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Difficulty in seeing progress

Being a beginner in anything is difficult. But being a mid level beginner can sometimes be even harder.

When starting out a new programme, I’m going to use BJJ as an example, we feel the first few months are amazing, as we really do learn new things, loads of movements, a few submissions and, if its taught correctly you get to practice these techniques alongside others of a similar level. At our academy we have a beginners course that covers the fundamental techniques that you will use throughout all of your bjj training no matter the level of expertise and you do this with other likeminded individuals too.

You start to adopt these techniques and progress in to the larger intermediate classes where there are other members in those classes of differing levels. Some who will have trained for a few years and those who have joined the academy alongside you.

But when this happens and we get six to twelve months in we can sometimes start to get a little disheartened with our abilities.

We keep getting stuck in the same position.

We keep getting submitted by the same technique.

We keep getting frustrated by our inability to do something correctly and we can really feel that we aren’t progressing at all but what we fail to realise is actually how far we have really come.

When we train alongside likeminded individuals we have to remember that they are also improving too. We can’t just expect to see our skill levels rise and not theirs.

It’s extremely difficult some days, and totally normal, to doubt yourself and your skills, abilities and your propensity for learning jiu jitsu on these hard days, weeks or even months when it feels like nothing is getting better.

Remember there’s a saying and although its origin originally pertains to economic policy it still rings true for teams all over.

A rising tide raises all ships

If you’re getting better, which, if you’re training and learning from a respected coach and training alongside like minded individuals you will be, then so are your partners.

If they are getting better, and you are getting better, then it becomes extremely difficult to gauge your improvement and that is why, in one of my previous posts I talk about the futility of comparing and how comparison is the theif of joy.

We also have to remember that improvement, though incremental, doesn’t happen instantly every session.

Some days, even as a black belt and having given my whole life to the study of martial arts, I still have days where I feel like I haven’t improved and know nothing.

Your improvements will often come in ‘chunks’ and you then feel  like you have levelled up. And its quite a difficult concept to understand, but as you feel like like you have been adopting certain techniques or concepts in to your style of grappling suddenly you will notice the same things working regularly and gradually that becomes your style.

I study the piano and I’m a definite beginner. I love the practice and I don’t get the time to practice as much as i would like, and some days I feel useless, like ill never get to grips with a song or a piece or a part and it seems absolutely foreign to me.

Then when I think back to when I started, it isn’t even comparable.

I can read music.

I can press the corresponding keys on the sheets.

I can play music.

I’m just not where i want to be with it, which is good, because i can always improve. And progress.

But some days its important to remember how far we have come and how much we have progressed.

If you’re having a struggle with your training, keep your head up, speak to your coach, find your positives (like how far you have come and the progress made), and have a little look to check you're on track with your goals and targets. If not, make a little adjustment.

And lastly, give yourself credit for how far you have come. Not long ago, you were a beginner and if you only compared with whose level is important ,you when you first started, you'd be way out in front.

Take care.



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