Ego is the Enemy of Progress

Jiu Jitsu is hard. This is what our instructor told us during belt promotion last night. It’s why we train so often. As he stated, “the hardest part of my day is training, after training everything else is easy”.  That’s the truth.  On days that I have class I will typically try to get to bed early the night before, consume the right amount of calories, at the correct times, take the right supplements, and generally psyche myself up before class to prepare for the grueling workout. And ego makes all of this harder.

I generally think of myself as someone who doesn’t let his ego get in the way of things. But I had a revelation this past week… I was getting more stressed about class than I needed to be, simply because I was concerned about losing matches to lower belts.

I didn’t think I was that concerned with losing. That’s how you progress, you try things, you fail, you sharpen your skills, you move forward. But as I went from white belt to blue belt, and then started getting stripes on my blue belt, I realized that I started worrying about going with the bigger, stronger white belts. I think most practitioners of jiu jitsu think that once you achieve a rank, that you should be able to handle lower ranks with ease. I don’t know that this is necessarily the case. Lower belts can still be bigger, stronger, come with a wrestling background, have better days than you, and probably even be close to getting their next rank. All of these attributes can lead to tough challenges with training partners of all ranks.

When I realized all of this, about myself and about my training partners, it helped me to relax, and to not worry about whether I had to tap or not in any given roll. Now I go into class, and work on the parts of my game that need the most work, rather than rolling to defend my belt/ego. My training is a lot more fun this way, and I feel like I’m able to work through my rough spots a lot quicker than when I played a very reserved game out of fear of losing. I had wrapped my ego in with my rank, and letting that go has allowed me to develop my skills quicker and with more enjoyment.

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