I remember my first ever jiu jitsu tournament. I was a white belt and had only been training for about one month and decided why not? I was kind of nervous but mostly excited because I did not know what to expect. I remember thinking to myself “I’ve only been training for one month… maybe I should go on YouTube and learn some new techniques.” This was the night before the tournament. I learned a really cool choke that I had never heard of before. It was the “Ezequiel Choke” and was so proud that I had found such an awesome choke to use. It was so sneaky and deceptive and of course, I would tap all of my opponents out with it.

The next day, I was getting ready for my first match and tried it a couple of times on one of my training partners. It totally worked. During my first match, my opponent tried to take me down and I swept. 2-2. He tried again, I swept again. 4-4. I was in his guard and thought, “Perfect opportunity.” As soon as I slipped my hand behind his neck for the Ezequiel choke, I heard “catch him with the arm bar!” The next thing I know, I’m tapping.

I spoke with my professor after and he asked, “Why didn’t you posture up like you were supposed to?” So I told him about my awesome plan and he explained to me the pitfalls of trying to learn new information right before a tournament.

What I took from this is to stick to what you know. In the last 4 years, I have done my best to learn as much as possible, but in the weeks leading up to a tournament, I do my best to stop trying to learn new tricks, but rather polish the tricks I already know. I usually tell my students, you won’t get that much better in the last week or two leading up to a competition. Stick to what you know and trust. Competition is not the time for experiments.

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