Magical Techniques, Gambling, and the Cure All Medicines of Jiu Jitsu

“The closest thing to a shortcut is a solid system.” – Dr. Jeff Spencer

This quote inspired me to write this article. We’re all looking for an easier way to get the best results now. Many times to a fault. Ad agency’s, celebrities, and athletes are selling us miracle potions that will do things thought impossible, until now. The idea that the government, or the big corporations have been hiding this info from us to control the money and power peeks our interest. Or maybe its the newest scientific break through to come along. The product has pictures of elements, and chemical bonds on it, it must be high tech stuff. Or maybe a Doctor has discovered a special fruit extract from some far exotic region of Europe. Only goat herders that live until 150 used it, but now it’s finally available to you. Now, take that “new secret formula” and add in our inability to delay gratification, and you have suckers lining up around the block to drop their hard earned cash on the latest snake oil. “Think of the goals I’ll be able to reach once I take a swag of this stuff! I’ll beat all my competitors, I’ll get my black belt in no time, and I’ll win the IBJJF award for most awesomest dude! All I have to do is buy this thingy? Jackpot right?!

This week at the gym, I’ve been talking about how there’s no magical techniques in Jiu Jitsu. You have to spend time training, and analyzing. Ask yourself, what’s not working in my game, and try to fix it. “I keep getting stuck in side control. I have bad performances when I don’t sleep. I hold my breath when I train.” By fixing the pot holes in our game, we’ll be able to break free of the things that keep us down, and from reaching full potential. Once that’s been done, we can transition freely to the stronger points of our game. It can be a challenge to think this way, but we some times have to take a step back to take 2 steps forward. After you’ve dealt with that, ask yourself, “what’s working for me in my game?” Once you’ve identified those parts, look to up level them. If you’re having success in certain areas, that’s a clue to keep pursing them, you’re on the right track! “I perform well when I drink water all day. People have a hard time passing my guard. When I train with, so and so, I have a lot of fun, and we’ve gotten much better”. Use those kind of signs to keep exploring that area of your game, and look to improve it. If it’s as good as it gets, look to add more options to it.

Many times, we ignore the simple answers in front of our noses. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, right? Instead of choosing to improve our current systems, we gamble on the flavor of the month. Maybe, it’s the new crazy technique, perhaps the latest diet, or it’s the newest most “extreme” strength and conditioning program. We’ll never be able to fix the real issues, if we’re looking outside of ourselves for answers. Instead of  trusting what has worked for us up until now, we’re hoping wishing and waiting for different fads to come along and save us. Sure those things can help, but do you really need more cardio, complex moves, and strength just to waste it on bad technique, and poor training habits? That’s not efficient! Keep things simple, look for small changes, rather than throwing all of your hard work away and starting over with something you’ve never done yourself. The answers are usually pretty obvious, and right in front of us. Be confident enough to look for the 1-2% of things that will most improve you, and don’t get caught up in the noise.

In Jiu Jitsu, when you get stuck, and you’re not sure what to do, don’t go making rash, hail mary decisions. Identify what the problems actually are. Big problems can be overwhelming, try to break them up into smaller more manageable issues. Then look for small solutions to smaller problems. If that’s still impossible, ask your coaches for help if you start to freak out. Let them talk you down as a failsafe so you don’t do something stupid. Have faith in them, they are supposed to be your mentor. They are a good resource, they’ve been right where you are now, and probably have made tons of mistakes they can help you avoid. A good coach will keep you on the right path. They’ll lead you to discover the answers for yourself, rather than just give them to you. They can give you that boost of confidence you need to stick it out a little longer in order to reach your goals. If that doesn’t work, ask other training partners, until you find an answer that makes sense for YOU. Jiu Jitsu is all about problem solving, use these opportunities to develop your abilities. The more you use it, the easier it will get.

Remember, the most important answer to the question, “How do I get better at Jiu Jitsu?” is to “Do more Jiu Jitsu!” So, keep training, be proactive, be patient, and enjoy the process.


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