Guest post by James Duscio, a BJJ black belt under Walter Cascao Vital. He runs Cascao Evolution BJJ out of Las Vegas nv.
In BJJ we often feel like we are making two steps forward and one step back. We learn an arm bar, it’s little bit of an awkward movement at first, but after a bit of practice you get it down really nice. Then its time to roll and you decide its time to attempt it on a resisting opponent. The two of you go back and forth and then just as you drilled it and envisioned it countless times you see the opportunity flash in front of you. Everything goes silent, you get tunnel vision focus on their limb, you secure the arm and Just as you start leaning back for the finish, your arm bar is countered. And not only have you lost your no fail technique, you are now on bottom getting tapped by the same arm bar you just attempted.
This scenario that just played out may seem to somebody on the outside as a complete failure, but to BJJ practitioners, this is progress. Take the first successful climb of Mt. Everest in the early 1950’s as a perfect example. In order to climb a high peak at nearly 29,000 feet of altitude, you really need to plan, practice, attempt, fail, learn and then repeat. The preparation and equipment needed to reach the peak is tremendous but forget for a moment the logistics of pulling such a feat off and lets just analyze the actual climb itself. Climbers after being acclimated need to map out a game plan and route to make it from base camp to base camp 1. They have a picked out elevation and distance as to where it will be but the way to get there is still to be discovered.
Depending on the crevasses, ice fall, rock formations, weather, snow depth, equipment loads, and physical abilities, the original route game plan changes many times and making it to the actually destination for the next base camp is often times not even achieved in the first couple attempts. But what is achieved is that each attempt gives the climbers more experience, a better understanding of the terrain, and the ability to change and adapt to eventually reach the next base camp. This was done many times by Sir Edmond Hillary and Tenzing when they became the first to pull of this accomplishment.
Now apply their example to your BJJ game. Instead of seeing that failed arm bar attempt as a loss, look at it as discovering a new reason why the arm bar did not work. Figure out how to shut that option out as an escape route for your opponent and then the next attempt will be more technically sound and prepared.
When you look at it from this perspective you realize when you lose you learn and even if you feel like you failed and your game has taken a step or two back, in reality the learning and the exposure of your weaknesses is a step forward. Learn from the guys on Mt. Everest: Plan, Practice, Attempt, Fail, Learn, Repeat.