Why You Should Compete

I wrote this article a couple of years ago and got some good feedback and I think it’s worth a repost:

BELT_WHITE_303_LRI was talking to one of my white belt students today to see if she was planning on competing this weekend.  I could see right away what the answer was going to be.  My words of encouragement didn’t really motivate her the way I would have wished.  I really hope she will compete, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she didn’t.  So I am hoping she reads this and it motivates her, and you to pick up your gi and come out June 3rd.

I’m maybe a little extra pushy on this topic because I know what competition has done for me and I want others to have the same opportunities.

Me as a Green BeltI remember my first BJJ tournament very well.  It was the spring of 1997 and Kyle Cardinal (the Father of BJJ in Edmonton) held a BJJ tournament at his club on the South East side.  It was a room in a health club filled with wrestling mats and not much else.  At the time I was 23, 6’2″ about 150lbs and a orange belt in Karate (I know… look out).  My BJJ experience at the time was little more than seeing a couple UFC’s on video tape and rough housing with my friends.  My knowledge of any BJJ technique was non-existent.

I went to the tournament by myself just to see what it was all about.  I had no idea at the time that Edmonton even had any BJJ instruction going on and was quite surprised with how many people showed up.  About 20-30 guys were there, it seemed like most knew what was going on.  I remember talking to one guy’s dad who said his son was going to start his own club called Scorpion Fight Club or something to that effect, I don’t think it got off the ground.

Anyways, the cost to watch was $5 (which back in 1997 dollars is more like $100 today) and the cost to compete was $7… $7! how could I go wrong?  I remember thinking to myself “for $7 I’ll get a lesson”.

judoI weighed in and I not sure how divisions were made because my first match was against a Judo Black Belt about the same weight but much shorter.  Ok, whatever… I remember not being scared (I should have been), the guy threw my in about 3 seconds and I managed to get my guard.  Now I had no clue what a Guard was, what to do from there or how to even win.  So I held him there… for 13 minutes.

In that time he tried numerous times to cross choke me from inside my guard after failed attempts at trying to pass it.  All I could think of is “he seems to not be happy where he is, let’s just keep him here”.  I had no idea about trying to choke him or counter his choke by sweeping him or armbarring him… nothing.  I am sure it was painfully boring to watch and ref.

At about the 12 minute mark he postured up and then dived forward headbutting me, giving me my first black eye ever (score).  He then continued to try and cross choke me and I eventually tapped.  Partly from the choke, partly from the headbutt and partly cause I had no clue of what to do.

triangle-slamMy second match (double elimination??? don’t know) was up against a guy in a shirt and shorts (ya, not every one had a gi) almost as tall and similar weight.  He jumped guard and I stayed standing.  I remember looking around and no one said anything, so I jumped up and bellyflopped the ground.  He made a pretty horrible noise as I pancaked him and his guard broke open.

I remember thinking that I probably shouldn’t have done that, but no one said anything so I just passed his guard.  I grabbed on to his head (Kesa Gatame) and held him there trying to figure out what to do as he struggled.  I saw the collar of his shirt and thought I could choke him like the Black Belt had done to me.  So I grabbed his shirt and tried wrapping it around his neck, stretching the crap out of it and not really getting anywhere.  During this he was trying to push me away and I grabbed his wrist, stretched his arm out and armbarred him over my leg… Hooray I won!!!

Standing-Guillotine-Jason-Culbreth-e1402510949790My third match set me up against a Judo Brown Belt about the same build as me.  I thought “I haven’t taken anyone down, I’m going to try that”  I shot in for a double leg (which was more me bending over at the waist and stretching my arms out in an attempt to grab his legs) and was immediately met with a Guillotine.  7 seconds in and the match was over.

I didn’t get a medal, beside my black eye, and to be honest I didn’t care.  I got out of it what I wanted, a lesson.  This sparked a big interest into learning this “BJJ stuff” and turned into something I love the most.  It has led me to competing more times than I can remember and has always given me what I was first looking for, a lesson.

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As adults it’s all to easy to stay in our comfort zone, for many going to BJJ class is enough excitement, but there is so much more out there that the tournament scene can offer.  Team Building, Instructor Bonding, Friendly Rivalries and meeting new friends plus so much more.  As an Instructor and father I understand the value of competition very well.  I want my students and my son and daughter to win, but only if they learn too.  Yes it suck to lose, but it really sucks to lose and not know why you lost.

Tournaments offer you a chance to test yourself, to challenge your skills against an opponent of similar skill and size, then go back to the club to get better.  You can work with your Instructor on how to fix your mistakes.  Moves you thought were good at didn’t go as planned.  Your Coach and Team mates can help you.

In the club things are much more relaxed, you choose the people you like to work with and it rarely gets out of hand.  You are in a familiar setting, your Instructor is near by if not watching directly and you are working with people you like and trust.  Once you get comfortable here it is very easy to not want to push yourself to the next level.



