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How to Measure Success in a Jiu Jitsu Competition

Matches are won in the weeks, months, and years leading up to the Jiu-Jitsu competition. The matches are won when giving it all you’ve got during conditioning, drilling, and rolling in class. It is all about preparation. And it is something that we can never accomplish on our own.

A common question about competitions is: “How do you measure success when competing?” There are several measurements of success. The most common one is how well a competitor performs during the competition and if they win their matches. A better measurement, I believe, is if the competitor prepared well in their training leading up to the competition.

However, at the end of the day, the more substantial question is: have you inspired others, and even yourself, through your vision, hard work, and dedication leading up to the competition? Inspiring others to believe in higher and achieve their own goals is one of the ultimate rewards and achievements of competing. More than just individual accomplishments, it is about working together as a community, supporting each other toward common goals, and achieving something larger and more powerful than anything any of us could have ever accomplished in our own strength.

When a student prepares for a competition, it is a team process. The entire academy participates. Our teammates play a critical role in helping the competitor prepare for the competition through drilling, rolling, and encouragement. Likewise, the coaches put in hours of studying the competitors’ game, what motivates them, adjusting the training, and tweaking the details so that the competitor can perform at his or her best. Significant others and family members sacrifice quality time at home as the competitor puts in the required mat time. We are all invested. We have put our heart, sweat, and, at times, even blood on the mat for our teammate’s dream of competition, for the passion of the sport, and the love of our team.

Further, the competition itself is then a collective experience shared by the entire team. As the name of the competitor is called, the one whom we have been helping to prepare throughout the weeks leading up to this day, we become nervous. More anxious than when we ourselves compete. This is because we are invested. We want the best for our teammates. As the competitor steps to the edge of the mat, seconds before the match begins, with their backs facing the bleachers, the Team Passos patch can be clearly seen on the back of their gi. You can’t help but notice it. What is being displayed is more than just a patch or a logo. It is a representation of the dreams conceived, limitations overcome, strength gained, a shared community that has fought and won battles together, and ultimately experienced lives changed.

As the team flag is symbolically raised, a collective camaraderie rises up in all of us who are on the other side of the mat cheering them on. We know, firsthand, what has gone into this moment. The moments of preparation that have taken place behind the scenes as a BJJ family. How our teammates have put themselves on the line, facing their fears, and pushed past what was once holding them back to go after their goals.

Each of our students has played a part in each other’s achievements. No one has made it on their own. Jiu-Jitsu is a team sport. And just preparing well and then showing up to compete, regardless of the outcome, is a victory in and of itself.

To all our students who have demonstrated a high work ethic and commitment to this vision, you have inspired all of us. This is how you measure success. Well done!

– Professor Tony Passos


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