Everyone’s Competition Journey is Different

On March 30th (2010) I competed in my first tournament as a 6-month white belt. I faced a black belt.

There were so few women competing back then that we didn’t have belt divisions. It was the trials for Abu Dhabi pro in Montreal and the venue felt huge and intimidating. For some reason I had a sort of naive confidence despite being terrified. A strange dichotomy, I know.

I don’t know why I insisted on pulling guard, probably because I had done no wrestling at this point. I thought I had a chance.

I (tried to) pulled guard with pretty much no grips and got my ass handed to me. It’s funny and uncomfortable to look back at the photos and see such bad Jiu jitsu.

But it reminds me of how I felt when I first started; excited, overzealous, badass, determined, on my way to becoming invincible. It reminds me how far I’ve come and the results of not giving up. It reminds me of everything I’ve pushed through to get to my two stripe purple. 

After I lost, someone I didn’t know found me on Facebook and send me a message. He said I was brave for going for it and that I clearly tried my best. Years later I joined a new gym in a different city and got to know a new training partner. As we chatted we realized he was the one who had sent me that message!

I’ve never medaled consistently in tournaments. I’ve won some, lost most and learned from all. I resigned myself to the fact that I’ll never be a world champ, but competing has put me outside of my comfort zone and that’s where the magic happens. It has pushed my limits, has given me panic attacks that I then learned I was strong enough to survive. It has brought me friends, given me a reason to travel all over the world. I think I’m done competing at this point but I’ll never regret all the road trips, the weight cuts, the training and drills, the nerves, the elated feeling of victory and the heartbreak of loss.

I had no idea what journey I was embarking on as that little engine that could of a white belt, a total beginner but determined to try my best and find my warrior spirit. 

Competing can take a toll on us. Physically, that’s for sure. But emotionally as well. We can identify too much with the losses and let them affect our mental health and our sense of self worth. We can let the pressure get to us and be overcome by anxiety. I’ve definitely done all of that before but it’s something to grow from and to get better at every training session.

Competing might not be for everyone but it is a hell of an experience and it is extremely rewarding. It has taught me about Jiu jitsu and it has taught me about myself. It has taught me that competing against yourself, to be better each time, is the most important.

I loved competing and I leave it behind with gratitude and fond memories. Everyone has their Jiu jitsu journey but the key is perseverance. 

No matter where you start or what your goal is, never give up, face challenges head on and let them mold you into the person you want to be. 

 Valery White belt vs black belt

Submitted and written by Valéry Brosseau

Valéry has been training and volunteering in mental health for 8 years, and is a purple belt under Fernando Zulick.