I was recently reading Dolph’s, one of our purple belt BJJ students, blog about racking up gym wins. It is a subject that I have spoken about to many of the people in this gym about. Basically there are a group of novice martial artists that believe there is a way to “win” or “lose” to someone in the gym. The reality is that for the most part there is no winning or losing in training.
The purpose of training is solely to become better. It is not to “win” or “beat” anyone in the gym. Competition is really the only place where beating someone actually means something.
In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu we roll every day. It is very easy to start measuring skill by gym wins. How many times have you heard one of these statements?
- “Today was great; I didn’t tap one time”
- “Today was great; I tapped that _____ guy”
The reality is that in the gym you need to be working on the holes in your game. If you have a great kimura from closed guard and you only work kimura from closed guard you are not going to get better at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It is by working in places that are uncomfortable that you will become better at BJJ not by just working on your strengths. It is better to get tapped every class for a month while learning how to work from open guard then to refuse to open your guard but also never get tapped. On the path to becoming good at BJJ you will get tapped thousands of times.
When I first met Jeff Boudreaux in 2007 he was a wrestler. He could beat many guys just by being a better athlete than them and by wrestling them. He genuinely wanted to become good at BJJ so even though he could “beat” a guy if he wrestled the guy to mount he would “lose” regularly because he would work from his back. Now Jeff can fight from many more positions in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and we awarded him his purple belt as a result. If he had only worked his strengths he might still be a blue belt or maybe even a white belt.
I remember in fight team training a several years ago I would spar with Randy Pogue. I did not know him that well in those days but I was aware he had some World Titles in Kickboxing. We would spar and on many occasions I would get the better of him. I just assumed he was bringing his “A-game” and that I was doing just splendid. One day we were chatting and I told him that in team training I always brought by “A -game” but when I sparred with the novice guys I would pick techniques and work them because I was less worried about the harm they were capable of dishing out. Randy told me that I should try and use team training to test new techniques because the more experienced guys would better help me understand if what I was doing would actually work in competition. It was at this point I started realizing that maybe I wasn’t doing so splendidly in team training when I was sparring with him.
It has been years since those days and I am more than aware that if Randy had been sparring me like it was a real fight versus just working on different strategies and techniques he would have dropped me at will with a flurry of body shots like he did when he was helping me get ready for my last fight. So gauging my performance on how well I was doing with him was pointless. He wasn’t even trying to beat me.
If you really want to become good at martial arts you have lose your ego and work on the holes in your game. If you need validation for how you are doing then compete or ask the instructor.