It had been at least 5 years since I last visited Arizona and when I passed through on my cross country road trip I had to stop by Gustavo’s gym. In addition to some great training and an awesome interview, which I’ll share later, I got a copy of Launching Your BJJ Competition Journey After 30. It’s a quick read laid out in self-discovery style that provides a blue print for someone just starting their competition journey. There are also a lot of tips for seasoned competitors. In my case, it had a big impact on my mind set going into my first Panam competition as a black belt.
In case you don’t know the author of this book, Gustavo Dantas, aka the BJJMentalCoach, is a 4th degree Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt. He has numerous team and personal BJJ titles, is a business owner, a motivational speaker, a life coach, an instructor, and genuinely interested in helping others. Suffice to say, he’s well qualified to speak on the subject of competition.
I really enjoyed this book! While it is designed for someone who is over 30 and just starting to compete, there are some great insights for any competitor at any stage in their journey. In fact, most of the concepts transfer over into any competitive environment. The book is filled with personal examples as well as examples from his students. You’ll also find inspirational quotes from some legendary competitors, motivational speakers, and coaches.
Chapters 1-3 aid in self-discovery. The following 10 chapters provide step by step instruction on how to sign up, prepare both mentally and physically, and compete. It concludes with closing thoughts and some facts about the author.
Real world application:
As I mentioned, this book had a huge impact on me as I was getting ready for Panams, which I wrote about HERE. My 3 biggest takeaways were:
Be Honest With Yourself
- I resisted fighting in the masters division because I wanted to face the toughest and hottest new black belts. I had to be honest with myself. Jiu Jitsu isn’t my full time job and I didn’t have the appropriate conditioning to fight 10 min matches. To give myself the right chance to win, I chose the masters division because I knew my cardio would last 6 minutes and the rest would depend on my focus and skill. In Chapter 1 Gustavo acknowledges that we all have our own unique circumstances in life and that it’s ok to pick a realistic challenge for ourselves which reassured me that I made the right decision.
Don’t Focus on the Outcome
- I had an epiphany when I read chapter 6. In 2009 I signed up to fight at the World Championship in Long Beach for the first time. I was a purple belt and hadn’t trained for a week due to a cold. I found myself very nervous for the first time and made the conscious choice to not worry and to just let my jiu jitsu flow. I ended up submitting every opponent on my way to winning gold. After that win I felt extra pressure when I competed. I remember thinking: “What if I lose?” What if I let down my coach and friends?” “What if I get submitted?” Those thoughts generated extra anxiety and caused me not to perform at my best.(I competed at worlds again as a purple belt the following year and didn’t even place) This chapter gives advice on redirecting negative or outcome focused thoughts. The epiphany was that the times I performed well were when I was focused on doing my best rather than the outcome. While my goal is always to land at the top of the podium; after that goal is set, the most important thing is focusing on controlling what I can control and doing my best. Revitalizing this mindset played a key factor in my performance at Pans and contributed to getting a bronze medal.
Have a Plan
- Most of us are juggling careers, family, kids, and hobbies. In chapter 6 Gustavo shared his personal training plan.(About 2 months long) What was most inspiring about it was the fact that it included some of his entrepreneurial engagements and showed how he had to juggle life and training. Below is the training plan I put together for the 2 weeks leading up to Pans. Despite the challenges of a new schedule and moving, the plan helped me be efficient with my time and train to the best of my ability. I’m revamping it for Worlds and am excited to see how it goes.
5 Star Martial Arts 6pm
Tsunami BJJ 10:30am
Kings MMA Anaheim 7pm
CBJJ 6pm Last Hard Training
CBJJ Drills and Position specific light training 6pm
Gustavo summarizes in 100 pages what has taken me over 100 BJJ fights to piece together for myself. I’ve actually read the book 3 times now and I still feel like I’m picking up something new each time I go through it. For more information and products on mental preparedness, including this book, visit TheBJJMentalCoach.com. Nothing is more worthy of your investment than yourself!
Sometimes self discovery is aided by inspiration. While reflecting on the book and thinking about how to tackle Worlds in a couple months my wife and I took some time to roam through The Broad in Los Angeles. Some of the exhibits were thought provoking. And if thoughts are too much for you, it also comes equipped with the staple of modern art museums… the golden urinal lying on a block. Some thoughts are deeper than others I guess.(No pictures of that one but I’m sure it’ll be there if you decide to visit the museum)