Are YOU Stopping YOUR BJJ Progress?
Two practitioners start training BJJ at the same time. They are close in age. They both attend a similar number of classes, and each student shows a tremendous amount of interest in the art. They are now 6 months deep into their study of BJJ. But there is a difference in retention and progression.
One of them is submitting his peers on the regular and giving those ranked above him a tough time. The other seems to not be progressing as quickly. Why is this? Of course every student has different attributes, both physically and mentally, but why is this gap so large? Surely, two young able bodied people should be able to keep their progression on a similar course.
The way you choose to approach your training as a beginner can either be a detriment to your progress, or it can set you up for an entire lifetime of enjoyable learning.
What holds us back?
If your ego is an issue from the beginning, you will struggle. Your retention will suffer, and your classmates will have a harder time reaching you, and assisting you. Everyone talks about the ego, and quelling it, but few rarely are able to put it aside for the purposes of their own progression. For some, one experience on the mat is more than enough to make them say to themselves, “Hey, maybe I really don’t know what I’m doing here”. From that moment on the excitement begins. It’s the best case scenario. Your mind is now open. All of those learning pathways are clear, there is no pressure, and you begin to soak it up. Embrace knowing nothing about BJJ! I can’t stress that enough! It’s refreshing. Just surrender to it. You will reap the benefits and rewards at a much faster pace. The absence of knowledge in any capacity is an opportunity to learn and grow. Embrace this is in all you do! Especially when learning how to subdue other humans!
Have you ever seen an upper rank work with a newer student, and then eavesdropped a bit, only to overhear the fresh white belt trying to instruct the senior ranking practicioner on how the technique should be performed? How about seeing the new guy try to maul smaller, weaker students at the academy. Or the experienced black belt having to defend his/herself against an onslaught of clumsy violence. Luckily they are skilled enough to assist the green pupil in not inflicting harm to themselves. This is the ego in full effect. In the defense of the new student it can be difficult to negotiate those first few months of training. Many of us think we know how to fight, only to find out it’s the opposite of everything our brain was telling us. But the mindset is everything. Jump on board with the egoless training asap, and you’ll see an immediate difference in your progress, your ability to retain knowledge, and your peers willingness to support you on your journey. Remember, no one wants to get injured. The more bad experiences your classmates have with you, the more rapidly your list of willing training partners will dwindle.
Dear veteran, Be a Leader
On the other end of the spectrum. The veteran students in the academy must foster these ideals in all new students. It’s our job to push these themes. This is our next crop of representatives for our academy, and we owe it to them to help them make less mistakes than we did, so that the standard is always being brought up to the next level. After all, we we’re all lucky enough to have those come before us who did us the same kindness!
Roy Dean is one of the preeminent BJJ instructors in the world and has been for many years. He has produced some of the finest breakdowns of BJJ technique and philosophy necessary to reach each belt level. Check out his gold standard advice for what a blue belt should know in "Blue Belt Requirements" available here at BJJ Fanatics!