Practically every jiu-jitsu player that has ever competed, from white belt through elite black belt, has felt the dreaded competition nerves. Whether it be at a tiny local tournament or on the biggest stages, grapplers have always struggled with finding the right mindset for competition. In a recent video with Bernardo Faria, Gordon Ryan and Andrew Wiltse share some key insights into their competition mindsets.
Check out the video below.
It may come as a surprise to some that Gordon Ryan — widely considered the best no-gi pound-for-pound grappler in the world — admits to being nervous. However, even though he feels those nerves prior to a match, those nerves are quickly replaced by his trademark confidence.
“When I initially start warming up is when I’m the most nervous,” Ryan said. “When I get closer and closer to the match, I just feel my anxiety goes down and my confidence rises.”
The key, says Ryan, is putting in the proper work in the training room. His confidence comes not from arrogance, but rather trust in the effort he’s put in to prepare. By constantly putting himself in tough spots against some of the world’s best grapplers in the training room, he’s not intimidated by his opponents in matches.
“I know that even if I get caught in the worst positions, I can escape and then just go right back into offense,” he said.
Andrew Wiltse admits to an entirely different approach to his competition mindset.
“I’m that guy that gets super anxious before matches,” he said.
Instead of dwelling on the match, Wiltse prefers to avoid thinking about it altogether. That way, he avoids any negative thoughts and is able to grappler in competition just how he would in the training room — with complete confidence.