Progress is very hard to measure objectively in BJJ. This is why there are no world wide standards for a certain stripe or a certain belt. While certain organizations and associations have a general rulebook, it’s often left to one’s instructor to determine.
Psychologically we often fall into our own traps. Setting unrealistic expectations is one of the typical pitfalls. And it goes beyond projecting unimaginable competitive success. Truth be told, you can’t really bank on your progress being constant.
One often thinks if they attend a certain number of trainings per week they will keep advancing in a linear manner. This is incorrect because men are creatures of habit – we fall into patterns easier then we’d like it to be. Especially given that certain aspects of fighting give us emotional gratification whether it be winning or just utilizing a specific move.
Jiu-jitsu is all about learning how to be uncomfortable and this applies to every single practice. Naturally some techniques suit us better then others and while we do gain with repetitions at a certain point you’re probably better off trying to do something else rather then countering that single leg with a guillotine for a thousandth time.
Your academy is supposed to be a safe environment you could use to try out different aspects of your game. Latest video by Nick Albin highlights all of this in a situational drill.
He constructed a drill where the top person is not allowed to pass the guard. They are strictly limited to breaking grips and balancing. The person on the bottom goes a 100% and tries to sweep or work on Open Guard.
This type of scenario is designed to develop gameplay that is otherwise avoided because exposing yourself too much with an open guard in sparring might lead to 5 minutes of being kneaded in side control of a much heavier opponent.
Another thing that often happens is a player will reach a plateau. This signifies a period where the learning curve is not quite as steep and it might even appear that nothing is happening.
While it’s possible your academy was focusing on a series of techniques that just aren’t suited for your body type, it’s equally likely you might be having an off period.
If you feel like you’re stagnating there are a couple of things you could do to address the issue and push through it.
- You might need to be more systematic in your approach. Find a move that can be considered a next step for something you’re already doing. This is all so it would be effortless to integrate into your existing game. Sometimes you’ll learn a great technique but a setup will not just come organically.
- Perception is a powerful thing. Stop self evaluating for a while and just focus on trying new things. Self evaluation is akin to a dog chasing his own tail. It’s never gonna happen objectively
- It might be a good idea to talk to your instructor and see what he/she considers your flaws or zones for improvement.
- Stop overthinking everything. When you allow yourself to become preoccupied with things beyond your current reach you miss out on plenty of enjoyment to be had from the knowledge you’ve already acquired. Take a trip down the memory lane and remember how it was to pull off those first couple of sweeps way back when.
- Being persistent is definitely one of the defining attributes of every jiujitero. The lifestyle can be hard physically but even more so mentally. Knowing you can overcome an obstacle is the first step to actually overcoming it. You need to have faith in yourself and your abilities. Sooner or later you will have a breakthrough but only if you keep coming to practice and keep trying hard to integrate innovations.