You Gotta Believe!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

You Gotta Believe!

One of the biggest factors in being successful in Jiu-jitsu is confidence.  You have to believe and trust in your Jiu-jitsu!  It is amazing how confidence breeds success.  As I like to say, if you don't believe in your technique, your opponent certainly isn't going to either.  So how do you develop this belief in yourself and your technique? Through failure!

Yes, it seems ironic.  Because success does breed confidence and confidence builds success.  But, only through trial and error can you work out the details necessary to develop your skills, and in turn, your confidence.  So, embrace the positions that give you a hard time.  What’s the worst that can happen?  You get caught, you tap, you start over….and more importantly, you have a unique and very valuable opportunity to gain some important insights into why your technique failed.  Where was the mistake, the loss of balance, the lack of posture, the failure to recognize a potential pitfall in time.  

If, for example, you want to develop an “impassable guard”, you have to spend lots of time there, getting smashed by people better than you; people who will test you at your best positions.  Slowly, you will close up the gaps and tighten up your technique.  And your guard will start to truly become impassable! 

Obviously, as with any physical skill, your technical ability will improve with consistent and dedicated practice. But that’s not really the focus of this post.  The point that I want to stress is that if you want to have an impassable guard, you have to truly BELIEVE that you have an impassable guard.  It doesn’t mean that, in reality, no one will ever get passed your guard.  Despite our best efforts, we all still fail.  There is always someone better out there who can continue to challenge you, and you should welcome that!  But, your belief in your own ability and trusting in your Jiu-jitsu is crucial.  

I’ve had students comment in the past that they didn’t go for a move because they “knew” I would counter it.  While this is generally probably an accurate assessment, it’s not the right attitude when rolling.  Go for it!  And go for it with the belief that it WILL work.  If you’re not committed to the move, there is very little chance that it will be successful.  Worst case, you have an opportunity to see where your mistake was and work on correcting it in the future.  But you might just surprise yourself! As an avid chess player, I have often heard the following advice-“you don’t play the person sitting across from you, you play the position on the board.”  This couldn’t be any more true in Jiu-jitsu.  Don’t be intimidated because the person you’re rolling with is a higher belt.  Don’t assume you have no chance to win.  Believe in yourself, and you will be amazed with the results!  And, the upper belt that you are rolling with will appreciate it as well (by the way, this DOESN’T mean be a complete spaz…but that’s a whole other article). 

The point is, the fundamentals of Jiu-jitsu don’t change depending upon who you are rolling with.  Learn the fundamental principles of each position and focus on the position you are in, not the person you are sparring with.  Sure, they may be more skilled and knowledgeable than you in that particular position, but again, that is just an opportunity for you to learn and grow.  I want to stress that, when rolling with upper belts in particular, you should always maintain an appropriate level of respect.  But that doesn’t mean you should go into your shell and be afraid to try things.  So, always be humble enough to continue to learn and accept failure, but believe in yourself, and trust in your Jiu-jitsu!

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