This post is what my entire blog has revolved around. You must become your own coach, and not rely on your instructor to micromanage your journey for you. I’m not saying this because I doubt your instructor’s abilities but because that is the natural progression of Jiu Jitsu improvement.
When you are brand new every day your Jiu Jitsu Journey has natural direction. Simply come to class, and learn more and you will be exponentially better than the day before.
Once you have options from most positions though, the burden falls on you to take charge of your own journey. I will outline what areas to focus on as you become the director of your own journey. Is it time to take ownership of your progress?
Stage 1 In The Journey To Be Your Own Coach
In the first stage of the journey you CAN’T be your own coach. During the second stage you MUST be your own coach. The problem is, no one tells you when you’ve gone from the first to the second.
Every new white belt starts off in Stage 1, and somewhere before purple belt the switch to Stage 2 happens. So what should someone in the beginner stage focus on?
The new student knows almost nothing. Just show up to 2 – 4 classes per week and learn. Consistency of attendance is the most important component of this stage as you build a bigger base of knowledge. This is where you are building the infrastructure you’ll need later.
Remember What You Learn
Take notes to help deepen your understanding, and improve retention. The quicker you build a solid base, the faster you can advance to the next stage in your journey.
Rack Up Live Repetitions
Once you know a few things, you should start to drill them to build deeper knowledge.
Make sure that you aren’t making the giant mistake I made at white belt of focusing on improving all of my Jiu Jitsu at once, when rolling. Instead optimize small bite sized chunks of techniques.
Know Enough To Know What You Don’t Know
Once you’ve built a foundation of knowledge, you’ll start to see diminishing results. Learning another move won’t seem to make as big of a difference in the grand scheme of things.
How the moves fit together, how you develop your style, and how you approach training start to become the defining factors in improvement. You are advancing to Stage 2.
I see most students plateau at the end of Stage 1 because they don’t recognize that it is time to make the shift and direct their own future.
Stage 2 In The Journey To Be My Own Coach
Once I know a few moves and have a basic understanding of BJJ it is time to start taking control of my own Individual BJJ Journey
I have to determine what my goals are and how to meet them. My coach has too many students to micromanage everyone’s journeys. It is imperative I follow the concepts of extreme ownership and be responsible for my own growth.
I use my coach as a resource to help grow. If I am only waiting on him to guide me, I’m not maximizing one of the most important tools in Jiu Jitsu – TIME.
The entire blog bjjSelfHelp.com is founded on the concept of directing your own journey.”
When and how am I going to train?
Figure out the optimum time management to balance my life and training goals. While on the mat, am I just trying to let off steam or preparing for PAN’s?
Don’t expect your instructor to hold your hand through this process, especially if you don’t communicate your plans. If you let him know your goals, he will be a great resource to help give you advice on how to achieve those goals though!
How often to compete?
Am I looking to compete once per belt? 8 times per year? Look ahead and plan what I want to accomplish.
Where do I stand right now and where do I want to be?
In my journey am I primarily a Hobbyist, a Competitor or a Hybrid of the two. Is teaching and helping others on their path the most important? Depending where I fit on this scale and where I want to be I will have to make different choices.
Developing my own style
Piece together the movements that work best for me and my personality. Express myself on the mats in my own individual way.
What am I working on? (SWOT Analysis)
- Strengths- What’s working well for me? What techniques or styles are dominant for me? Focus on executing my strengths.
- Weakness – What to avoid? What positions are liabilities? How much can I do to minimize my exposure to weaknesses?
- Opportunities – Where do strengths offer overpowered results? Are there certain body types or areas of my game that are especially beneficial to me? Do I find myself able to stretch out shorter, stockier opponents to find leverage?
- Threats – Where am I vulnerable? What are the natural counters to my style? Do I find shorter, stockier opponents able to stay tight and bypass my defenses?
How am I feeling about my training?
How am I doing? Am I feeling motivated and on a roll? Am I starting to feel frustrated or am I in danger of quitting BJJ altogether? I must share these concerns with my own coach to make sure he can give me the resources I need.
All of this planning and taking charge of your journey comes with a certain amount of stress and responsibility. Keep in mind why you are training. Remember to make sure you are having fun in your BJJ training.
I’ll leave you with a poem.
Be the master of your fate, the captain of your soul… Good luck!
by William Ernest Henley
Out of the night that covers me,Black as the pit from pole to pole,I thank whatever gods may beFor my unconquerable soul.In the fell clutch of circumstanceI have not winced nor cried aloud.Under the bludgeonings of chanceMy head is bloody, but unbowed.Beyond this place of wrath and tearsLooms but the Horror of the shade,And yet the menace of the yearsFinds and shall find me unafraid.It matters not how strait the gate,How charged with punishments the scroll,I am the master of my fate,I am the captain of my soul. “