Well, it’s the last day of 2010 and I’m sitting here thinking about the past year and all the “highs and lows” that I’ve encountered.
And as I reflect back on the year, I can’t help but to put things into three buckets: the good, the bad and the ugly.
The “good” bucket consists of all my successes for the year. The things that I tried and everything turned out in my favor. I guess it should go without saying this is my favorite bucket and the one that made me a happy wise grappler.
The “bad” bucket consisted of all the things I took a chance on and didn’t work out in my favor. Although I would’ve wished for a happier ending for the items in this bucket, I gained a lot of wisdom and experience that I’ll carry over into 2011.
Finally, the “ugly” bucket consists of the missed opportunities that came my way because I either procrastinated or chose to do something that added little or no value to me (e.g. making a decision to play “Madden 10” instead of writing an e-newsletter article). I always knew those things probably took away more value than they added, in spite of the lame excuses I created to justify doing it.
However, with 2010 hours away from being a memory, I can say the benefits from the “good” and “bad” buckets made me a better person in the long run.
As for the “ugly” bucket, I’ll talk about how I’m going to deal with them in the next article.
So, have fun celebrating the New Year and best wishes for 2011! 🙂
After a good workout in “The Lab” last week, a few OGs were looking
through their training notes and talking about all the things they
learned over the past year.
That’s a good thing.
But when I asked two simple questions, they had no clue about what
I’d just asked them.
And that was a bad thing.
I simply asked them if they…
1. Achieved the training goals they set out to accomplish for 2010?
2. If they hadn’t, what was their plan to achieve those goals
before the year was over?
And since they “just didn’t get it”, I had to explain the point I
was trying to make.
The first question focused on the fact that most people have a
basic understanding of setting goals. But since very few grapplers
talk about creating a plan to track goal progression, most goals
never make it beyond the sheet of paper they’re written on and go
unaccomplished. That’s the reason why they had goals at the end of
the year they didn’t get around to achieving,prepared to just
“roll them over” into 2011.
The second question focused on the idea of maximizing the last days
of the year to achieve outstanding goals instead of just “waiting
until next year” to achieve them. You can wait until next year to
do whatever you promised to do this year, but those last days you
let get away “this year” will be lost forever, regardless of that
foolish idea that you can just “work harder” to make it up later.
Once I explained it that way, they spent less time focusing on the
goals they achieved and more time on the work left to be done
before the year ended.
How about you? Have you reviewed your training goals and
discovered that you still have some work left to be done before
2010 is history?
If you live in the U.S., then you’re celebrating Thanksgiving with
family members and friend that you care most about… or at least
can put up with for a few days! 🙂
Seriously, I wanted to send you a quick note to say from my
family to yours… HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
I’m thankful for your support and friendship. I also hope we’ll
get to share with each other in the future because of our love
for BJJ and the grappling arts.
Enjoy your day!
Dedicated to improving your mat experience!
Paul Greenhill (aka The Wise Grappler)
The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.
Paul, I’m a 36 year old OG. I started BJJ back in 2003 and quit a
few times. Well now I want to try again but I keep backing out. I’ve
even driven out to the gym only to turn around and go home. I
suppose I’m worried about looking out of shape and getting hurt. I
think I’ve forgotten all my techniques too. What should I do?
TWG: This problem isn’t as tough as you think and happens quite
First, you should do is recognize the fact that deep down inside,
you REALLY want to train at BJJ, maybe even become a black belt
someday. The reason I point that out is to show you that you’re
NOT as big a quitter as you feel. If you were a “true quitter”,
you wouldn’t still be thinking about going back to the mat or going
as far as driving down to the school, in spite of the fact that you
never stop and go inside the school.
Second, 90 percent of this struggle comes from your poor mental
mindset about who you are or what you think you should be. It
doesn’t matter that you’re out-of-shape because most of the people
that start training are out-of-shape in the beginning, me included.
