On the left is an image of the current blue belt middleweight bracket for the IBJJF European Open Jiu-Jitsu Championship. It has 55 competitors and is likely to grow to 60-70. That’s why I love being a blue belt: huge divisions.
I’ve never won a division with more than 32 competitors, but I’ve only had a couple chances to do so.
It’s probably true that any one of those 55 guys can catch me individually in an isolated match. Similarly, I can’t know for sure, but I have the confidence that I have a damn good chance to beat any one of those guys.
The challenge, however, is to beat six of them in a row.
I have two things on my mind as I prepare for the several upcoming tournaments that will have that many competitors. First, is that I’m prepared to go the distance with every guy. I have to take my cardio training to the point where I can push the pace (intelligently) with every guy and win on points. I’m not there yet, but I have a clear plan of how to get there (and it involves A LOT of interval training).
Second, I have to submit as many opponents as possible, and as quickly as possible. I truly believe that hunting for a submission from a dominant position will pay off. It will conserve my energy for the tougher matches. The drawback is that a failed submission will potentially create more scrambles, more work, and wear me out more. But winning is not everything in life, and at blue belt, I certainly would hate to be the guy that barely wins every match on points. There’s nothing “wrong” with that. Winning is winning. But I am very rarely satisfied with my performance unless I am able to submit my opponent. Perhaps that will change in the future, but for now, that’s how I feel. I would rather submit my first 5 opponents and lose in the finals, than win all my matches on points.
I don’t compete to win. I compete to do the best I can, which is why there are many matches I won that I’m not happy with, and many matches I lost that I’m proud of (because I fought my ass off).