At the Mind Body Soul we offer White Belts an opportunity that other tournaments don’t.  Usually at a BJJ tournament All white belts get grouped together and then split by weight.  But belts in BJJ take a long time up to 2 years between White and Blue, some take more.  That is a huge experience gap.  We set up 2 BJJ divisions for white belts, under 9 months and over 9 months.  With those in the first, or Novice division getting Double Elimination.

This is a great opportunity for those new to BJJ.  Two matches to get the nerves out (which is great) and you get to go against other beginners, which is great too, but sometimes clumsy.  Don’t worry about winning.  Try to focus on doing things you know and achieving mini victories.  Can you defend a takedown?  Can you get your guard? Can you break their posture?  Can you attempt a sweep or submission?  Can you recognize if when they try to pass your guard or submit you?  Can you escape mount?

It’s the small battles that win the war and for you the war is not the tournament… it is a series of battles that will strengthen and sharpen your skills and your mind.

MBS LogoIf you haven’t registered
already or you didn’t want to compete, I urge you to reconsider.  Talk to your coach, you trust them to teach you, trust them to make this decision for you if you are not sure.  Tournaments can offer you so much, it’s been 19 years for me and it’s one of my most fun and memorable BJJ experiences ever!  It might be for you too.


I really hope to see you June 3rd

Love and respect,

Mike Yackulic

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Oh You Filthy Procrastinators

I’ll keep it short.

You know you’re going

I know you’re going

Save $20 and register before Saturday night.


It’s actually tomorrow but if I wait until then I’ll be just as bad




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Registration is OPEN!

We have things up and going for this years Mind Body Soul. 

Last year we had a great (almost record) turnout and we were finish just after 5pm.  It helps to have 8 rings and a lot of great refs.  This year we will be following the same format as last year.

100% preregistration and handled by Mata Leao.  They did a great job last year building a schedule for us that we were able to stick to.  If you check the schedule from last year it will be quite similar.

If you would like to be involved in a superfight please email me at myackulic@arashido.com

You can register at the link below, keep in mind the rate goes up May 7 so save some money and register now.


More info to come soon.


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Ok everyone.  Here you go.

The Kickboxing and Muay Thai divisions will be split at the ring.  This is to make the matches fair by taking height into account.  We will also be splitting up the experience levels for Muay Thai at the ring.

If your division is a division of two, we are doing a best 2 out of 3.  We will give you a break inbetween by running a match from another division so you get a rest.a


Please be show up 1 hour before your event is scheduled.  be at the bullpen 40 minutes before with your gi on.  This is really important for the first part of the day.

If we have a chance to get ahead of schedule we will.  So please listen for your divisions as they are listed in the schedule (see last post).


Here is the map to the veue

Venue:Edmonton Military GarrisonAddress:
Google Map

corner of Range Road 244 and Mons Avenue, Lancaster Park, Alberta, T0A 2K0 , Canada
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Schedule for the day

Ok everyone, here it is:



We would appreciate everyone to show up 1 hour before your division is scheduled.

Especially for those starting the day off.  Some of the divisions are small and we would like to get you going right away on time.  If we can start on time we can stay on time.

About 40 minutes before your divisions is scheduled we will call you to the BULLPEN, look for the banner in the corner of the Gym.



Once you go to the bullpen you will be weighed and your gear will be checked to make sure it is safe for competition.  Things we are looking for are:

  • BJJ – Gi sleeves and pants not too short or tight, no tears or holes, no blood on clothing
  • No Gi – No zippers, pockets or hard materials, no tears/holes or blood.
  • Muay Thai/Kickboxing – Proper size gloves, clean shirts/shorts with no blood.

In the event that your gear does not meet the requirements you will be given 5 minutes to find a replacement.  This goes for gear damaged (ripped or bloodied) during your match as well.  Bring extra gear if you are concerned.

Once the division before yours in the Semi Finals you will be brought to the ring by your RING COORDINATOR and instructed where to sit and wait.  DO NOT LEAVE OR YOU WILL BE DISQUALIFIED.  If you have to go to the bathroom do so before the division is called.

We will do our best to announce the divisions clearly but it is a large gym with a lot of people.  We will also do our VERY BEST to stay on schedule. so hover around the Bullpen area 45 minutes before your division is scheduled so you do not miss the call.

This is a large event and requires a lot of volunteers to make the day run smooth.  If you are nervous or excited, please be patient with the volunteers and refs and show them the respect your would like to see returned to you.

Please post questions here so they are all in the same place for everyone to see.

We will have Subway sandwiches and water for sale as well.

There are a limited amount of puzzle mats for sale at the end of the day.  Please email me at myackulic@arashido.com if you would like to save some.  1/3rd of them are already spoken for, so don’t wait.  Only $20 each for a 3’x3’x1″ mat.  Normal retail is $35-$40.

