The Lesson of Not Going to BJJ Tournaments

My 3 older kids train BJJ and are begging me to take them to tournaments. Their friends go to tournaments regularly and win trophies and get their rank promotions, and my kids get jealous – just like this week again, after another recent tournament. But it’s very hard for us to take our kids to tournaments. You have to get up at 5am, eat breakfast and drive 2-2.5 hours to another city to get there by 8am weigh-ins, then spend a full day there and drive back home all tired. My homeschooled kids get up late, we cook our breakfasts from scratch (which takes quite some time), we would have to bring our younger child along who will be bored, and waste a full day staying there and driving back and forth.

There are families that are dedicated to those tournaments and don’t mind regular long driving and wasting so much time, but this just doesn’t fit into our lifestyle. It’s enough that we take them to training twice a week and spend 3 hours every time waiting there and driving around. I feel that there is a limit on what I am willing to sacrifice for my kids’ activities.

I feel bad about my kids’ being jealous and feeling like they are passed over for rank promotions, but I think that this situation can teach them a few valuable lessons:

1. They will need to work harder and stay more focused on their regular training. They won’t be able to rely on competitions for promotions and learning experience, so they will have to get all that from their regular training sessions.

2. They will have to learn that you can achieve everything you want even without promotions and trophies. You don’t need external rewards to feel accomplished and to achieve things in life.

3. Family time is important, and a tournament – with the crowds, drama, stress, kids being separated by divisions, parents being exhausted by getting up early and driving – is not really a good family time opportunity. All tournaments are scheduled on weekends so we would have to sacrifice a lot of quality family time that we would rather spend hiking, going to museums or beach, and otherwise hanging out together. When I worked at corporate jobs, there were people who volunteered for work trips and got promotions and favors from the bosses as a result. I never volunteered because I would rather spend time with family than go to work trips. I never got promotions but I had restful weekends with family. Same here: my kids will probably get their promotions slower than their teammates, but they will spend their weekends bonding with their family.

Maybe we will one day take them to a tournament when it happens somewhere nearby, but even in that case it will be a huge inconvenience. I don’t see that becoming a regular thing with us.