Competitions are one of the most thrilling aspects of being a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner. Though some people learn the art for self defense purposes, competing can help to take your skills to a whole new level. As an instructor, it is crucial to set standards for yourself and students before allowing them to compete in a tournament.
It may come as a surprise, but emotions play a huge role on determining a student’s readiness. Having control over your emotions during a competition is something that many athletes, especially young ones, struggle to maintain. When a student is able focus solely on the sport and the sportsmanship that goes along with it, they are then well on their way to being considered for competition.
Protection is the most important standard that I set for my students. If I, as the instructor, feel they are unable to protect themselves against other students with similar experience, they are not only risking their safety but the safety of their opponent. If you are teaching a class of the same belts, it is important to compare the students to one another. Although everyone learns differently and at various paces, making sure that the individuals are able to compete reasonably with their classmates is important. When it comes to comparing students, it comes down to safety. The student must be capable and comparable to other belts in the class only in terms of their safety and the safety of their partners. If they are incapable of protecting themselves, or their emotions, than I do not recommend they compete.
The true determinant in deciding, is not the ability the student possess but the level of dedication. BJJ is something that is not perfected overnight. While many beginners come in with natural talent and abilities, it is their passion and commitment to the sport that proves their readiness to me. If a student shows up consistently, attends competition classes and works hard, that means more to me about the preparedness. For someone with natural talent who only shows up once every few weeks and doesn’t train hard, I would feel as though they are less than ready to compete.
Commitment and passion are two of the traits every BJJ fighter should possess. For students of any level, criteria should be set before heading into competition. As an instructor, knowing your student’s abilities and dedication helps to decide whether they are ready or not for competition.