You're up in the middle of the night again. Your brain won't shut off. The tournament is only a couple of weeks/days away and a million thoughts are racing through your head. You vacillate between trying to make up a game plan--I'm going to jump guard, then sweep to mount, then americana--and freaking out about what will happen if your game plan fails. The unknown is turning your potential opponents into beasts of mythological proportions.
Thanks to your overactive imagination, you suddenly don't know BJJ and you are fighting Goro from Mortal Kombat.
But, never fear, there's no need to resort to extreme measures.
You already have what you need to be successful in your fights. That's right, you: the white belt who still isn't sure which way your knees are supposed to point when you do an omaplata. Don't believe me? I will prove it with science!!!
Ok. I can't back that up.
But I can make a fairly convincing case for why you are more prepared than you think you are.
If you are serious enough about BJJ to compete, there's a very good chance you are training multiple times a week. That means you are enduring all those weird drills your instructor makes you do. You know, the ones where you do them but secretly wonder if your instructor just made them up so he or she could laugh at you while you scoot across the mat like a dog with worms?
It also means you are putting in hours of technique drilling. You are still practicing that basic armbar over and over again even though you could probably do it with your eyes closed.
And that, my dears, is exactly the point.
A few months ago, we did an exercise in the Women's Self-Defense Class. For three weeks, the girls in our class were practicing techniques they could use in the event that someone came up behind them, grabbed them and tried to drag them away. After I was confident that they had the moves down, I invited some of my good friends from the guy's class to help me out with an exercise.
We lined the girls up facing the wall. We blindfolded them. We turned the music up. Then Stephanie and I and my guy friends would sneak up behind them , grab them and start dragging them away. It was their job to use the techniques that they had learned the previous weeks in class.
And thus was born the first Terrifying Tuesday.
After the exercise was over, the girls were amazed. They reported that their bodies just...knew what to do when they were grabbed from behind. They didn't have to think about it. They just reacted. And it worked!!
The same thing can be said of all the techniques you have been drilling. All those hours of practice both in drilling and grappling has been training your muscles to do specific jobs. And your muscles are ready to do them when the situation calls for it.
But you have to trust your body.
Many times, I would kill my body's potential to perform by over-thinking. Instead of just grappling, my head was full of worries: Was I grappling ok? Was the other person better than me? What guard pass should I do? Are they trying to set up a swee--OH NO IM ON THE BOTTOM! HAAAAAAALP
All the over-thinking is taking your focus away from what you need to be doing: Just grappling. When it comes time to fight, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you do this all the time in class. Tell yourself that you are prepared and believe it. Step on the mat and have confidence that your body is ready to do what you need it to do.
And, if at the end of the day you go out there and grapple at your best and you still lose, don't get upset. It just means you have new things to focus on when you get back into class. New things to train your muslces to do. New ways of moving to learn. That's the fun of BJJ!!
But more than likely, if you go in both physically and MENTALLY prepared, you will surprise yourself with what you are capable of. If all goes well, you will be standing on the podium with a big cheesey grin with something shiny hanging around your neck.