Getting Better at Jiu-jitsu when you Feel Directionless

It’s alright to feel lost. It’s especially alright to feel lost when it comes to learning, training and living Jiu-jitsu. Not all jiu-jitsu practitioners have the luxury of having their mentors in constant reach. And there are times, even when our mentors are constantly present, we still feel like we’ve hit a point where there isn’t a clear path to the next step. I’ve felt like this many times. I’m one of those practitioners who, for the last 5 years, hasn’t had the benefit of having a Professor nearby. I’ve had to teach myself many things and that can be a terrifying experience when you don’t know what you’re doing. So how do we get direction?

I remember a long time ago, I was exposed to a YouTube video by Neil Gaiman. NG gave a commencement speech at a university on “Making Good Art”. I’m sure I have written about it somewhere in the annals of my site. I bring it up because NG talks about the problems of success and how, successful people are often unsure of how to act or carry themselves or how to take their success to the next level. He recommends “acting” like someone who is successful. What would a successful person do in your shoes? The goal is that by pretending you are someone successful, you will make better decisions that lead to more success. Of course, I am paraphrasing this sentiment but the concept rings true.

Pretending You are Someone You’re Not

I get a lot of inspiration watching high level grappling matches sometimes. Sometimes, a competitor catches my eye and I see something astounding and then I try to imitate it. Over the last few months, after Renato Canuto’s performance at Kasai Grappling, I decided to get a little more exploratory and try out some new techniques. In many respects, I’ve tried to pretend I was him, sans backflips lest I break my back. The result has been incredible in terms of what I’m learning and where my jiu-jitsu is headed.

Pretend You are Someone You’re Not

Next time you feel like you’re in a slump, watch some matches. Find someone who inspires you and pretend you are them on the mats. Try to move like they do and execute as they do. It may work, it may not, but at least you will have a lot of fun doing it.

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