For the longest time in Jiu-Jitsu I felt like I was on an endless plateau, and no matter how hard I tried I just didn’t really seem to be getting anywhere, and then suddenly things starting clicking. Lately while grappling with my husband (after about five months of not rolling with him) he’s noticed that I didn’t just improve a little bit, I improved a lot. He said “You weren’t plateauing, you were building up pressure, and when you came off of it, you exploded!”.
I think part of the reason I finally started moving forward may have to do with my injury, and being forced to take time off from class. During that period I really studied Jiu-Jitsu, and I tried to gain a deeper understanding of the big picture. I was able to step back and see how some of my own tendencies worked against me, and I spent time figuring out what I wanted my own game to be, so that when I came back I had a clearer sense of purpose when rolling.
Another aspect that I’ve mentioned lately is relaxation, and I’ve been trying to free my mind when I grapple. This has been allowing me to see more possibilities, and not be so caught up in linear thought patterns. Before, I would be thinking like this:
Okay, I have Joe in guard, what can I do from here? How about a triangle? Maybe I should sweep him? Oh no, he just passed my guard! Okay, now he has me in side control, how should I get out of it? (thrash, thrash, thrash). Oh crap, now he has me a kimura! What should I do? (tap tap tap).
Now, it’s more like this:
(tap, tap, tap)
Holy cow, I just submitted Joe with a straight armbar that started out as a kimura from guard! How did that happen?!
Holy moley, I just tapped Joe out with a north-south choke that started from top side control that I got after sweeping him! What the what?!
However, I think all of the time that I spent plateauing is really what led to my current success. Even though it didn’t seem like it at the time, I was learning things, and those are the very things which I am now successfully applying. Without the mat time I put in, no amount of studying, or relaxation, would have enabled me to progress. You have to keep putting in the work, even when it doesn’t seem like it’s working.
I know that my current state of Jiu-Jitsu awesomeness is not going to last long (and I already find it almost completely useless against purple belts and above ;). I know that I will end up on another plateau, and that I will once again start feeling like I suck. So, I’m going to ride this explosion as hard as I can, and when I crash, I will just keep building up pressure until the next one.