I have never won a Gold medal in anything before! I recently competed at Alpha Grappling and while this was not my first competition, winning both my matches and standing on that podium with a Gold medal was a first for me!

While the win felt awesome, it was the mastery over my nerves and finally executing a game plan- rather than reacting to my opponent’s game plan- that made this experience so profound for me

If you have competed in any sport before, then you may relate to lack of sleep the night before, heart palpitations, a runny tummy, shakes and jitters and the list goes on…. I would have all of these days leading up to the comp and holding a conversation with me on the day of the event would be 100% impossible.

The fact that I was able to have a good night’s rest, help a few newbie competitors through their comp jitters and think straight enough in my matches to stick to an actual game plan, despite being caught in a few shitty positions throughout the matches means I have made some serious improvements in the last six months- and creating benchmarks for improvements is one of the amazing benefits to competing in any sport.

Okay so besides calming my nerves, here are three more things I have learned from competing in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that you can apply to any sport or competitive environment:

You learn what it feels like to have another person try to hurt you.  Most people have never experienced ill-intent.  They’ve never had another person try to actually hurt them.  There is something cathartic about being in a dog-eat-dog situation and you’ll never get that in a safe gym environment. In two comps I have come up against a training buddy and I cant tell you right now that when you’re standing across the mat from one another for those 6-10 minutes, you’re not training buddies at all.

You learn where you’re weakest and where you’re strongest.  On the gym mats you might think you have a good guard but then find out in competition that your guard sucks.  On the other hand you might not land many armbars but armbar your way to a gold medal in competition.  Competition reveals the truth about your grappling skills.  If you want to be exposed to those truths so that you can use that information to improve yourself, competition is really the only place you can find it.

Improves Your Ability to Persevere in Adverse Situations

There are so many situations where you will be uncomfortable in jiu-jitsu and want to give up. That’s especially true when you first start learning, but giving up in the gym and giving up in a tournament is different. We all have pride. We want to win, and that desire will push you to persevere, even if it’s just a little, but every time you do, you’ll learn that you can go further.

In a way, you get desensitized to difficulty, and you start to realize that there is often a way forward even when no path seems visible. That is a change in mindset that you gain as you compete more and more.

Over time, you become confident in yourself, and your experience helps you calmly assess situations and move forward with the hand that you’re dealt. It’s possible to gain that same perseverance elsewhere, but competition is one of the safest environments to do so.