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Fail Often, Fail Fast

Fail Often, Fail Fast

Want to know the secret to getting good really quickly?

Fail.

A lot.

Now I'm not saying to go out and get beat up every time you put yourself on the mat.

Or am I?

Ego is the enemy of good jiu-jitsu.  If you don't give yourself a chance to experiment and fail at it, you are going to find yourself doing the same things you did at the beginning and not growing as a practitioner.  

Every one of my instructors has tales of failure. They wear them with a certain amount of pride.

Notice I said tales and not tale? On every black belt's journey, there are many failures they've encountered, but they don't look at them that way.  No, they view them as opportunities to learn from. You don't fail in jiu-jitsu you merely find a way that doesn't work on your journey to seeing what works.

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Before you begin your path of learning and growing though, you have to do some house cleaning first.

Check your ego at the door. Like I mentioned above, it will hold you back.

Do you feel awkward trying to learn that sweep and even white belts are getting past you?

Good.

Keep trying.  Keep failing. Keep working.

You know why?  Because someday, and it's probably sooner than later, but the move will begin paying off.  Pretty soon the white belts won't be able to get past you. Then you will start catching them with the sweep.

Then the blue belts will begin falling victim.  You will have to adjust your approach though because they have more experience but that's great!  It means you're adapting your sweep to a higher level game.

Next are the purple belts.  You will find them making adjustments much faster now so the sweep will be tougher.  

Stick with it.  Eventually, it will work on them too.

Can you see the pattern?  

Have confidence in yourself and in whatever it is you are trying to learn.

Someone somewhere is pulling it off on high-level opponents.  Why can't you?

Have Patience.

This game takes time to learn. Don't get caught up in the overwhelming feeling of not knowing enough.

I'll let you in on a little secret.  That feeling never goes away.

Settle in for the long haul.

The quicker you can accept the fact that you will never know everything and you focus in on the few moves that complement your body type and circumstances (conditioning, age, etc) the happier you will be.

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What's interesting about this is even though you focus in on just a few moves, in reality, your mind is going to open up to other possibilities and different ways to use those moves in various situations.  

It may seem like I'm making a contradictory statement when a few paragraphs I said if you don't give yourself a chance to experiment you will only do the moves you are comfortable with.

It's a subtle yet huge difference.

By experimenting and putting yourself in vulnerable positions and figuring out the best way to deal with them what you are doing is building a game that can deal with multiple scenarios.  

For example, let's say you are primarily a top player. Maybe you wrestled in high school, so your base is pretty decent.  However, you may not feel comfortable fighting from your back. You've been conditioned never to give your back up and let's face it, fighting from this position is exhausting.

You need to find something you like to do from your back and develop it.  Otherwise, all you are going to do is become an incredibly one-dimensional player.  Yes, your pressure is going to be amazing. Your pins are going to be very difficult to get out of.  But what happens when your opponent is better than you at that game?

What do you do to counter his pressure?  What do you do to get out of his pins?

It is much better to work on these questions when you're fresh and with your instructor asking questions than it is during a match.

Find someone with a similar game or body type to you and ask them questions as well.  

From there begin experimenting as I outlined above.  Try it on inexperienced white belts and move up the ranks until you have the confidence necessary to pull it off in your sleep.  

Before you know it, you've got a game.  A game you worked hard for and can use anywhere.  

When you are rolling, don't worry about 'winning' instead focus on learning.  Put yourself in uncomfortable situations and work your way out.

Tap to white belts.  Who cares? 99% of the time they are going to know if you opened up on them you could submit them at will, but who does that help?  

However, if you put yourself in a bad situation and get caught, you are also helping your partner develop their own game.  

In the right environment, it fosters respect from the lower belts too because they know you trust them enough to be vulnerable.  

When you check your ego at the door, you are helping everyone you train with including yourself.

If you are wondering about a good system to develop your bottom game and are primarily a top player, Mastering The Lasso Guard by Marcos Tinoco is a great option.  

Here's why, as a top player you are concerned with control.  Pinning and pressure are your bread and butter.

When you play from the bottom, you lose that.  

With the lasso guard, you get to maintain and even gain control even though you are on the bottom.  Your entwined leg and grip is both frustrating and dangerous for your opponent.

Tinoco breaks down each position masterfully giving you options based on what your opponent does. It's a game that can carry you to black belt if you are patient and diligent. If you apply his instruction with the principles of this article, you will find yourself with a well-rounded game.

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