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It doesn’t get easier, you just adapt

Adapting to your training

A big problem that newer students have when they transition from a beginner focused class to an all levels class with more rolling is that it gets a lot harder for them. Which is perfectly natural.

Jiu jitsu is so unlike other sports in its movement on the ground. That’s why there is this large tutorial phase. Where you have to learn (in most academy’s) all the basic movements like forward rolls, backwards rolls, shrimping, break falling, etc and then some basic techniques.

Once you have some semblance of a base. Now it’s time for you to roll or spar.

For the unacclimated, you will be sore all over. This is normal because you are using muscles that you probably didn’t know existed. That’s the downside to Jiu Jitsu. A lot of the movements, especially on the ground aren’t traditional movements like running, jumping, and throwing.

The shrimp is a great example of this. It’s a unique movement that you have to take the time in order to develop. This goes double for all of the other ground specific moves.

I think this is a big reason why wrestlers that start Jiu Jitsu have such a hard time working from bottom. Not only does the wrestling rules set prohibit working on the ground. They also might be at such a high level on top — many new wrestlers are great on top positions in Jiu Jitsu with little training — but those same skills won’t translate well at all to the bottom game.

Another big reason I think new guys over exert their bodies is because there are so many techniques and the freedom to use those techniques. That it can become overwhelming.

It’s not like in boxing where you have a set number of punches.

Jiu Jitsu gives you a lot more freedom to do what you want. Which is great for advanced students. But what usually happens with newer students is this analysis paralysis where they don’t know what to do. They might have a few techniques but when those techniques don’t work. They either wing it or they stop moving. Which leads to a lot of hesitation, anxiety, or trying every technique they know at 100%. 

When you don’t know what to do or how to address a particular position. Then you will be way less efficient than if you do know what to do.

A great comparison is a higher belt passing the guard versus a lower belt.

Depending on who they train with. If the higher belt trains with a newer student they should have many different options to pass the newer students and the experience necessary to combat what the student does. In effect, a very efficient system for passing the guard.

On the flip side, put the newer guy in the same position and I can assure you that they will expend a lot more energy overall than the higher belt. Lots of mental energy trying to rack their brain on their next move. And a ton more waste of physical energy moving around and trying a million different crazy things lol. 

So couple new movements, with a large, open move set and you get a lot of newer students burning out when they reach more advanced classes.

As far as the remedy to this situation. It’s very complex. Some combination of knowing when to rest and take days off so that your body can recover is important.

Also, I think focusing your move set down to a few positions that you know really well will help a ton. For instance you only just learned closed guard and now you have to spar? Well try to keep your opponent in your closed guard as much as you can. If you become hyper focused on one position it eliminates that analysis paralysis since you will go into matches and training with a game plan. Pull closed guard and then set up your attacks like the armbar, triangle, etc. While attacking look for opportunities to sweep. Versus just trying everything and gassing out. 

Another big factor that I left out is that when you move up into a more advanced class. You will often have this urge to step your game up and prove that you can hang with more advanced students and you belong.

Everyone goes through this lol. It’s the natural progression of rolling. You want to see how you measure up against your peers and higher belts. This is definitely and ego crushing part of Jiu Jitsu because you will be getting your butt kicked for a few years.

That’s why you can’t worry about anyone else’s Jiu Jitsu. Just focus on doing what you can with your game. Your positional sparring and studying. The things that you have control over. Always try to keep Jiu Jitsu fun for yourself. Because if you’re training the same way as the poster on Reddit above. You won’t last long.

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