It will be okay.
Students and practitioners of jiu-jitsu approach me on a daily basis with a sense of frustration. They are upset and feel like they aren’t improving. They are trapped inside of their own brain and are being armbarred by insecurity. Life would be much easier if they only realized how great they are doing.
I find myself constantly reassuring them. Most of these practitioners have been training around six months to two years. They are not really at a point where they can be the judge of their own abilities, because they do not have a complete understanding of the art. Their frustration is usually a mixture of things.
- Their techniques are not working efficiently during live training. (Timing will come)
- They think they are missing a physical attribute, such as strength or flexibility.(Technique is your biggest muscle. It is tough to shape and develop)
- They notice other students progressing faster. (Some people are fortunate to have lives designed for 24/7 BJJ)
These all sound like frustrating situations. Truthfully, until a certain point in our training, none of us have control over any of these things.
Have patience. It will be okay.
Remember, you have not gotten worse.
Early in my BJJ career, I remember hitting techniques in competition that I did not have success with in training.
Originally, these techniques were my best techniques. But suddenly, they started to not work in practice. I was incredibly confused. I wondered why they would work in a tournament, and not in class.
After much reflection, I realized that my lack of success in practice was due to my training partners improving!
At a tournament, people did not have any idea what my best attacks were and did not have an understanding of my style. This revelation helped me immensely. I would go back to training and come up with new transitions and set-ups for my best moves. This kept my practice partners on their toes!
As competitors started to figur me out, I had to do the same for them. I was forced to evolve. All that time, I just thought I sucked and was getting worse!
Your training partners are trained for you. Most of you have been rolling and practicing together for so long, your matches might seem choreographed. They know every move you make.
On top of that, just like you, they are improving! They also might train more than you and get more mat time. This is going to make things tough.
Have no fear and remember, healthy competition with practice partners is great, but too much competitiveness in practice will lead to you having a desire to see your teammates devolve. This is an unconscious thought. This type of environment becomes toxic and leads to locker room talk of “who tapped who.” If you want to see some big league improvement, you better hope your training partners are tapping you.
There is also a way to conquer those feelings.
The universe and jiu-jitsu has a unique way of working itself out. Chris Haueter said, “It’s not who’s good, it’s who’s left.” That is so true! With endurance and persistence, you can overcome all talent and all skill. The smartest and toughest people in the world will fail if they lack persistence.
Make sure that your practice is academic. Keep studying the art and searching for answers. Keep refining until your blade is shape. When you are doing your daily practice, you must remember your teammates know everything about you. They are your kryptonite.
Go into your next practice and attack with an entirely different strategy. If you play guard, try to get on top. If you prefer arm locks, attack with all chokes. If you usually pass guard, sit back for a leg.
This will put you ahead of the rest. This will keep your training sessions exciting, less frustrating, and fresh.
You are not getting worse. You are getting better. Your partners are getting better. They are making it tougher for you and your success yesterday is a failure today. It is okay. Don’t compare yourself to everyone you roll with.
Detach yourself from the comparisons and focus on the art. The art is infinite and your abilities are infinite. You will be tied down by your negative ego and constantly disappointed when comparing yourself to others.
Persistence is key. It is everything. Have a little patience. There is light at the end of the tunnel and it is so worth it to make there!