I dread Thursday afternoons because on those days, after normal open mat training, I do positional training (for 20 minutes to an hour) with a guy who’s pretty good at this jiu jitsu thing. Lets call him “Bob”. He passes my guard and submits me at will. Alright so we are all part of the food chain, that’s all fine on a philosophical level, but let’s be real here: acknowledging your place in the food chain is not an easy experience. If you spend every day hunting rabbits, and all of a sudden a T-Rex pillages your peaceful abode, the whole hunting rabbits experience seems a little less gloriously epic.
Anyway, positional training with someone who is higher level than you is a lot different than regular training with them. Basically, instead of getting your guard passed 2-3 times in 5 minutes, you get to experience it 15-20 times. For me, as for many people, this a profound experience… It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet of humble pie.
During regular training with non-Bobs when I’m going 70-100% I don’t usually get swept, passed, or submitted easily. I’ll catch them, they catch me, it’ll be a good battle every time. I’m humbled by the many techniques of mine that failed, and feel good about the many that worked. It’s a good mental work out and a better physical workout.
But when I train with so-called Bob, it’s like a mental raping, plundering, and pillaging. For example today I was working on my butterfly guard. In about 20 minutes it was passed probably about 30 times if not more. Mostly the same way over and over. Not much force, but very deliberate. That’s what I call an “all you can eat buffet of humble pie”. How do I deal with this mentally? What does it say about my butterfly guard? What does it say about me? These are the questions that you don’t ask yourself after a regular workout.
I’m actually deeply appreciative of the fact that Bob didn’t let up. He kept passing over and over as if I had a chance every time, and I really believed I had a chance. Every week I go back to the drawing board: watch videos, drill, put myself in that same position with non-Bobs and return Thursday afternoon with a renewed confidence that THIS time I will give Bob a challenging puzzle that he will not be able to easily solve with his trickery.
Anyway, I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by people like this. I do believe that we are all just a few details away from being experts of any one technique in jiu jitsu. It may take years to figure out and internalize those details, but if you keep on a steady diet of humble pie, the process might go just a little faster and a little easier (in the long term).