All the best

Mike Yackulic


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Next year we are looking to upgrade our mats again.  That means selling off our puzzle mat sections.  These mats are in good shape and will go fast.  When I sold the last set of 4 rings they were gone in a week.

These mats are great for those looking to spruce up their basement or private training area…

Mats are only $20 a square and roughly 3’x3’X1″

These mats retail for $29 plus tax and shipping. Shipping is the big one. So roughly $36-40new

Pick up us available after the tournament on a first come first serve basis.

Colors are blue or yellow

Cash only please

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Division list is out!

If you haven’t seen it yet here it is:

Click to access 2016_MBS_ByDivision.pdf

Now I am sure there are going to be several changes to weights or divisions.


You have until Tuesday night to make any changes.


Please email:


To make any adjustments.

Good luck

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BJJ White beltWe want you to have the best tournament experience we can offer.  Over the next several weeks we will share why YOU should come out and compete.  Granted not everything will apply to you, but some of these might make apply to a friend or teammate who is on the fence about competing.

Reason #1 is for the White Belts out there.  It can be scary as a beginner.  Class itself can be a challenge for some.  The thought of competing at a larger tournament can be down right terrifying, but it can also be incredibly rewarding and a fantastic way to test your skills in a safe environment.

At the MBS we spilt White Belts into two divisions, under 9 months and over 9 months. We know for some the journey from White Belt to Blue Belt can take some time and lets face it, putting up a 3 months White Belt vs a 16 month White Belt isn’t much of a challenge.  By splitting up the experience levels we can offer a fair challenge for those in each division.  If you are under 9 months but would like more of a challenge then feel free to go into the Intermediate Division.

To make it even better for the White Belt Novice (under 9 months) we are offering Double Elimination in the Gi.  We know that first match can really get the adrenaline going and it doesn’t alway work out the way you want.  Don’t worry.  If you lose your first match you can still go on to fight for 3rd place.

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Click HERE to Register

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2 days to register



1wReason #2 –We have women who compete!!! Enough to split up into divisions.  I remember what the scene was like in Edmonton in 1997 when BJJ tournaments were a brand new thing.  Barely enough guys came out to make it worth while, so weight classes were jammed together so we would have somebody to fight.  Experience levels? No way, my first match ever was against a Judo Black Belt (I had some Karate exp, and no BJJ at all).  This went on for several years, fighting guys many times 40-60lbs heavier than me.  So I can appreciate the situation the women are in now.

The good news is, there is a lot of you.  We just need to get you out to the same place at the same time.  If we had all the women who competed in Alberta for the last 2 years come out we would have over 30 of you.  Enough to split by weight and experience.

Women BJJ Novice divisions will be Double Elimination so you can get another chance if you are nervous for your first match.


You know there are a few women in the club what do a great job in class, they are tough, they roll with guys all the time, maybe their confidence isn’t where they want it to be but they know enough to compete against someone of similar weight and exp.  Lets rally together and encourage them to come out.

The more women that show up, the more fair and fun it will be and you know that we only need one good tournament that the women support to really get the ball rolling.


mbs logo2If there is anything I can do to help with the women competing, please email me at:myackulic@arashido.com I am very open to suggestions.

Best of luck in training and we will see you soon.

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3 days to register



ROBERTO_CYBORG_ABREU_2009_BJJ_ChampionshipsReason #3 – Double Elimination

Get more BANG for your BUCK!

We know it can be stressful for beginners and children… well actually it probably is stressful to everyone, but we want to offer some of the competitors a chance to get a second match if the first one doesn’t go your way.

Double Elimination matches will be only in the Gi divisions for the following competitors, No Gi will be Single Elimination:

All Children and Teens

Women’s Gi

Novice Adult Gi (under 9 months exp)

Executive Gi (35years + and 40years +) Novice only

MBS Logo

We hope that this will encourage more of the beginners to come out and give competing a try.  If you have a friend/training partner/teammate that falls in the above divisions, make sure they don’t miss out on this great opportunity.  The adult Novice Division is for those with 9 months of experience or less, so next year they won’t get this opportunity.

We do ask that everyone is patient with the event.  We try to schedule to allow for the Double Elimination, but is challenging.  We are happy to continue to offer this and not raise the price to compete.

If you would like to help with the event please email me to offer your help or just ask day of.  We need timekeeper/scorekeepers, referees and service people.  Any time you can donate is very much appreciated.

We will be having a volunteer and ref meeting this Saturday June 11 at the Arashi Do in the West End 704 182 St NW, La Perle Shopping Centre

Ref meeting is from 2-5pm, volunteers 4-5 with Pizza and refreshments to follow.

Good luck in training,

Mike Yackulic

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