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Rick Baker is a white belt, and we know white belts are people too. In this instalment of ‘White Belt Fever’, Rick describes his first experiences at a competition.

Competition in BJJ is the best way to sharpen your skills, but it can also be intimidating. We're going to have a look at some of the challenges you may come across before and during competition.

There are millions of factors you can take into consideration when entering your first competition. Gi or Nogi? Have I been training long enough? What about the weight? Should I cut weight? The only way you'll find the answers is by just entering one and having a go.

One of the best ways to get started is through smaller, inter-club style competitions. Inter clubs are competitions that local gyms decide to run for other gyms in the area to come and everyone can compete against each other. If anything, it's a great way to roll with guys from outside of your gym and figure out what sort of level you're at, and if you've actually learned anything! Usually, you find that the answer to this is yes, you have learnt something. These are great because they are usually a bit cheaper than larger competitions and can sometimes be a little less strict on weight categories. There's usually a bit less pressure too.

Youre going to be a bag of nerves at your first comp, and I got triangled in my first match because I tried a rolling guard pass (something I'd never done in training) and landed straight in a submission. I'd signed up for an event that was both go and nogi, so I did slightly better in my gi tournament later, winning a couple of matches and coming fourth place. I also pulled off a sweet Judo hip toss in the gi that I have never done before or since the competition. It's amazing what your brain can do while under the influence of adrenaline.

There're a few different rule sets you could be competing under. My suggestion is to get to know a couple of them before heading into the competition, so you don't get disqualified for doing something ridiculous. The majority of the bigger competitions are ruled by the IBJJF who have their own set of rules which a lot of the other competition organisers mimic. Certainly when it comes to the  are set out everybody uses the way IBJJF does them, so it's worth revising. I could list it all here but it'd be pointless and boring, they have the full list on their website which you can check for yourselves. Now, one of the beautiful things about BJJ is that it's constantly evolving, as are the rulesets to certain tournaments. The EBI (Eddie Bravo Invitational) rules are have caught a lot of people's interest and they are starting to be used in other competitions. Basically, there are no points, any submission is allowed and should no one get tapped in the time limit they have overtime rounds that determine a winner. People like it due to there being no draws and are starting to use it, so get to know it.

Whatever competition you're in, check the ruleset and if you are unsure then ask your instructor. If you're a white belt then stay away from heel hooks, knee bars,  and going full Rampage Jackson and slamming someone and you should be alright.

There are two ways that you usually get weighed in for competitions. The first being that they weigh everyone at the start of the day, if nogi then just in your shorts, or if in the gi either wearing it or holding it while you step on the scales. Then you can refuel and warm up and figure out when your bout is. Some of the higher level competitions will weigh you right before you step on the mats. You need to figure out this situation before you sign up so that you don't weigh in too heavy or too light. In either scenario most of the time, you will be disqualified. By too light I mean you'd literally have to be in the weight class below yours, unlikely but it could happen. Many people don't cut weight for BJJ comps, it's usually unnecessary and with same-day  you can end up being pretty dehydrated and feeling very tired before you go ahead and , which leads to a pretty bad performance.

My recommendation would be to figure out what you weigh now, train as often as you would in prep for a competition for a couple of weeks and make a concerted effort to eat well during this time. No sugary drinks or snacks, just good food, enough to help you recover and make sure you're drinking plenty of water. Maybe have one cheat day a week so that it's actually achievable. Do this for two weeks and see where you end up, and go for that. Weigh yourself every morning before you eat, as this is the most accurate figure. Ince you've done this check your weight and see what categories are available and go from there. You can seek nutritionists help if you really wish to go all out, but it may not be necessary straight away until you figure out where your problems may lie.

Some of the stricter competitions will only allow a certain colour of gi to be worn while you compete and will only allow patches in certain places on your gi. Usually, they consist of white, black or blue gi's, but you're best off checking beforehand. There'd be nothing worse than getting DQ'd because you decided to wear your luminous green gi on competition day.

Nerves are something that everybody feels on competition day, and generally, the only way to get rid of them is to put yourself in that situation more. Competing isn't for , but the only way to find out is to give it a go. You might end up loving it.

As always, hit me up on twitter: @rickofitall if you have any questions and feel free to check out my blog at RedcornerBlueCorner.com

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November 23, 2016 — Jiu Jitsu Style