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For me, after eight years of training, there are no ‘downs’ in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, just valuable lessons. We have all felt as if we aren’t making progress, have hit a plateau or can’t seem to get any better, but as long as every training session is viewed positively, there is only progress. It’s natural to compare yourself with others but I believe we should be happy with our own advancement and providing you are attending training sessions, you’re progressing.

Getting to training has been a challenge for me in the past. I have had long periods without obvious progression or so it seemed at the time, but now I feel that every time I step on the mat, I’m taking a few more steps forward.

Natural instinct makes us all want to fight and want to win, but now the key to success in my opinion is to go to training to learn. If I tap someone I learn, if I’m tapped, I learn. With this mentality, I never lose.

If my training partner taps me, he’s shown me where a weakness is – thank you. I wish I’d had this approach years ago, I think I would be much further on – although all the frustrations have made the successes sweeter. I hope this little post helps people to travel the Jiu-Jitsu journey with greater ease than I sometimes have.

In terms of relaxing, I’m still not quite there though. I need to open up more in sparring, take more risks and try new things – the cost is dear if I don’t find the mental strength to try new ideas, new techniques. The cost is nothing if I get caught, I’ll just tap, and try again. I’m truly trying to become ego-less, not just someone who has heard the saying ‘leave your ego at the door’ – I don’t want an ego, full-stop. Once that last little bit of ego is chipped off, and I’m close – I believe the start of the path to real technical development will have been reached. In the past it’s only been me that’s held myself back, by allowing myself to become tense when sparring, not allowing myself to use my full arsenal of skills because I haven’t wanted to run the risk of finding myself in a bad position – I now believe that if I can relax more and let my skills go, I’ll slowly start to flourish.

I’ve read that Rodolfo Vieira taps at his team home with teammates – he tries to really let his game go in training. He’s one of the best in the world and rarely taps in competition.  I would imagine he understands the difference between training with friends and competing against opponents in competition – this I expect helps him to constantly improve his skills in new areas so that when competing – the tapping has already been done and he can unleash a huge highly refined, technical skill-set.

Every tiny success needs to be enjoyed and savored as another little step in your Jiu-Jitsu evolution. Analysing every outcome will make us stronger and keep us interested – that’s the beauty of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Enjoying the obvious successes and replaying in your mind, the moments that led to achievement and analysing also, what led to us needing to tap out – using the experience positively to start to close another chink in your armour is essential. Looking forward to playing Jiu-Jitsu all over again – is key.

Be tense, don’t take chances and use the same tried and tested techniques week in week out without being brave enough to flex newly acquired Jiu-Jitsu skills and the journey will be less interesting and take more time – in my humble opinion, you will struggle to acquire a repertoire of silky smooth BJJ.

If you and I can reach the stage where our best is always good enough and look at every outcome positively, we’ve got huge potential to become technically very good. I look forward to walking down the path of pure technical BJJ development.