Exiting the Downward Spiral
Jiu-jitsu is a game of ups and downs, both literally and figuratively. Sometimes you are the hammer and other times you are the nail. Those practices where you are sharp, and your techniques are working smoothly feel amazing. You can apply what you’ve learnt and see the results happening. The moments where technique and execution meet up are among the most captivating ones in your journey. It’s a feeling like none other.
Sadly, we can’t all ride that high forever. The inevitable downs come. There will be times where you feel like you’re slipping behind where you think you should be. Maybe it feels like you’re slower, or weaker, or sloppier than normal. Maybe even it’s all three. I can relate because that’s a lot how I feel right now.
The question posed is simple: What do you do when you’re in the trough of that wave? Literally, what do you do?
Find Your Reason
The first thing I do is paint the broad picture. I realize that every day I get to train is a blessing. Others simply cannot train because of schedule, injury, reticence, or any multitude of other reasons. That alone put things into sharp focus. Even though training might not be smooth sailing right now, at least I’m doing it.
When my body is sore and my fingers are aching, I know that on the mats is where I most want to be. At practice, I get a chance to improve every day. So many people would love that opportunity. They would look at me, even down in the training dumps, and be envious.
Another way to combat the slump is to take notes. Notes are a bit of a sticking point for some because we all learn differently. I’m not suggesting to take notes on specific techniques or drills but, instead take notes only on the high points of practice. Force yourself to discard the bad. This is a much more difficult task than it would seem. It takes mental exercise to do this.
Think about your rolls, find the best parts of them. You will without-a-doubt find even a few moments where you survived a bit longer, get to that position, hit a sweep, or whatever. Write those down and revisit them before your next practice. My advice is to keep your phone right by the mats and soon as practice is done, jot it down.
But there is also much to be learnt from failures. While it might seem totally contradictory, think about your shortcomings too (because, let’s face it, you already are). Discarding the low points from your notes doesn’t mean they go away. Think about the technical deficiencies in your game. They will be evident once you try to pin them down.
Now go work on them! This is almost the easiest part. Go train and hammer those weaknesses out. This is also the part of improvement that I personally enjoy the most. Wiping those blemishes off my resume. Getting granular is something I personally need the most when learning or refining. I need the details to put together pieces. I need to work on all the tiny facets. Discovering them and working on each little thing t o get back on track.
Getting yourself out of a down period is all about mindset and details. You can’t avoid them but having a game plan to tackle them can help get you out. If you start with these few things, you will find progress coming back to where you lost it.