In a This Week in BJJ show, Kevin Howell said something that resonated with me. He was talking about rolling at the academy versus competing, and that some guys who are killers in the academy do not do well in competition, and vice versa. Kevin said that he’s seen world champions rolling at their school and couldn’t believe it because they weren’t always “winning” their sets.
This resonated with me because of my own struggles with ego, and of what I imagine many people go through. The experience is of “losing” on the mat when working on anything outside your comfort zone. Of course, as everyone says, there is no “losing” or “winning” on the mat in the academy. But that’s a mindset, and such a mindset takes a lot of time to develop. It’s certainly not natural, and doesn’t come easy.
I imagine that keeping the ego in check gets harder and harder as you move up the ranks. I imagine how hard it must be for brown and black belts to work on a new technique, which may result in them getting smashed by aggressive lower ranks in training.
But it certainly does seem that all the great competitors have this one thing in common. They are willing to work outside their comfort zone, even if it means being smashed over and over in training.