If you hop into any academy across the world you will see that the people in the academy can be very different from one another. This can be in terms of age, race, profession and other various traits. What makes some BJJ Players very successful and others struggle more to progress? Why can some people progress to black belt in 6 years and other can take well over 10? Why can some players grab gold medal after gold medal while others have a hard time making it past the first round? There are a few main traits I believe separate the elite from the average in Jiu Jitsu.
The first trait that makes a bjj player successful is his/her dedication to the art. How many days/ week are you willing to invest into training and how much rolling are you willing to do? Will you train laid back and lazy or are you willing to push yourself every day to be better, faster, stronger and more technical? If you want to be truly successful you need to be in the gym as much as possible 5-7 days a week and you need to roll every class and push yourself even when you are tired.
They also don’t eat crap food all the time. Face it, you get out what you put in. If you fuel yourself with burgers and junk food than you will more than likely preform like junk. Jiu Jitsu has the healthy lifestyle and diet ingrained into the culture, but many new white belts don’t always learn this quick. The faster you learn this lesson and the better you fallow it the better you preform.
The next trait I believe can make a bjj player successful is their ability to train smart. This encompasses many thinks. First is picking your training partners well (the ones on the same mission, the ones who won’t spaz and injure your and the people who are willing to help you) this also includes a healthy ego. Knowing when to tap and when to keep fighting is crucial to staying on the mats and becoming a better grappler.
The right Academy
A successful BJJ player also chooses the right academy. By this I mean the right academy for that particular individual. The environment we surround our self in tends to rub off on us. Show me your three closest friends and I will show you who you are. This same principle is true in Jiu Jitsu. If your academy or instructor is very close minded; there is a good chance you may also develop this attitude. The right academy also has to include the right people to train with. The right method of training, and the right structure.
The next trait of a successful BJJ player is encompassed in the former trait. A successful BJJ player has an open mind. It has been said that the mind is like a parachute. ..It works better when it is open. We have to always be willing to learn anytime and from anyone. We can’t just refuse to study a position because we don’t personally like it. We must strive to learn as much as possible because even if we don’t use a certain position , our opponent might.
Know when to Rest
The sixth important trait is a tricky one because it is often over used. A successful BJJ player knows when and how to rest. Many people tend to over rest their bodies which can lead to feeling sore again after a hard training session. We have to listen to our body , but at the same time continue to push hard. The problem is everyone has a different body and thus everybody needs a different amount of down time and sleep. It is also important to note that how you rest can be just as important as how much you rest. If the only relaxation you give your body is sitting on a couch watching t.v ; you could probably be doing something much more productive in your down time.(Reading books about sports nutrition/psychology, meditating, Writing a blog about Jiu Jitsu ..haha, socializing with friends and family, etc)
Not afraid of failure
last trait is the one I believe is most important to the general development of being a successful BJJ player. A successful BJJ player is not afraid to fail and take chances. This is something very close to my heart. So many times people stay in their own safety net because of the fear of failure. You can’t let this fear stop you from putting yourself out on the competition mats and from trying new moves and playing a new game. I want to leave you with a quote from one of my favorite athletes. “Success is formulated through failure; through falling down and getting back up that’s what creates the champion. That negative energy that fear is destroyed and it comes back as confidence”- Greg Plitt