When you first start BJJ it is a fascinating mix physical chaos and mental gymnastics. The fight or flight response floods your system and for some of you it may be the most intense thing you have undertaken in years perhaps your entire life.
Once you have a basic understanding of what is actually going on and have been training for 6 -12 months you start to see so much more of what is actually going on and your total jiu-jitsu awareness broadens- now you know how little you know.
This can be quite confronting for many people as you have already had to work hard, taken some beatings, maybe sustained an injury or 2 and now it hits that you are now only really beginning.
So you continue working harder, getting to any extra class you can. You go to open mats, comp classes and you finally get your courage up to do your first comp. Constantly you are gauging yourself off other white belts and your higher rank teammates. How else are you meant to know where your skill level is at?
This is where the problem begins.
As you are improving so too are most of those around you. Applying their effort and hard work to this physical and mental struggle that we call BJJ. How effective you are at learning and practicing may see you get the edge on your team mates but eventually for a variety of reasons they catch you up and even excel far beyond you and you can’t workout why?
IT DOESN’T MATTER!
The Hardest thing about BJJ is the struggle never stops. You cannot conquer BJJ. The fight is never won and you can always improve. There is always someone better but that is not the point.
Comparison = Distraction
The only real things you should focus on in order to improve in BJJ are technical ability and your over all awareness of BJJ principles. You really need to understand the ‘Why’ (principal) behind the ‘How’ (technique). This is harder achieve without a great depth of experience but that is what your instructor is there for, to guide you toward understanding not just mindless repetition.
In order to improve you must accept that Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is and always will be a huge challenge, smashing your ego and leaving you questioning your decision to show up to class in the first place.
BJJ is the epitome of struggle and that is why it good for us. The expectation that this struggle will reduce or that things will get easier once you get your next belt or win your next championship is an illusion.
The truth is we fight, quiet, unknown struggles in the shadows unseen. No one knows or cares but we still fight as if our life depended on it. The value is in the fight, that’s what makes us better. The courage to keep showing up, pushing ourselves to climb a never ending mountain, which is the path to mastery.
The hardest thing about BJJ is the best thing about BJJ. Accepting the struggle on all levels and knowing it only really matters to you, is one of the most powerful understandings you can achieve. This will unlock a level of happiness and enjoyment that comparison strips away.
In order to measure if you are getting better at BJJ compare yourself to you from 3-6 months ago. Could you beat that person in a roll? Could you teach that person something about BJJ? Great. Then you are on track.