Nov 232009

November marks three years of training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I’ve been mulling over the things I’ve learned in my third year, trying to figure out what to write. I could write about how my half guard game is improving, although still not where I’d like it. I might also write about not letting ego get in the way, but, while true, is a little cliché, and also something everyone hears from year one. Then it occurred to me that I’ve actually been coasting for a while. Even as I complained to some about the plateau I was on in my training, I was also passively camping out on top of that plateau, unwilling to let go of the relative comfort of what I know.

Early in the year, I started to let go of this. Realizing that I was very weak from half-guard, I made a point of pulling half guard when sparring. I would often get passed. If I’m being honest, I still get passed, just not quite as often. I have a few sweeps I like, but more importantly, I’m more comfortable from the position, better able to get up on my hip and have a strong foundation from which to add some techniques.

That was early in the year. For months in the middle, I was coasting. After over 2 years of training, I finally felt comfortable. Not awesome. Just good enough to stall a little, rest some and make it to the end of class without being completely drained. That was my problem, though. I was too comfortable. I was in a groove, going through the motions of learning, without actually trying to learn something new.

What’s really energized me recently is the idea of exposing my weak positions, seeking them out in sparring. I’m starting from turtle at least a few times each class. I’m trying not to leave my guard closed for any length of time, opening up and looking for a de la riva hook or spider guard. I’ve got a few techniques from several different positions and, while I’m not competent with any of them yet, they’re there for me to try. I have to have a direction, so knowing a few moves at least superficially helps me to move outside the comfort zone and struggle.

And that’s my goal for 2010 and my fourth year: to struggle. If I’m not struggling, whether mentally or physically, then I’m not getting better. If I’m not struggling, chances are I’m just hanging out, going through the motions, being lazy.

I also have some specific goals for 2010. I’m looking forward to Jeff’s Revolution tournament in March, as well as the Pan Ams in April. I’m going to compete as often as my schedule and my health will allow.

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