I think one of the best pieces of advice I ever got about training Jiu-Jitsu was when Conan told me to just remember that I was doing it for myself. Not in a selfish way (I actually get most of my greatest joy in BJJ from helping others!), but so that I don’t worry too much about fulfilling what I perceive are other people’s expectations.
For me, martial arts has always been primarily about self-improvement, and not just as it pertains specifically to my training, but also life in general. My progress in Jiu-Jitsu can seem discouraging when I look at it from a strictly technical standpoint, because I don’t always feel as though I’m as far along as I should be, but when I focus on all of the personal challenges I’ve had to overcome to get where I am today, my success seems greater, and it’s vastly more important to me than what color my belt is, or how many stripes are on it.
I didn’t start training Jiu-Jitsu at forty years old in hopes of someday being the queen of the mat, and I’ve already gotten father than I actually thought I would. When I first started, I wasn’t sure if I would last six months, let alone six years, so that fact that I’m even still doing it is a success in my book. In the beginning, all I really wanted was to not feel totally panicked when I was on the ground, and now grappling has become as natural to me as breathing! Rolling used to scare the crap out of me, and now I would rather roll with a stranger than talk to them, which shows how far I’ve come. The fact that I can even hang with the beasts in the advanced class at LBJJC far exceeds any of my own initial expectations.
I can try my best to not compare myself to anyone else, but that doesn’t stop others from doing it, and I can be as non-competitive as I want, but it doesn’t stop people from competing with me, so remembering that I’m doing it to improve myself makes it easier, because whether I win or lose, I’m still learning. No one except me really knows how much I’ve grown, and this is my journey, so I’m the only one who should be judging it.