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The Big Picture – Are You Losing Sight Of Why You Do Jiu Jitsu
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The Big Picture – Are You Losing Sight Of Why You Do Jiu Jitsu

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At many times in life, focusing in on what's immediately in front of you is necessary in order to complete the task at hand.

But when done for too long, it can also have a blinding affect that causes you to lose sight of the bigger picture. What are your goals in Jiu Jitsu? Are you there for fitness? fun? or to become the next world champion? Everyone has their own reason for being there. That's a question that you'll have to answer yourself.

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For me personally, it's always been to become a better martial artist. I've actively trained and competed in one form of combat sport or another for the majority of my life. Wrestling, Judo, Kickboxing, MMA, and Jiu Jitsu. I love all of them. Early in my Jiu Jitsu journey, I became overly focused on winning everything. Coming from a very competitive wrestling background, where almost every activity on the training room mats was a win or lose scenario, that same mentality just followed me into Jiu Jitsu.

It's a mentality that you must have if you want to be a champion. But it's also a mentality that when not properly balanced, can create that blinding effect that causes you to lose sight of the big picture.

Coming into Jiu Jitsu, I progressed through the ranks pretty quickly. But I also came in with quite a bit of Wrestling, Judo, and MMA experience. In less than a year I was awarded my Blue Belt. Prior to being given the belt, my only thought process was to continue showing up every day. I hadn't really sat down and evaluated how things were going. But getting promoted changed that.

After sitting down and taking a look at where I was, it was pretty clear that I had lost sight of why I was there. I wasn’t headed in the right direction to accomplish my goals. A grappling session on any given day pretty much looked the same. Get the takedown, pass the guard, work to mount, submit. Now you might be saying, isn't that what you're supposed to do?

The answer is both yes and no. Yes, that is the general path you would take in a Jiu Jitsu match. But the way I was doing it is where the problem lied.

Having a strong wrestling background, I was able to build a very affective top game. Great takedowns got me into a top position, and a strong base made it very difficult for people to sweep me. Which is great, except for the fact that I wasn't there just to grind other guys out. I was there to become a better martial artist. I wanted to be good everywhere. But the way that I was approaching things on a daily basis was not accomplishing that goal.

My entire game evolved around me doing what I needed to do to win each exchange. My takedowns where already great so that wasn't an issue. But passing was always done in a slow methodical method to ensure I wouldn't get swept. And all of my submissions were of the type where I never risked losing position. Why? Because I was horrible off of my back. I had a few sweeps that were not even really descent, but at least there. Submissions were pretty much non existent. My only saving grace was an ability to create scrambles and then use my wrestling to take back a top position.

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Sure I had progressed in the time I had been training. But only in a single direction. I really just improved on things that I was already good at. I hadn't grown at all. So I made the decision right then and there. Things needed to change. Every single roll, on every single day, I would sit to my butt and start from the bottom position. And I would do so until I was as good off of my back as I was on the top.

Not going to lie, the first month really sucked. I instantly went from being the guy smashing people to the guy getting smashed. It definitely took some time for me to work out my bearings with this new approach. But eventually, (after what seemed like a very long time….) it paid off and I was able to get my bottom game on par with my top game. Once that was there, I began integrating the two so they would become one. A single unified game where I was a competent grappler from every position.

This approach may or may not be applicable to you. But for me, it was what I needed to obtain my goal, my reason for doing Jiu Jitsu in the first place. Because the big picture for me was to become a better martial artist. To be a good grappler from every position. Again, your reason for doing Jiu Jitsu is something that only you truly know. But whatever that reason is, don't lose sight of it. Whether you're there for fitness, fun, or to become a world champion. Make sure that every day you're working towards that accomplishing that goal.

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