- Learn which part of your game that you love and work at it to make it super strong – Hopefully you’ll have a coach who will help you recognise which bit of your game you might be strongest at (at this moment in time), and help you work on it so it becomes your go-to attack, defence or guard.
- Visit another gym – Having a comfortable and awesome home gym is great, but going to another gym for a session or two gives you a totally different vibe, and might help you see something from a different perspective.
- Roll with a black belt – It’s fun. You think “oooh I’ve got something…” and then it’s all of the NOPE 0.0001 seconds later.
- Compete – I know competition isn’t for everyone, but I think everyone should try at least once to decide they don’t like it. Even if it’s just a little inter club friendly. It’s like the food your mum used to try and get you to eat when you were little… if you didn’t try it, how did you know?
- Branch out from your comfort zone – If you normally train in the gi, try no-gi, or vice versa. It’s amazing the different possibilities with both.
- Don’t underestimate yourself – Plateaus are all part of the game. Even the best black belts in the world have had moments where they felt frustrated or stuck, but the thing is is that they didn’t give up and they figured out a way to solve their problem.
- Be delighted in the small things – Okay, so you might not be winning gold at every competition, or sweeping that 100kg guy all over the mat, but sometimes that doesn’t matter. I like to look for the little things in my game to see where I’m improving. If I can sweep someone I couldn’t last week, or the guy who normally subs me in 10 seconds has to work for a minute to do so this time… that’s all improvement. You’re not going get amazing overnight, especially not at this sport!
- Find your Jiu-Jitsu family – this one is pretty self explanatory. I found mine, and they’re the best bunch of people I could ever ask to train with.
- Learn something flashy – one of my personal favourite stories is when I was grappling, before I’d really started looking at any of the nuances of BJJ, was that I asked Michael (my coach) how to do a flying armbar. He told me that there was no point learning that until I’d learnt the basics. Since then I’ve worked on my guard game, sweeps, passing etc. A few months ago, I finally learnt a flying armbar. So that’s my flashy shit ticked off. Not sure I’ll ever be able to pull it off in comp though!
- Don’t give up – If you’re getting beaten all the time, then it won’t be that way forever, new people will come in, or you’ll get better and start beating some of the old hands. Equally you won’t be a white belt forever, so enjoy it. This is the time when you’ve got the most chance to explore, with the least expected of you. Enjoy it.
Until next time,