Embrace the Pressure and Overcome the Fear

Over the next few days, the biggest competition in the Jiu Jitsu calendar is taking place at the Pyramid in Long Beach, California. The world’s best Jiu Jitsu players will gather and compete to become the World Champion 2016.

For some this will be their first world championships, other will be hoping to retain the title they won last year. Whatever the athletes situation I can promise you one thing; they will be feeling the pressure.

Guilherme Mendes Passing by Owen Francis

Gui Mendes fighting at the World Championships. Photograph by Owen Francis

And an athlete’s ability to handle that pressure when it matters most is often the difference between victory and defeat.

So when a multiple-time world champion shares his experience in dealing with competition pressure, it’s worth listening. Earlier this week Gui Mendes, 8-time world champion and pioneer of the modern style of Jiu Jitsu, shared these thoughts:

I started training when I was 12. Competed in my first Worlds in 2005, when I was 15. I participated for ten years and was able to win 8 World  titles.

Someone once told me that with time I would gain confidence, and my fear of losing would go away. He was wrong because the fear of losing only grew as  I discovered that I had more chances to win.

The rule is simple; the more people expect from you, the more you will  expect from yourself.

Every win is unique and feels amazing. Every loss destroys your soul for the next few days until you realize that the result will not change who you are or what people think about you.

Winning is a personal achievement, it’s a form of proving to yourself what you are capable of.

This whole process confused me for years until I realized that those people who are with me will be there no matter what, and those who don’t like me, will always find a way to underestimate my hard work.

I learned to ignore them, and you will suffer until you learn to do the same.

For you guys competing this year I want to give the most important lesson that this tournament has given me: fight for yourself and those who are with you no matter what, embrace the pressure and overcome the fear, but above it all, celebrate with all your heart, because those moments are unforgettable.

(Orginal post: https://www.facebook.com/ibjjf/posts/1378259088856086)

I had to the same realisation in 2013.  It had a massive impact on how I approach competition and the results I achieved. (2013 was the first year I won the No Gi Worlds)

I now compete for myself and because it challenges me to be the best version of myself I can be.  And I compete because I want to.

You may be wondering if I still get nervous before I compete. The answer is yes. Everytime. And that’s perfectly fine.

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