After competing Saturday for the first time and losing 2-0 at NAGA, I came into class on Monday with a different attitude. From the beginning my primary interest has been in learning as much as possible every class. But I figured out that I was going to class and trying to win, and doing so frequently. What am I getting from beating guys that are at a lower level than me? Pretty much nothing.
So Monday I went in to class determined not to close my guard and NEVER to lie flat on my back when on the bottom. I have an extremely strong guard, so I think I've been doing the safe thing, keeping my guard closed, and waiting for the other guy to make a mistake, then sweeping him. That didn't work in competition.
So Monday I did what I planned, kept my guard open and got passed a couple of times by people who don't normally pass on me. I even got submitted by a guy that never catches me, but I congratulated him and didn't let it bother me.
The other guy I rolled with Monday is some Brazilian guy I've never seen before. He was good. But I kept my guard open and kept busy on the bottom, even getting to my feet whenever possible. If I had used my previous technique on this guy he would have killed me. If it were competition he would have pointed me, but he couldn't submit me in a ten minute war. I left that session feeling like I really learned something.
So if grappling effects your ego, you might want to skip competition until you're absolutely amazing because it's likely you're going to lose.
But if you want to advance your grappling by light-years as quickly as possible, compete, lose (or win), and learn more than you could possibly learn from 10 classes.