How Much Does it Cost To Compete

I’ve done about 30-40 local tournaments in the last 2 years, so I figured I’d reminisce about all the money I spent in that time. There are a bunch of costs to consider, and it always varies, but I wanted to put some numbers up so that people that are looking to compete for the first time are aware of it, and save up 😉 Also, I know I still pretend to myself that a competition is no more than an entry fee, when in reality the entry fee is often less than half the cost. So this post is also for myself and others in similar situations to help in financially planning for these events. In this post the focus is on “local” tournaments that are 2-3 hours away from where I live. Multi-day tournaments you have to fly to are on a whole another level financially.

For the purpose of this post, I assume I’m going to a competition in New York City from Philadelphia. I’m weighing in the night before, and staying over night. Later, I’ll discuss how that cost can be cut down. The cost is based on my experience.

  • Entry fee (for two divisions, second is usually about half price)
    • $60-100, but let’s say $80
  • Travel
    • Gas: $30 (source)
    • Tolls: $30 (source)
    • Car rental (2 days): $80
  • Hotel
    • $110
  • Food afterwards (to celebrate)
    • $20

So, here are the total costs depending on how many people are going to split the travel and hotel:

  • You go alone: 80+30+30+80+110+20=$350
  • 2 people: $225
  • 3 people: $183
  • 4 people: $163

Going the same day removes the cost of one day’s car rental and hotel. The total cost then is:

  • You go alone: 80+30+30+40+20=$200
  • 2 people: $150
  • 3 people: $133
  • 4 people: $125

There are several objections you might have to the above numbers. First, you might say, “but I already have a car”. I find that when multiple people go, you should really treat it as a cheap rental and contribute at least some money to the driver over what the gas and tolls cost. But certainly, if someone already has a car, it turns out cheaper.

Second, you might say that you can easily save the $20 for food by not going out afterwards. In my experience, going out afterwards is an essential part of unwinding after a tournament, gathering your thoughts, and talking about what you learned and have to work on. But also it’s just good for bonding. Nothing forms friendships like being in “battle” together.

The above might seem like a lot of money. Probably because most people think of the cost of a tournament as just the entry fee. I don’t mean to discourage you from competing. But you have to be realistic and plan your finances accordingly, so that you don’t feel like the whole experience was not worth what you ended up paying for it.

The moral of the story for me is that going with 4 people is the best idea. I prefer going the night before so that weight is not an issue. Also it makes the whole experience more like a road trip if you go the night before.

0 thoughts on “How Much Does it Cost To Compete

  1. Eric

    I think your costs are pretty close. I usually figure on $100 over the entrance fee. I never know where it goes, but it always goes somewhere. I would also argue that the after battle celebration costs go up when you go with a larger group. The addition cost would almost certainly offset any car rental savings. Add in a few drinks….well you could easily end up dropping a few hundred on the day.

    1. Lex Post author

      It’s kind of crazy to think that the cost of 1 tournament is approximately the same as the cost of one month of membership at a judo/jiu jitsu club. If you start thinking about money, then it makes a lot more sense to train hard and compete rarely, lol. But then again, both are good “investments” of the money if you take full advantage of it. Which is why I’m doubly depressed about Starrett Cup this year.

  2. Dolph

    Just registered for a tournament in Houston because they have a weight class for me (under 126 lbs). Total cost is a little over $500 – airfare, hotel for two nights, registration, food, etc. But knowing that I have a tournament coming up has really energized my training.


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