This started as a blog about training together as a family, in part to inspire other women & families to get involved. As female participation in jiu jitsu has increased, as we have grown as athletes and as we learned that families training together aren’t such an anomaly, the blog has evolved. Jen gets personal with posts on ambition, challenges & achievements in BJJ, CrossFit & with nutrition, while Tom's posts are more educational, informative and analytical in regards to training. On occasion you may hear from the kids.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

So your kid is fighting in their first BJJ tournament -What to expect - Part 3

by Jen

Fight Time

21. Usually, the tournaments run No Gi divisions in order of skill level (Novice, beginner, intermediate and advanced) before the Gi divisions. Therefore if your child is fighting gi, he or she will have a few hours to wait before fighting.

22. Tournament staffing typically includes at least one table worker and one referee at each ring. The referee gives the fighters the rules, starts the match, allots the points, and overall manages the matches. The table worker develops the brackets, calls the fighters, manages the clock and records the points. I am sure there is more – it seems like a stressful job. The interaction with stressed parents, children, coaches and other family members would be hard enough. Experience has shown me that they want to be helpful and answer your questions. Be respectful, realize how much they have going on, and do not interrupt them while they are scoring a fight – you would not want anyone taking their attention away from your child’s fight, would you?

23. Pay attention to what is going on in your designated ring at all times. If your child is fighting in the beginner no gi division, you will want to stay close by early on. If your child is fighting gi only, keep checking back to see where they are with the brackets. Stay near the ring when they get closer to your child’s division so you will hear the table worker call his or her name. You do not want your child to be disqualified for not responding. You can ask the table worker for a time estimate of when your child’s division will be called, but it is up to you to pay attention.

24. As previously stated, most tournaments divide rings by weights. At some tournaments, the table worker will further break down the bracketing by ages if appropriate. For instance, Hunter weighed in at 67 lbs. Other children in his weight and skill division were aged 7 through 12. The table worker further broke down the division by ages 7 to 9 and 10 to 12. My understanding is that you never really know what this next phase will look like until you know who shows up to fight that day.

25. In all, the table worker will do their best to ensure a fair fight for everyone. Keep in mind that they are human and can make a mistake. If you are concerned about your child’s match up, politely inform the table worker before the fight.

26. Here is where it gets ugly - sometimes coaches and parents register their child in divisions they do not belong. This is often referred to as sandbagging – e.g. registering your child at the beginner level when they really should fight at the intermediate level. Although we would like to believe it does not happen – it does. If you feel your child was matched unfairly, talk to the table worker to see if they can arrange for your child to fight in another match.

27. Teach your child good sportsmanship - remind them to shake their competitor’s hand before and after the match and to congratulate their competitor if they win. Be respectful of the competitors, coaches and workers.

28. Encourage your child to watch his teammate’s matches. Personally, my favorite part of the tournament experience is the camaraderie shared between the team. I believe that tournament days bring the team closer. Hearing your team mates cheer you on during a match fuels you to keep going. Words of support are comforting after a loss, and celebratory hugs make victory even sweeter.

29. Remember to give your child moral support. Remind them that the tournament experience should be enjoyable. Remind them that it is natural to be nervous and that their competitor is as nervous as they are. Remind them that you love them win or lose. Tell them to go out there and do their best, but most importantly, make sure they have fun.

30. Inevitably some children will end up crying. This can be as a result of a loss, frustration or simply stress. As stated above, reassure your child. Remind your child to also reassure and comfort his teammates as needed.

As a helpful tip, prior to the tournament, teach your child relaxation techniques. Hunter uses breathing exercises– inhale through the nose for a count of four, hold for a count of four, exhale through the mouth for a count of eight. I see him use it from time to time in class, and most recently at his first competition.

Truly evaluate his or her readiness for a tournament before encouraging him or her to compete. The experience can make or break a child’s will to keep training.

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