How meaningful has your BJJ competition experience been to you?
By Gustavo Dantas
Have you ever competed in a jiu-jitsu tournament? If so, regardless of the outcome, what is one of the most meaningful experiences you have had in a tournament?
If you haven’t competed yet, it is never too late to try J. I believe that every jiu-jitsu practitioner should try to compete at least once in his or her life. The entire experience will first have you focusing on getting ready, your diet, and the amount of sleep you are getting. When the day of the tournament arrives, that focus will change to where you are evaluating your mental and emotional state, as you try to perform your best on the mat, while under pressure.
Personally, competition changed my life in so many ways. As a teenager, it gave me direction while also teaching me about success and failure. I learned how to deal with my fears and anxieties, so that I could perform to the best of my abilities, both on the mat and in my life.
I don’t know what benefits competitions have brought into your life, but I know that there is a good chance that you have learned some important lessons and gained some powerful memories.
All those lessons and experiences that we have had are great, but most likely not too many people have had the life experiences like Wantuir Spenciere has had in his lifetime.
Wantuir is a competitor who discovered the sport of jiu-jitsu when he was only 10 years old. He stumbled across a social project, “Projecto Pedra 90”, that is led by fifth degree black belt, Fernando “Fepa” Lopes in São Paulo, Brazil. The project offers opportunities to both kids and adults in impoverished areas of São Paulo, and allowed them to train in jiu-jitsu for free.
The “Projecto Pedra 90” has become quite successful over the last decade as it has impacted thousands of people.
Wantuir is one of the thousands of success stories in this project and his coach, “Fepa”, stated “When Wantuir discovered BJJ, he fell in love with the sport and in only a few months, he was already competing and doing well”.
In 2009, when Wantuir was about to turn 16, “Fepa” had the idea to take him to compete at the IBJJF Pan Championship in California.
Everyone managed to raise the funds that were needed for both the competition and travel, but there was a much larger problem that they still needed to solve. Wantuir had never met his father and he needed a signature from him for both his passport and travel authorization, and he needed it sooner than later.
Thankfully, “Pedra 90”, quickly found his father in Sao Paulo, so Wantuir had the opportunity to meet him and obtain his signature for the trip. What do you think about that as a meaningful tournament experience?
When Wantuir was 20, he had a chance to go back to the United States for a few months, and this is when he had an opportunity to fight his first MMA fight.
Wantuir is now one of the instructors for the Social Project and you can watch him compete at the IBJJF São Paulo Open on September 16th and 17th. He will be there with eleven other teammates and they have all been sponsored by the non-profit organization of Live Jiu-Jitsu, which I co-founded in 2010.
Kneeling: Wantuir (third from the left) and “Fepa” (Fourth from the left)
Live Jiu-Jitsu has been able to purchase new mats for projects as well as new and used gi’s. LJJ also pays for tournament registration fees with the help of financial donations, memorabilia donations from athletes like José Aldo (Former UFC Featherweight Champion) and Marcio Andre (Black Belt World Champion) that are auctioned on Ebay, and sponsorship partnerships.
Back in 2012, I came up with a concept to help BJJ competitors become more emotionally mature to handle the under pressure situations on and off the mats more efficiently. Live Jiu-Jitsu partnered with The BJJ Mental Coach, so that this concept could continue to grow and improve while helping competitors.
100% of the proceeds from the sales of The BJJ Mental Coach merchandise (T-Shirts and Patches) that is sold by Live Jiu-Jitsu is donated to our non-profit organization to help fund social projects in the United States and Brazil.
You can find those products and the LJJ patches on the website www.livejiu-jitsu.org
I encourage you to become a supporter of the Live Jiu-Jitsu non-profit organization and help the social projects in both Brazil and the United States. This will allow us to continue doing amazing work as we change lives through jiu-jitsu.