Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Mixed Martial Arts
Training in Nanaimo

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We used to have a student at ITT, way back, who didn't show up to class very often, and when he did, he wouldn't want to drill very much, he would roll super hard, didn't like to tap, and even argued with the instructor when he made corrections. After a class where he, of course, got blitzed by everyone in the room during rolling, he asked our head instructor what he needed to work on. "Attendance" was the reply, to which he responded "I can't afford a membership right now, what should I be focusing on when I roll?". Keep in mind this was a guy who was fine attending class once a week, which carries a drop-in fee of $25, but didn't want to pony up $119/month for a membership, so obviously skipping a few trips to Starbucks was asking too much in his neverending quest for Jiu-Jitsu perfection. When the next suggestion was that he modify his rolling style, he blanched at that as well. So basically, he wanted to know if there was something he could think about during rolling, without training very often, or even slightly altering his balls to the wall rolling style, that would somehow make him not terrible at BJJ... which, as you can imagine, is literally physically impossible for this person and anyone like him. Mind, you, it wasn't entirely his fault, it's almost like he grew up in a world where people buy into nonsense like "The Secret", and every movie showed him that if you just want something bad enough, if you're the hero, you'll get it, and who out there doesn't believe they are the hero of their life story? Desire has been decoupled from effort in many people's minds when it comes to attaining something in life, whether it's a material item, or a skill, to the point where some folks seem to have no idea what the process of becoming good at something even looks like anymore.

Here is another example. Occasionally, we have wannabe MMA fighters come to us for training. If you think that's harsh, make no mistake, occasionally, and wannabe, are the precise words for this scenario, because actual pro MMA fighters will find the best coaching they can for their ground game, and train it all the time, but not these guys. These guys will come in a few times during camp for a fight to 'sharpen up their ground game', except of course they don't sharpen anything, because their ground game was about as sharp as a bag of wet hair to begin with, so they get whomped by our white belts, and then never show up again. This happens because "well, I'm more of a standup fighter anyway" is an easier thought to stomach than "I need to entirely rebuild my grappling skill set", and "I'll just work on my sprawl" becomes their nonsense Law of Attraction mantra. Spoiler alert, these guys don't get good at sprawling either, because it takes a lot more to develop takedown defense than throwing a few half assed sprawls into your shadowboxing routine twice a week. And here's one more pro tip, those same guys aren't "more of a standup fighter" either, they're pretty terrible at striking too, they just train with people who are unlikely to force that realization on them. If they were to walk into a high level kickboxing gym, they would get lit up the same way they do when they step on our mats. Georges St. Pierre trained with standup fighters who could kick the crap out of him, he trained with Olympic wrestlers who could drop him on his head, and for his BJJ, he got worked over by Braulio Estima and Roger Gracie, and he savored every supposed defeat they handed him in training, because he knows what it means to become good at something. Georges has a wonderful quote in his autobiography where he says "the days you don't feel like showing up are the days where you improve the most", and of course, this isn't meant literally, because when you are a bit tired, a bit mentally drained, a bit distracted, unmotivated, and all the other factors that contribute to not showing up, you don't necessarily make massive gains in proficiency, but being the sort of person who shows up despite a lack of bubbling desire is what, in the aggregate, adds up to so much more mat time that after a year you will have made insurmaountable improvements compared to your counterparts who allowed their whims and moods to take the place of a commitment to excellence.

"What do I need to work on?" is actually not a question you hear very often from people who are good at something, or even in the process of becoming good at something, because they know the answer more often than not is for them to just show up. If you're showing up, you know what you need to improve on, partially because you don't care about winning in training and are just working on developing your skills, and partially because your instructor will see your desire for excellence, and offer you advice on how to focus your training before you need to ask. So before you ask this question, ask yourself if you harbor not just a desire to be good at something, but a desire to do the work necessary to be good at something, and a desire to go through the frustration necessary to be good at something.

And yes, frustration is a necessary ingredient. Not frustration in the negative sense of getting angry at failure, but frustration in the sense of attempting to do something and having success denied to you by an obstacle. This is the part that some people miss on the quest to become good at something. Some people are fine with putting in the work, they show up, get in shape, and never get very good at jiu-jitsu because the place they train at offers substandard instruction. We occasionally see grapplers here on the island who love jiu-jitsu, they've been training steadily for half a decade or longer, putting in plenty of work, but their skills are rudimentary at best. Mind you, they tend to be the best, or one of the best guys at their club, and so their opportunity for frustration is minimal. They can get away with all kinds of crap technique because by and large, they are rolling with rubes. They might even have a game that succeeds at low level competitions, but have giant gaps in their skill sets that their instructors and training partners can't correct, and yet they stay the course, when clearly superior training options are available, because they are unwilling to admit to themselves that part of getting truly good at something means going outside of your comfort zone, reaching beyond the habit of mediocrity and misplaced loyalty. To get truly good at something requires not just work, but failure, not just commitment, but exploration of new territory and the willingness to abandon the comfort of minor achievements.

Do you want to be good at something? Try walking through these doors and see if you understand the true definition of the word want:

Let No One Ignorant of Geometry Enter