Last year I competed, on average, every other weekend. Mostly judo, but some jiu jitsu too. What made competition an enjoyable experience for me was competing often and treating it as just another hard training session (where my opponent tries harder than usual). As in most aspects of my life, turning something into a habit makes it much more natural to fit into my schedule which is overcrowded by work-related activity.
Due to a recurring shoulder injury, shift of focus from judo to jiu jitsu, and a change in training regimens and teams, I struggled to get back into the same regular mode of competing in late 2010 and early 2011.
I missed 3 major competitions in 2011 due to the same shoulder injury. I hated how it felt as just another lame excuse. The essential problem is that my favorite technique from the feet is exactly what causes this injury, and even minor tweaks take weeks to heal back to anywhere near 100%.
All that being said, I’ve been really looking forward to the IBJJF New York Open (this upcoming weekend). I was very nervous about the shoulder injury, but training hard twice a day for several weeks leading up to it. Of course, as the gods would have it, I rehurt the shoulder Tuesday night, but not bad, just bad enough where it hurt and felt weak. I tried training Wednesday morning and it still hurt (worse). So I stopped right away and decided to take the next 3 days before the competition off. This is something that many people have said is a good thing to do anyway (even without injury) to let your body and mind recover. And also to get your mind to the restless state where you are itching to get on the mat by the day of the tournament. I never liked this idea, but the injury is forcing me to try it.
I’m not sure where my shoulder will be Saturday, but I’m competing without excuses no matter what. However, I have to be smart about it… With a division of 37 people and more in absolute, if I keep winning, there will be a lot of fights! So while the main goal of any one fight is to win, I have to be very strategic about the set of techniques I go for as to minimize the probability of making the shoulder much worse.
Much like white belts, blue belts are often very aggressive and erratic on the feet, so I just have to relax, be patient, and attack when the opening is there, without forcing anything even if the other guy is going crazy. I believe in the techniques I know, and that very little power is needed to execute them when the timing is right.
The time off from training is giving me a chance to relax and enjoy several productive days (and nights) working.