There are no shortcuts to excellence in Jiu-Jitsu. This journey is a marathon, not a sprint. But there are steps you can take right now that can change everything about your training. Here are a few of the most important things you can do to improve your performance in Jiu-Jitsu.
1) Attend at least 2-3 classes a week.
Sporadically attending classes is the quickest way to stop learning. It usually starts with a night or two of "being tired." Before long, you have missed enough classes to feel out of shape and anxious about getting back on the mats. Plan out your schedule in advance. Work out the details with your family members and/or other important people in your life. Then stick to it. It won't take long before you will have established a strong routine that you will stick to even on the worst day. If you must miss a class, attend a makeup class as soon as possible. Never allow yourself to get used to simply missing a class.
2) Take advantage of every moment you have on the mats.
As your skills improve, it can be easy to get a little lazy on the mats. This is why most students experience their first major plateau after they receive their blue belt. Don't let this happen! Do your best during the warmup(s). Focus during instruction, and get in every repetition during partner practice. Be the first to grab a partner, and the last to stop drilling. Make every second count.
3) Roll to learn, not to win.
During open mats, roll with as many different opponents as you can. Try to learn from each one. Roll calmly and experiment as much as possible. Instead of stopping your opponent's moves, allow them to try all of their best techniques. Learn to counter their moves by playing along. Allow yourself to be put in the worst positions. Work on defending and escaping first. Focus on being skilled from the bottom positions. You can win now and learn later; or you can learn now and win for the rest of your life. It's up to you.
4) Stop making comparisons.
Some of your teammates have spent decades learning the art of Jiu-Jitsu, but every one of them remembers their first day on the mats. Comparing yourself to them will take all the joy out of your training. You want to make steady, permanent progress. Every minute you spend on the mats is a step further in that direction. Compare yourself to what you could do yesterday. Remember, your opponent is your friend. Your ego is your enemy.
5) Stop looking for shortcuts.
Most of us have had a time when we thought we were taking a shortcut to a destination, only to find out that the path we took was much longer and more difficult than the one we were already on. Sometimes we may have even had to double back, and start over right where we left off. Even worse, we could become completely lost. Trust your teammates and your instructors. They know the most direct path to excellence and are there to help you find it. Each time you take a detour, it only slows your progress.
The path to excellence in Jiu-Jitsu is quite simple. It takes time, consistency, and effort - but it is worth every step. If you train the right way, you will not only improve your Jiu-Jitsu, but you will enjoy the journey and become a better person. Don't wait. Start today!