Regular Training VS Competiton Preperation

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February 9, 2019

by Prof. Martin Guggi – with the endless support form my friends and trainingpartners Prof. Bert Obernosterer and Markus Miedel


In almost 2 month we are going to host our first BJJ Competition Camp. Although we are all training the whole year round, a competition preparation has to be different than a regular class.

We are satisfied when we can spend a lot of time with what we like. Further our satisfaction even grows when we also get better and improve in our passion. The problem is: It does not matter if we prepare for a competition or go to a regular class, if we drill or watch high-level athletes competing on YouTube – we are somehow always growing and improving. If we have the patience to get going and do not stop doing what we like, we will improve.

Regular Training:

As a Coach teaching a regular class during the week I started to think about what my students need to know to improve faster than other students and what technique or knowledge is not important to pass to them? Seeing BJJ growing and hearing from students who became successfully high-level athletes already after 2 years of training, any instructor should ask himself:

  • Do we teach the right basics?
  • What can be avoided in teaching?
  • What is the right sequence of teaching techniques?
  • How can I as a coach use the given time of my students better than other coaches?

It should be a daily “less” and not a daily “more”! We need to filter more and more because if you watch FB, Instagram or YT you see so many nice looking techniques which look great but not all of them are effective or worth spending a lot of time training and drilling them.

Of course, not a lot of student and coaches can train and study all day long, but this does not matter to me because I want to grow as a coach and student and use my time in a good way because otherwise I could also do something else with so much time spent on the mat.

These questions get even more important when students are getting ready for a competition. We always hear the sentence: “Either you win, or you learn!” Having the right mindset is definitely true – but as a coach I have the goal to prepare them to win!

So what is the difference between a regular class and a competition preparation training?

Development and growth are going to happen regardless if people compete or not, but we can definitely reduce the time if people compete on a regular base. In my eyes, competitions help to get more focused in training and to work even more on your strong and weak areas.

In a regular class we teach all students the same technique. We want them to get better in a specific position. But teaching a martial art like BJJ, we do not focus always on competition. Sometimes we have to teach self-defense, conditioning, games to keep the class motivated or areas of the game which you do not need for a competition.

I am sure people will argue with me on the following but if we address the core of our martial art, it is the Submission. I want to submit my partner, right?  We are not practicing Judo where the goal is to throw someone on this back, we are not wrestling and trying to pin someone on his back – we are submission fighters and our goal is to make the other one tapping out. This means for me: do we really need to teach so many throws and takedowns to my students when most of the time should be spend on the setups and finishes of a submission? Throws and takedowns can help a lot to dominate the fight but in the end, this cannot be the main focus of our classes. If this would be the main focus it would be called Judo or Wrestling.

Comparing competition training to a regular class I would say that the difference is that we do not want to learn a new technique or position, but we want to find better ways do get used to the techniques we already know.

Observing high level competitors, I am fascinated how they can focus on their game and start to apply their game without wasting a lot of time thinking about the opponent’s game. In competition I definitely need to find a way to make my techniques work. I want the opponent to be constantly worrying about my attacks. In a regular class, even when we roll we are trying to find ways to make our game better and improve it. This means I can let him pass my guard sometimes to work on my defense and escapes. But when I prepare for competition I would say that my first goal must be how to make my A Game work without exposing any of my weaknesses.

Competition Preparation:

Fundaments of the Preparation

  1. Rules of the fight or fights
    1. IBJJF/ADCC – points
    2. Submission only – no points
IBJJF/ADCC Submission only
Time Limit!

Rest time in between fights?


What need to be done to win?

How do I get points, advances?

Sweeping is very important to get points!


Time Limit!

No points change the pace of the fight.
This means my only goal is to get the Submission Tap and it does not matter if I get swept, mounted or taken down as long I get to situation where I can finish.

2. Single fight or tournament style event

Tournament Style Event Single Fight – Superfight
Do I know any opponent?

Video footage of any opponent?

Most used techniques in this weight class?

Different weight classes use different styles, techniques, guard forms (Halfguard, Double Guard Pulling, 50/50) …

What do we know about my opponent?

Video Footage?

Where is he good at, where is he bad at?

How did he win the last few times?

What are his favorite submissions?

In which situation does he get dangerous?

3. Strength & Conditioning

One of the first question about strength & conditioning is always: Do we need it? Or is drilling and sparring enough? We all know that there are high level competitors who do not train condition like Marcelo Garcia. But why do we take the exception and think we are also like that. In general – S&C is important and improves everybody’s game. 90% of the people who compete regularly are weight lifting. So, if you train at least once per week and get a stronger body and less injuries, the conditioning works and is going to improve your journey and time as a competitor.

