Jiu Jitsu’s Worst Enemy

Jiu Jitsu’s Worst Enemy

By: Joe Hannan

Jiu Jitsu's Worst Enemy

“… be on the lookout for when you start rationalizing that skipped training day, bailing on warmups, or half-assing your way through the lesson on deep half guard.”

There is something out there that has claimed the careers of more promising grapplers than anything else. It will sideline some longer than a torn ligament. Maybe worse, it will keep others locked in the same patterns, never to develop even though they’re always training.

Lucky for us, that force has a name. It’s called Resistance.

In his book that many revere with near religious adoration, Steven Pressfield explains in The War of Art how a force called Resistance works to bar us from self actualization. Resistance, Pressfield says, is the force that keeps novels unwritten, journeys untaken and startups from ever starting. It’s also alive and well on the jiu jitsu mats.

I’ve seen insidious Resistance affect grapplers in all sorts of clever ways. Perhaps its most cunning tactic is rationalization. Here’s a bit from Pressfield on the subject:

Resistance is fear. But Resistance is too cunning to show itself naked in this form. Why? Because if Resistance lets us see clearly that our own fear is preventing us from doing our work, we may feel shame at this. And shame may drive us to act in the face of fear. Resistance doesn’t want us to do this. So it brings in Rationalization. Rationalization is Resistance’s spin doctor.

Take a look at a few examples that I’ve gathered of how Resistance strong-armed grapplers I’ve known. Show of hands if you’ve thought these thoughts

  • Deep half guard just isn’t for me. I’m not going to waste much time on it.
  • I just lifted. I could use a night off the mats.
  • I just trained yesterday. Don’t want to upset the significant other.
  • It’s flu season. Keep running myself down like this and I’m likely to get sick.
  • It’s just a beginner’s class and I’m a blue belt. It’s not for me anyway.
  • We’re just going over half guard week, and I’ve got that under control.

As Pressfield points out, some of these rationalizations may even be true. That doesn’t make Resistance any less damaging. Usually, one rationalization begets another, and soon missed training days start to pile up.

The grappler, it seems really has their work cut out for them. Not only do they need to worry about the person choking them unconscious, they also have to mind Resistance, who’s looking to keep them off the mats.

There’s a silver lining in all of this. You can also use Resistance like a compass. Now that you’re aware of its devilish work, be on the lookout for when you start rationalizing that skipped training day, bailing on warmups, or half-assing your way through the lesson on deep half guard. Those rationalizations are the compass of Resistance directing you toward what you actually need to do: Go to class. Do the warmups. Pay attention.

Moreover, you probably need to double your efforts in these areas. You see, there’s another really handy thing about using Resistance to identify where you need the most work: Fighting against Resistance where it’s strongest will also produce the most strength in your game.

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