The below article is a piece written by Tammi Musumeci.
I stumbled across this article late last year. It is a unique piece giving you a look at what its like to be a high level competitor in the BJJ world. For those of you who have not heard about Tammi, she is a BJJ Black Belt who became one of the worlds best grapplers at the age of 19. In 2014 Tammi took home the gold at the Pan Ams beating two former world Champs on her way to the gold. She is as equally impressive in the Gi as she is in No-Gi having proven her self on the world stage in both forms of the art. Take a read of the article and see what competitions are like from Tammi`s viewpoint.
Competing is truly a unique experience that one can’t relate to or understand unless he or she experiences it personally. When you compete, you are putting yourself in one of the most intense, uncomfortable positions imaginable: in the middle of a heated conflict. Now, critics will complain with the use of the words “heated conflict” to describe a friendly competition that has rules and is supervised to prevent the competitors from getting hurt, the competitors are trying to inflict pain on one another so they could become the victor under an immense amount of pressure. A heated conflict is one where both opposing parties are in intense conflict with a large amount of pressure, so yes, they are pretty much the same thing. Confrontation is a huge fear for most of the population and by competing, you are voluntarily putting yourself in a confrontational situation, but why do we choose to do it?
The most simple answer to this question could be because we want to challenge ourselves to be the best possible that we could be. It goes deeper than this though. To challenge oneself is a very broad concept because there are many ways to challenge yourself and most of them don’t involve undergoing a pressure-filled situation like competition. I feel that competitors must love the adrenaline rush as well. There is no other adrenaline rush than being in a heated match. This adrenaline rush causes the competitor to do things that they normally wouldn’t do when under a normal mindset.
Another misconception about competitors lies in the belief of competing only to gain titles. Let’s be honest, this is a huge part of it, but is it the force that drives the competitors to compete? No, I don’t believe so. Competitors want to be the best possibly that they could be. The goal is one day to be the best in the world, but as they climb up the ladder, the motivation to take on certain challenges and obstacles along the way comes from their inner desire to see progress and personal growth. To be a successful competitor, you have to have the inner desire to succeed and better your current situation, other competitors and competitions just are stepping stones to achieve that goal.
When you step in the ring or the cage or on a mat, nothing matters in this world, except the amount of work you put into training and your level of focus and confidence. Nobody in the world could help you at that moment. The strength must come from within. The drive must come from within. The skill must come from within. That moment is experienced by all competitors. It’s a unique moment that pretty much defines the uniqueness of the competition experience. Competitors love and hate that moment. At that moment, adrenaline is rushing throughout your body, making you feel shaky and powerful at the same time. Your mind is concerned about how you are going to win the match, but there is also fear of failure. The uniqueness of this situation makes it really hard for someone who hasn’t experienced it to understand or judge how one reacts to it.
The thrill of it is what drives us competitors to keep going back, even if we don’t always get the desired results. When we choose to do it, we are choosing to put ourselves in the most uncomfortable situation, but it is a choice that only we could make and that we continually make.