Beginning a Martial Art is a giant step in the right direction that reaps all sorts of physical and psychological benefits. Martial arts are a catalyst for lifestyle change and improvement. I’ve come across so many individuals who have capitalized on the positive influence that Jiu Jitsu has brought to their lives and led to their “180” so to speak. Eating healthier, living healthier and most importantly thinking healthier.
For some, the hardest part of Jiu Jitsu is the white belt…For others it’s blue and so on and so forth. The most important thing to recognize is that there are obstacles at every belt, for every individual. When a student has put in the years of dedication and hard training and receives their black belt, it does not mean that their hard fought battles are over, it just means that they’re introduced to a new world of more intricate and detailed obstacles.
With that said let’s get into some tips to help you improve your mental confidence to overcome these obstacles we will encounter at all levels….
Rule #1 – Have Fun!
It’s that simple, the first rule for overcoming mental road blocks is the reason that all different walks of life stroll through the dojo’s doors and unite on the mats…from school teachers to students, from police officers to garbage men…what brings us away from all of our own personal daily duties for a few hours a week is the fun Jiu Jitsu brings to our lives. When you’re having fun, there is no hierarchy, there is no expectations or stresses.
Remember: Fun is what creates the comradery and positive energy that sets the tone of that day’s class for yourself. Recognize that and appreciate it.
Don’t Over Analyze!
While you can definitely benefit from observing your Jiu Jitsu, over-analyzation can impede your improvements as well as discourage you. It’s important not to ponder or “beat yourself up” over getting “tapped” or having an “off week”. When you over-analyze and focus on all the things you‘re doing wrong, you’re not focusing on all the things you’re doing right!
Here’s an example of a healthy analysis.
Two students are rolling, “Student A” keeps getting his guard passed by “Student B”.
Rather then over-analyzing all the reasons his guard is getting passed, “Student A” says “What am I doing wrong here that I keep getting my guard passed?” which leads us into the next tip…
It’s vital to your improvement to ASK QUESTIONS. When you are confused or unsure of something that you’re doing or just plain want to know about a specific position or scenario JUST ASK! When you ask a question you’re immediately addressing an issue and solving a problem instantly rather then putting it off and stalling progress.
Check your EGO at the door
Ego is a cancer. It will eat you up and beat you up! Ego is one of the biggest impediments to progression, so check it at the door. Ego will get in the way of asking questions. Remember that in Jiu Jitsu, not everyone is going to go out of their way to tell you what you’re doing wrong so it’s important to ask. The biggest mistake I see is upper belt’s being too egotistical to ask a lower rank “How did you sweep me like that? that was awesome!” or “Hey man- that sweep was awesome can you show me that?”
The ones who leave their ego’s at the door progress at a faster rate due to their desire and will to learn.
It’s very healthy to have a goal list. Whether it’s goals for that day’s class or a goal for 6 months down the road. Setting short-term goals for yourself creates an opportunity for you to fulfill a realistic desire. When you obtain that goal your brain receives the same type of emotional excitement and happiness as it would if you won $100 on a $1 scratch-off.
With that said, set small goals for yourself…whether it’s hitting that sweep from half-guard or submitting someone with that new arm-bar you saw on the internet.
When you put in that extra little bit of effort, and push your body past boundaries that you thought were non-existent, you’re building a strong mind. Those 20 extra armbars are 20 more then your opponent is doing. The depths of fatigue you take yourself to, is building your cardio AND mental strength…the mental and physical strength you’ll need to finish that submission when your opponent is exhausted. The energy you’re exerting during the guard passing drill is way more then the guy who is coasting through the drill to conserve energy, and that builds your aggression AND mental strength because your bringing BOTH your mind and body to depths others aren’t.
YOU are GREAT!
In everything you do have CONFIDENCE. Have the confidence in your ability to perform, if it’s a specific move, realize that you CAN do it or if it’s a specific opponent realize you CAN out perform them….Believe in YOURSELF!
If you’re a blue belt rolling a black belt, have the confidence in yourself that you’re gonna give him hell! It’s not disrespectful to roll a more advanced belt to the best of your ability, on the contrary it’s RESPECTFUL. You’re displaying that you are a noble training partner for such a competitor.
So when an upper belt asks you to roll, be confident in your abilities, not fearful of his.