Training for Competition with Higher Ranks

damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-dontOne of my goals in training for competition is to train as hard as possible with as little ego as possible. What I mean by that is, I focus on attacking aggressively with control and good technique, but if I’m caught off-guard by my training partner, I don’t use crazy spazzy power rage mode to get out the bad situation like I might in competition.

In general, I have a geriatric training style, where I move slowly with a strong focus on never putting any part of my body in a weak position. That’s good for not being swept, passed, or submitted, and it’s also very good for avoiding injury.

Now here’s the tricky part… There’s a catch 22 in training hard with competition-ready brown and black belts who are going at 100%. If I want to step up to their level and challenge them at least in some positions, I have to go 100% myself. But because they have superior technique, they constantly put me in vulnerable positions that threaten injury. So I’m less inclined to go 100% when there is a constant threat of injury. But if I go less than 100% then I have no hope of getting anywhere with them except inside a triangle or at the bottom of mount. That’s the catch 22.

I get a lot from rolling lighter with higher ranks, because they reveal the flaws in my game. But when I’m training for competition, I’m not looking at exposing the flaws in my game broadly speaking. I’m looking to pull every training partner (white belt to black belt) aggressively into my “A game” where I at least have a brief chance.

I’m not quite in competition mode yet, but these are the thing I think about, and have recently had conversations with a few fellow purple belts about. In the end, no matter what, I believe that quantity of training is important. You need to do whatever you need to do in order to get a lot of sets in with minimum risk of injury and with maximum mental focus on constantly improving your technique.

Side note: I’ll often write blog posts that I’m not happy about, because what comes out on the screen is a lot different than what was in my brain. I sound like a tunnel-visioned asshole, while I think of myself as more of a big-picture asshole.

0 thoughts on “Training for Competition with Higher Ranks

  1. Jim Caruso


    The “catch-22” you describe is something I struggle with all the time and it applies more broadly than just training for competition with higher ranks. For me, it comes into play on a regular basis rolling with bigger guys even of the same (and sometimes lower!) rank. I need to roll harder to have any chance, yet that raises the risk of injury, but yet if I don’t step it up I will be a training dummy for the duration of the round….

    Not sure what the answer is, but you sure articulated the problem very well! 🙂

    Jim Caruso

    1. Lex Post author

      You’re right, I don’t know why I didn’t think of it that way. The same does apply to heavier or very aggressive training partners. And you’re right, especially when they’re lower ranks, there’s a dangerous element of uncertainty that leads to injury.


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