Wednesday, 21 November 2012

On the Mat Day 319: Frustrations

Recently I've only been able to train about twice a week. I feel this is like treading water and I am not advancing at the pace I want to. Ideally I need to go 3 times a week to improve. In the past this has been ideal. I can only imagine that 4 times per week would be amazing. With a full time job and 3 kids it is hard to train as much as I'd like. It's a downward spiral of my desire to get better but life's necessities not allowing me to pursue a course I want. It sometimes makes me bitter about it all. I workout at 6 am most mornings because this is the only time I can get some free time. This has helped me somewhat to stay abreast of other guys at my club and win a competition, but I know deep down that I need to train BJJ more. I am more frustrated with my inability to learn and successfully perform new technique shown in class and not being able to force my game on my opponent. I don't really care if the guys at my club are improving more than me. I know it is best to compare myself instead of comparing my ability to others in my club. During the first year of BJJ I really improved a lot but things seem to have slowed down and I find myself doing the same  techniques only to be shut down because my teammates know my game now. I wonder if this is normal.

I've been training for 3 years (this year I've trained more than ever before) and I suppose that I expected to be much better than I am now. I don't know if my expectations are too high because I know I do beat myself up about many things if I fail. I'm fairly hard on myself. I wish there was some test of how well you improve in BJJ. Something like a number in kgs for bench press lifters, or a time in seconds for 100 m runners. But there isn't. As you improve, so do your teammates - and at different rates. I've not caught anyone up at my club who used to destroy me - they still destroy me. Although there are guys who come back after a long hiatus and I do well against them. However, there are also guys who are coming up in the ranks who are starting to give me a hard time. I can only assume this is because I need to train more and age is a factor because many in the club are younger than me.

As well as training frequency, I cannot help wonder if there is a better more efficient way to train. Our class is comprised of BJJ type movement warmup->armbar and triangle drills from guard->several techniques demonstrated and approx. 4 times drill each->Sparring for over 1 hour.
This method does not seem to be working for me. I feel like I need to drill specific movements for many repititions before my muscle memory is established. I do reps after class with whoever I can but even then my time is limited. I also use my 8 years old son to practice stuff at home but he is still too small. The one things that my brain constantly keeps moving back to is that BJJ is extremely complicated - yes. But there must be a more efficient method of training that even training twice a week, you should see an improvement.

Sparring time= 6 mins x 5 = 30 mins


  1. Hi John. Great blog and post. I can definitely relate to you as an older (43) blue belt training 2-3 times a week (with similar family/job commitments). Believe me, I know the feeling of once being able to handle guys who now destroy me on a regular basis. In a strange way I look at this as I've had some small part in helping them get better, just as they (and others) are helping me get better. Although it may not feel like it, your consistency in training, drilling and attending class IS leading to constant improvement (no matter how small). When I get down on myself, I think of what my instructor says..."Just train." Everything else will take care of itself.

  2. Good words Phil. I like your positive attitude and how you are happy to see the guys you train with getting better. I am in the same boat and see my the guys at my club as a surrogate family now. Just there are times when you get really bad, crappy days and hence, this post. Luckily there are also good days. I'll keep training for sure.