Is the body of the athlete going to handle the stress of the preparation training? Is the body of the athlete going to handle the stress of the preparation training?
What needs to be done to prevent injuries? What needs to be done to prevent injuries?
How long are the fights? How many?

What endurance does the athlete need to have to make his A Game work?


How long is the maximum the fight could last?

What type of fighter is my opponent? Explosive, technical, strong?

What endurance does the athlete need to have to make his A Game work?

4. Tactic/ Make a Gameplan out of the arsenal the athlete has!

If you do not know your opponents, you cannot prepare for their A Games. So, what needs to be done to bring your opponent to your game?

Which move can you plan in advance?

How to start?

How to bring your opponent out of his comfort zone?

How to fight according to plan A, B and C?

How much time needs to pass by until we switch to plan B?

 5. What cannot be planned but is often forgotten – and could be trained too?

Restarts are going to happen. So, should you train at your gym in a specific fight area? Do not roll around in the whole gym. The ref has to restart you in a position or start the fight in the standing position again.


Guard Pulling or Takedown depend on your tactic and gameplan! Do not get offended when you do not take someone down. You need to finish him and if you want to go for legs or other stuff from bottom than learn how to pull guard without losing points or giving up something.

You are going to feel tired, it does not matter how well you are prepared. Be ready to feel stress, fear, adrenaline…. This is going to affect you every time you compete. Rolling in the gym is a different feeling! This special competition situation should also be reconstructed at your gym – even if you are never going to feel the intensity of a competition.


Specific Sparring:

In our regular classes we want to grow our Game. In a Competition Preparation Class, we want to limit our Game – find our A Game – and find ways to apply it to the rule set and our opponent.

Sparring in general but also specific sparring is one of the most useful ways to get ready for a competition! Which options of specific sparring do we have?

  1. Positional Sparring
    1. Sidecontrol
    2. Mount
    3. Back
  2. Guard Sparring
    1. Sweep
    2. Pass
  3. Takedown or Guard pull Sparring
  4. Sparring to get the Advantage!
    1. Make the opponent turtle;
    2. Almost pass his guard;
    3. Opponent almost gets swept or taken down – losing balance but get back this his balance.
  5. Grip Sparring
    1. Standing
    2. Guard
  6. Sparring to get in dominant positions – even we do not get points for them
    1. Honey hole
    2. Head Quarter Position
    3. Deep Legdrag Position or pinning one leg to the mat
    4. And so on…
  7. Point Sparring
    1. Get as many points as possible
  8. Submission Sparring
    1. Get as many subs as possible without stopping the roll
  9. Specific situation Sparring
    1. Get to a specific grip or position and start over again
      1. Lock our legs around the arm and head before closing the triangle
      2. Get to a specific Guard and start over again
  • Get to a specific position and start over again
  1. Guard Pull or Takedown
    1. Some pulls guard on you and you 30sec to pass – if not start over again.
    2. You have 30 sec to take someone down who is only resisting.
  2. Make the first points sparring
    1. Who scores the first full point, wins – no advantages
  3. Escape sparring
    1. If you escape you start over again

Even if we need to attack most of the time we have to train the escapes of positions and submission too. Here is a nice way to train this – could be done every class! The free sparring is something which should be done only on Open Mat or before a Competition. All the other times should be used to progress!

36min of specific defense and attacks:

  1. Start on Mount Bottom – 3 min (then 3 min on top)
  2. Start in Turtel Bottom – 3 min
  3. Start in Sidecontrol – 3 min
  4. Start in Close Guard – 3 min
  5. Start Standing – Takedown or Sweep (30sec after you pulled guard time to sweep)
  6. Start Standing – Takedown only


Specific Sparring for Beginners:

Advanced people are finding 1000 possible ways to drill specific situations. In my eyes a beginner does not see the whole picture.


  • If you get a grip – pull guard and get to close guard.
  • If you get this grip, we go for this takedown or we pull guard.

BJJ is such a beautiful sport with limitless options. But we always need to know why we are trying to achieve the next step. Where to take the fight to start your A Game – to get back to your comfort zone. Sparring is a very stressful situation and so many things can happen in seconds.

That’s why it is good to give Beginners some guidelines:

  1. Take somebody to sidecontrol or close Guard to slow the fight down.
  2. if you do not know what you are doing, then do NOT do it!
  3. Being active without having a clue where to go will end in chaos.
  4. Do not give up a position for any fancy stuff or a submission. Control is the first start of every next step!
  5. Do not try stuff in competitions, you never did it at your gym.

I think that it is I very important that all students know what kind of training they can aspect. Competition training is not for everyone and not for all the time – this has to be addressed in special classes in our weekly schedule.

All competitors should train together because they all have same the mindset and it can get rough sometimes – which by the way is important too – nobody is going soft on you at a competition. But do not let competitors destroy your regular classes. Competition training is something extra and should not be done with all students together.





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