You just have to get back in there and let the training get you in
shape. And as far as forgetting the techniques that you learned
back in the day, no one will know that unless you want to go in and
start telling people that you’ve been training since 2003. If you
go into the school like you’re a brand new student that’s never
taken a BJJ class before, then there’s no pressure to remember
anything you learned back in the day and you can learn like every
other newbie taking BJJ for the first time.
Finally, as for worrying about getting hurt, you should know since
you’ve been training that bumps and bruises come along with the BJJ
Training. If you’re really concerned about it, use that concern to
help guide you to the right school to train. You don’t need to be
at a school with a bunch of up-and-coming MMAers where the risk of
being used as a grappling bag with feet is likely. Check around
and (if possible) find a school that’s being run by an OG
Instructor (see my website for a list of schools). If there aren’t
any schools run by an OG in your area, pay attention to the school
that seems to have a good number of OGs in their classes and talk
with a few of them. That should ease your concern about being hurt
because you’re an OG.
Bottom line: Do your homework to find the right school for you,
stop thinking about all the bad things that can happen (since most
of it is in your head), and get back on the mat so you can pursue
your dream of being a BJJ Black Belt.
And make sure to let me know once you’ve joined the school and how
the training is going once you’re back on the mat.
I hope this helps and good luck.
A few days ago, I was cleaning up my office and stumbled across
some pictures that I hadn’t seen in a while. They were pics of me
training back in the day as a white belt and the early days at
And once I started looking at those pics, I couldn’t help but
notice all those guys that I trained with back then that kinda got
lost along the way on my grappling journey. Guys that I thought
were more likely to reach black belt than me.
Unfortunately, 90 percent of those guys never even made it to blue
The thing that made me shake my head in disappointment was the fact
that many of those guys were either REALLY good or had great
And as I looked through those pictures, I saw guys that were
bigger, stronger, meaner, more technically proficient, and way more
mentally tougher than I ever could be.
But for some unknown reason, they just got off the road to black
And as I put those pictures back in the box, I thought about how we
never really talked about becoming black belts back in the day.
Most of us thought it was such a far away goal to reach that we
just trained hard and ignored it.
But now I’m starting to wonder since we never talked about or
thought of ourselves as future black belts if that contributed to
many of those guys (and gals) falling off along the grappling
journey. Maybe just training for the sake of training, without an
end goal in mind, made it easier for many of them to lose interest
What about your training? Are you training with and end goal in
mind (e.g. belt rank, coaching certification, etc.) or just
training because it’s fun and gets you out of the hose a few nights
Think about that question before you answer it. It may make the
difference as to whether you’ll still be on the mat five years from
now or talking about what you could have been had you stuck with it.
A few weeks ago, a grappler sent me an email where he talked about his frustration on the mat.
The grappler (who I’ll call Grappler X) has been training for about a year, experienced what I call “mat lows” and wanted to know if anyone else had these problems.
I assured him that he wasn’t the only BJJer experiencing these
issues and figured I’d write a list of “10 Common Mat Lows” that
every grappler experiences at some point during their grappling
I’m going to break these 10 Mat Lows down into parts so I can discuss each one in detail:
1. Progressing fast in beginning, then slowing down – when you first start training, EVERY grappler experiences that feeling of picking up things quickly because everything’s new. And when everything’s new, you’re going from someone who knows nothing to being proficient. Once you start becoming familiar with the techniques, the proficiency is still happening, it’s just not as noticeable like when you were new to the mat.
2. Unable to submit anyone during sparring – once grapplers start sparring, it’s usually difficult to submit or apply clean technique against an opponent because you’re spending too much time “thinking” about what to do instead of “reacting” to the situation at hand. The ability to “move without thinking” will only come with time, hard work and patience, NOT any sooner than that.
3. Watching classmates improve faster than you – this is something that grapplers deal with at every level, whether it’s based on friendly competition between teammates or just hating on someone that’s better than you. And since everyone learns and progresses at different paces, it’s only natural to look at the guy/gal next to you and wonder why it seems easy for them and hard for you.
In Part Two, I’ll talk about “Mat Lows” 4-7 dealing with overtraining, mat burnout, and injury.