actual warfare (Sorry, military history nerd coming out again). Mock tournaments in a gym are a great way to get a taste of what it’s like in a competition without having to go to an actual tournament. We do these often in my gym. Having that clear “win or lose” situation with points involved and people watching really helps prepare us for upcoming matches. We can also test out strategy by placing ourselves in unique situations (such as being down by points with a short time limit to mimic the end of a match).


So don’t let your anxiety and nerves hold you back! Get out there and compete!


As always, if you have any questions. Feel free to shoot me a message.