This weekend (June 28) I’m competing in a tournament in Kansas City. I think it will be my 6th tournament. As I’ve done in the past, I’ve got some goals that I want to achieve. But in some ways, this tournament has made me a bit nervous. There have been several times over the past two weeks that I’ve thought about the tournament, visualized lining up across from my opponent and I felt that “fight-or-flight” feeling. At my last tournament there was a brief break in the middle of my second match as my opponent needed to take off a rashguard. As I stood there, I felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest. And thinking about this tournament has brought those feelings up. However, I’ve tried to put those times to good use and practice some breathing to calm myself down.
I think one reason I’m nervous is the pressure I’m putting on myself. For one thing, I’ve been a white belt for almost 2 years now, so I feel like I should be near the top, just from experience. It could conceivably be some guy’s first tournament after a few months on Saturday. If I went against the “6 month” version of me, I would destroy that guy, and I feel like I should be near that point. It’s not uncommon for white belts to take 2 years to go to blue, so it’s not as if I’m extremely more experienced than everyone else. But I have been putting some pressure on myself to do as good as I think I should. I’m getting to the point where I realize I need to have a good, consistent performance at a tournament. I have a hard time imagining a “career” where this is as good as it gets. I want to get better, and I haven’t seen that a whole lot in my last couple tournaments.
Another reason that I’m nervous is that I know I can be skeptical, pessimistic or a realist. The last two tournaments, I’ve won my first match both times and lost everything else. I struggle with not defeating myself before the tournament. I enjoy sparring, I have fun rolling. Last week I rolled with someone at open mat for 30 minutes before one of us tapped. It wasn’t a relaxed roll either. It wasn’t tournament level, but it was definitely competitive. I was trying to submit him and he was trying to submit me. As much as I enjoy just rolling with my teammates, I sometimes struggle to make the shift to a tournament mindset.
With all of that said, this is a tournament that I found out on my own and signed up before I knew if anyone else is going. So it’s not as if I’m pressured or going because a lot of my team is. In fact, as far as I know there will only be two of us there. I’m still excited about the tournament, and I’m trying to not apply too much pressure to myself.
I only have 3 goals this tournament:
- Don’t get submitted
- Win by arm bar
My last tournament, I went through my division without getting submitted. I lost by submission in the open weight. This weekend will be a little bit harder, as the absolute division is submission only. Which means if I don’t submit him and he doesn’t submit me, we both lose. So I have a tall order, but I need to be smart about it.