The Three Most Important BJJ Qualities
BJJ Fanatics recently asked Tom DeBlass what he thought were the three most important qualities that a jiu jitsu practitioner should strive for or embody in their training. Without missing a beat, Tom said that they were "relentlessness, a positive attitude and gratitude to your team." These three concepts can serve as goals that we all try to improve on the way towards our goals.
As a world class competitor, coach of students who have achieved the highest grappling stages themselves and the owner of his academy Ocean County BJJ, Tom's advice can be applied by someone who is just starting out in their journey to someone who wants to be the next ADCC champion. Let's take a look at what each of these qualities can mean for the different people training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Relentlessness comes in many different forms and can manifest itself in a variety of ways in your jiu jitsu training. It is not limited to simply trying to win the match or earn gold medals. Let's look at some ways we can strive to be more relentless in our BJJ journey.
If there was one secret to getting better at BJJ and becoming more proficient at the techniques, it would be getting more mat time. By being relentless in your attendance of class sessions, regardless of how you feel, how busy you are, or whatever the obstacle that life seems to be throwing at you is you will ensure that over time, no matter your physical attributes or skill level, you will improve. You will get better with time. The goal is to relentlessly return day in and day out regardless of how the previous training session had gone. You will have good days and bad days. Each day is a new day, so show up and start again.
Relentless Goal Setting
It is important to always be striving for something. It could be a better understanding of a particular position or submission. You could be striving for your next stripe or belt. Maybe you're working on getting in better shape or trying to lose weight, or working towards your first competition or an upcoming tournament, whatever your goal is, you keep it at the forefront of your mind and use BJJ training to relentlessly move towards that goal. It doesn't matter how small the goal is, the important thing is to set the goal, develop a plan and move towards it with every ounce of being you have, until it is achieved. Once achieved, on to the next one!
Whether you are drilling or simply live training, there should be a relentlessness to your approach. When you are drilling are you working to perform as many repetitions as you possibly can in the time you have, or are you mindlessly doing the three reps with your partner and trading? By making use of the drilling time and performing as many solid reps as you can get in, you are giving you and your partner the most opportunity that you can to build muscle memory and hone your reaction skills.
When live rolling, regardless of the partner you are training with, you can be relentless with your training. If you are bigger, relentlessly use movement, not skill to achieve positions. If you are smaller, relentlessly use your escapes, your sweeps, and your patience to survive bad spots. If you are rolling with a partner who is a higher belt or more experienced, you should relentlessly attempt to work your game and defend their attacks. If you are rolling with someone newer or less experienced, then you will be able to relentlessly work on your game.
Relentless Pursuit of Perfect Jiu Jitsu
For Tom DeBlass, training and competition are all part of a quest to achieve what he often refers to as "perfect jiu jitsu." Perfect jiu jitsu is achieved when one is able to flow from position to position advancing towards the ultimate submission, without excess strength, all while countering and answering any obstacles that the opponent might put in your path. For him, it is something that every practitioner should be striving for in both our training rounds and especially in competitions. In training, more risks can be taken, while in competition, the goal is perfection and at the highest levels the difference between winners and losers can be inches or mere moments.
Positive Attitude when challenged
DeBlass is fond of saying that in the face of challenges, we learn the most. There are no easy days in jiu jitsu. It is important to embrace the space outside of your comfort zone and maintain a positive attitude at all times. Every challenge is important and none should stop us from achieving our goals. For DeBlass, it's imperative that students believe that they deserve anything they are willing to work for. Staying positive as you grind, is crucial.
Positive Attitude in the face of loss
Learning BJJ is a long road that requires perseverance. Whether you compete officially or not, you are always competing with yourself, your peers, and your fears. The longer you train or compete, the more likely it is that you will face loss. It is those times when we learn the most about ourselves and by staying positive in the face of loss, we can best learn from it and make the necessary changes and adjustments to our training that will guarantee we overcome in the future.
Gratitude Towards Your Team
Gratitude to your instructor
Recently, Tom DeBlass was awarded the third degree on his black belt from his long time instructor Ricardo Almeida. DeBlass has been with Almeida since the very beginning of his jiu jitsu career and after over 15 years, continues to express his gratitude to both Almeida and Renzo Gracie. This gratitude towards ones instructor for their sacrifices and what they do for us as students is an important foundation for the gratitude we share for others at our academy. By appreciating and being thankful for these leaders and mentors, we maintain a better sense of well being and mindset for our journey.
Gratitude to your coaches and more experienced students
Maintaining a sense of gratitude to the coaches and senior students who help guide you is also crucial to create a positive environment. By expressing your appreciation and letting your coaches know that their efforts to guide you are very important to you, you will be helping to foster a great approach to training and reinforce a positive mindset for everyone.
Gratitude to your training partners
A group that is no less important and deserves your gratitude as well are all of your training partners and teammates. These are the folks you drill with everyday. These are the people that roll with you. Be thankful and express your gratitude. You can truly make someone's day. You never know what frustrations or stresses might be weighing them down.
Gratitude to your team outside the mats
Last and not least, you should always show gratitude to the team that supports you outside of the academy. This could be family, significant others, or employers that may help support your BJJ training and lifestyle. These people are no less important than the training partners you work with on the mats.
By embracing the spirit of relentlessness, positive attitude and gratitude, and working on your BJJ related goals with this spirit you will go a long way towards achieving your goals. Tom DeBlass recently shared an impactful thought on his social media channels regarding your motivations in BJJ.
"If your purpose is to simply make money and not help others you don't deserve the black belt around your waist."--Tom DeBlass
Our motivations must be balanced between achieving our own goals and helping others achieve theirs. This is key for the the growth of the sport and martial art of BJJ. Together we can achieve all of our hopes and dreams, with hard work and relentless pursuit.
The beauty of these motivations is that you will also impact others. Your relentlessness will be an inspiration to others. Your positive attitude will be infectious, and the gratitude you share for the help and guidance of those around you, will spread throughout your academy and create a team and family atmosphere for everyone that attends.
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