It has been four years since I have received my black belt in Jiu-Jitsu. There are many things I have learned since then that has helped me develop my game to another level. When you become a black belt, a big target gets painted on your back. Everyone wants to submit a black belt. It forces you to dig even deeper into learning and training Jiu-Jitsu to survive this storm.
Jiu Jitsu Evolution
Getting the black belt is not the end of the road. If anything, it commits you more to Jiu-Jitsu and its lifestyle. Once you receive the belt, and have it for awhile, you realize it’s just an object that signifies the work that you have put in. You also realize that it is your duty to evolve with Martial Arts as they evolve with the times. New techniques, philosophies, and positions change in BJJ and Martial Arts all the time. The basics will always be effective. But, at the highest level, you must evolve with the trend or be ahead of it.
Getting by on the same old tricks will leave you in the past. I changed schools after receiving my black belt; knowing that in order to grow, I would have to find new and different challenges. As soon as you start to get comfortable, you need to mix up your training. A seminar, a private lesson, an open mat at another school, or in my case changing schools completely, was the answer. The hardest thing to do is be the big fish in a small pond and go to a big pond to be the small fish. But, I felt if I wanted to be a legitimate black belt I needed to do just that. Watching competitions and fighting has also helped me keep evolving. Studying the top BJJ and MMA athletes is important to do. From past and present.
Going Back To The Basics
One thing you will hear upper belts and black belts talk about is the basics. When you get to higher levels, you start to understand why basics are so important. The competition gets so close at a high level that various advanced techniques get neutralized. The basics and fundamentals are more effective in such scenarios. In wrestling, the most successful take-down in the Olympics is the double leg. Which, of course is the most basic take-down in wrestling. Jiu-Jitsu is no different, if you watch Roger Gracie you will see him use very basic and effective BJJ at a very high level. As I’ve continued to train, I find myself start to focus on the basics and fundamentals even more.
I have also learned to re-learn. Re-learning techniques, submissions, and mindsets. Re-learning can mean several things:
That I learned something, totally forgot about it, and remembered or relearned.
I learned something but I revisit the technique, submission, and or mindset to discover new details.
I learned something the wrong way or created bad habits and now I have to fix them.
We have to assess our game on a regular basis. I don't believe obsessing about re-learning is helpful, but periodically checking things is super important. It is better to have these problems solved before you compete or have to use it on the street. Learning a lesson on the mat is tough but usually the most beneficial. The more painful the lesson is the more likely you are to never let that mistake happen again.
Becoming a black belt was on the very top of my list of goals when I started BJJ. Since then, my goals have changed and evolved. I now challenge myself to become the best instructor, coach, and leader that I can be. Jiu-jitsu is a lifestyle for me now. Not just something to excel at. I feel once you commit to a Jiu-jitsu lifestyle or Martial Artist lifestyle; your skill, teaching, and learning skyrocket. Total immersion is the best option for you to get good at anything and that of course includes Martial Arts and BJJ.