Jiu Jitsu Progression

Jiu Jitsu Progression by Justin Mitterling

Much like in life, everyone progresses in jiu jitsu at different speeds. I have found that when training it is most beneficial to be goal oriented, this will enable you to measure yourself, so to speak, when training. For example: when I roll with my trainers I pretty much know that I’m going to tap to them, odds are that they will probably tap me several times within the round. So to measure myself I  say: “ok, they may arm lock me but I will defend the choke with everything I have”. This doesn’t mean I will give up the arm lock intentionally it simply means that choke defense is my number one priority. I find that I get less frustrated when I set little goals like this for myself. Even if I do get choked its certainly not the end of the world, I just work harder the rest of the round to defend my neck. Obviously your goals will vary depending on your jiu jitsu skill level and that of your training partner. As a relatively new jiu jitsu blue belt I often have goals to simply defend attacks from my more skilled training partners. When I roll with someone at or below my skill level my goals change to perhaps passing guard, attaining the mount position and submitting with a specific  submission. Being a very goal oriented person in general I find this is an effective remedy for the many frustrations that come with training in the gentle art (jiu jitsu). This may not work for everyone and really everyone has to find things that may work just for them.
Progression then within the world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can only truly be accurate when you measure yourself and do not compare yourself to others. It is important to remember that everyone around you who trains regularly is improving as well. So measuring yourself against them really isn’t an accurate measure of your progress. It is like standing on an escalator 5 steps behind someone. If neither of you move, you will never catch up to them while on that escalator.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is so dynamic that people may progress in spurts in some areas and then flatline in other areas (at least this is the case with me). The key I believe to working through those tough times is simply consistency and patience with yourself. In addition I don’t think it is a bad idea  to take some time off the mats either (you can have to much of a good thing)  If you have a really rough training session and your feeling burned out take a few days or a week off. I find that this clears my mind and when I come back I am excited and ready to learn.

Maintaining that learning attitude is crucial in this sport. There really is no room for ego on in jiu jitsu. One experience I will never forget was when Grandmaster Flavio Behring (ninth degree red belt)was in town for a seminar and demonstrating a specific technique he turned to one of our trainers Pedro and said “you specialize in this type of sweep” to which  Pedro responded “no sir, I specialize in learning” (this coming from a 2nd degree black belt). If someone as skilled as Pedro can maintain such as an attitude it should be a breeze for the rest of us. Well now that I have rambled completely off topic I will end this post. I “progressed” from talking about progression to maintaining a humble attitude :)

Justin is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Blue Belt under Rob Handley at Absolute MMA in Utah. He maintains his blog at http://jiujitsu17.blogspot.com