Thursday, March 6, 2014

Some Days you're the Nail & Some Days you're the Hammer

If you've been training for more than 6 months then you've probably heard this quote.  My coach is infamous for using it.  This posting is for the newbie white belt on up through the seasoned upper belt.  I think we have all been there.  One day we walk out of the gym feeling like a champ and the next day we walk out feeling like a chump.  What gives?  This is a common dilemma that most combat athletes will be faced with on a somewhat regular basis.  This happens at ALL levels.  Let's face it, no one likes to feel the latter but if you always walk out of the gym feeling like a champ you might need to re-evaluate your goals and where you are training.

The Champ
The champ as we will call it is the grappler that is probably the best guy in the gym.  He or she comes in and regularly dominates most if not all of their rolling sessions.  They have reached a level that their teammates cannot keep up with.  This person may be super talented, a harder worker, more experienced, or a combination of the above.  One might look at the champ as a level they want to attain and there's nothing wrong with goal setting but there can be some pitfalls with this situation.  The champ may have hit a plateau and not realize it.  If the champ walks out of the gym every day not having faced the adversity of defeat or struggles throughout their training sessions one must ask:  How much is this person progressing?

I have found that the largest amount of growth I have made throughout my time training Jiu-Jitsu to be most positively affected by not always being the best guy in the gym.  My personal hope is that I will have training partners that also want to improve and constantly push me.  I feel that this is essential to making progress in the sport.  The constant pressure of quality training partners pushes myself to evolve and find new ways to work through difficult situations.  Nobody likes to lose so having training partners that are also trying to evolve and outwork you is what you hope in order to keep you sharp.  A personal tip that I will share.  When I find that I am having a lot of success with a particular move against some of my training partners...I will show them what I'm doing.  Some might ask "why in the world would you do this?"  It's simple.  If I share that information then my training partners will understand what I'm doing and start formulating ideas on how to prevent or defeat that technique.  For me it's not about winning and counting taps.  I want to refine my game and for all I know this particular technique (while it may be working at the time) could definitely be better.

Last thing I will say about "the champ."  If you feel like this is you.  Ask yourself the following:

1. What can I do to change that?
2. Do I try different classes to vary my training partners?
3. Do I need to compete more?
4. Should I consider dropping in to train at some different academies?

The Chump
NOBODY likes this feeling.  I personally loathe it.  Now that being said leaving the gym feeling defeated should serve as a strong motivator for self-evaluation.

1. What went wrong?
2. What should I have done differently?
3. How do I address it?
4. How can I implement these changes into my game?

These are the types of questions that you should ask yourself after the feeling of defeat or bad training session.  This should not be limited to training but of course competition.  This serves as an excellent learning experience when you can find a solution to your problem.

Utilize your resources: talk to your coach, training partners, upper belts, online resources, etc. There is absolutely no reason to not attempt to address something that has exposed holes in your game.  If you goal is to get better then what better way to improve?  We spend a great deal of time training techniques in the gym on a daily basis to submit, sweep, take down our opponents...but how much time do you address the holes in your game?  That is how you truly get better...learning from your mistakes.  Also, don't get caught in the dilemma of only working with upper belts.  If you find yourself working with someone below your rank that is a fantastic opportunity to let go of the ego.  Put yourself in bad spots and work out of them.  This gives your partner a chance to work offense while you work your defensive game.

So next time you have a bad rolling session and leave the gym with your head down.  That's fine. Go home, lick your wounds, and get over it.  The next day start working on fixing those problems. Take them to open mat and work with reliable training partners.  Explain your goals and have a plan. Drill with low resistance.  Once you think you have it then ask your partner to start increasing the level of resistance.  Explore what kind of additional situations can arise with the new solutions.

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