A couple of months ago I decided that I needed to work on my guard passing, because it sucked. Actually, I think most of my BJJ sucks, but I can’t focus on everything at once, so I concentrated on passing guard for awhile.
I used to start my free-rolls in the advanced class by pulling guard (or at least trying to), but when I decided to work on passing, I began purposefully putting myself in everyone’s guards at the beginning, and then trying to pass. I became better at not getting swept or submitted (or at least not as quickly), but for the most part it felt like I wasn’t making any improvements in passing. It seemed like no matter how hard I tried, I was still rarely able to pass, so it felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere.
Then one day I went to the beginner class instead of the advanced, and we did up, down, and out king of the mat starting from closed guard. When I was on the passing side, I went up against about six different guys, and to my surprise, I easily passed almost all of their guards (everyone except Jorge!).
Even though it didn’t seem like intentionally putting myself in harm’s way during the advanced class was doing any good, it actually was. Sometimes in order to improve something, you need to go where you don’t want to, and spend a lot of time failing. Perhaps that’s easier for me to do than the average person, especially in the advanced class, because no matter what I do, most of the time I know I’m going to lose anyway, so I may as well take chances. While it’s still only once in a blue moon that I’m able to pass a blue belt’s guard, I’m getting closer every day, and that wouldn’t be the case if I hadn’t decided to step out of my comfort zone. I could’ve just kept pulling guard for all of eternity (I’m even kind of good at it!), but that wouldn’t have helped me grow.