One of the truly great benefits from training jiu jitsu is the learning process itself. You can learn genuine life lessons from what you learn on the mat- not only the philosophical stuff like “don’t meet force with force all the time”, but the actual way you learn in grappling. You have to constantly restart and try again without getting discouraged. Let’s call this process “the grappling reset button” for our purposes.
Here are three ways you can use the “reset button” concept to get better at jiu jitsu, based on different time frames. Keep in mind that you’re going to be able to use these immediately on the mats, but you may also be able to apply some of these lessons in life as well.
Reset #1: Mid-roll reset
The scenario: Your guard has been passed, and your opponent moves straight to the mount position. You “hit the reset button”, regroup your defensive posture, and work on first surviving, then escaping.
The result: You may well get tapped! The good thing about jiu jitsu is that it doesn’t even mean the roll is over (necessarily), unless y0u’re training with a specific objective in mind, or with specific rules. It’s not a huge deal: you take note of the mistake you made, or what it was that your partner did that was awesome, and you slap hands and restart from a neutral postion.
Or… you escape! You survive the onslaught of submission attempts before seeing your opening, and you go for it and get out. Either way, you have to stop what you’re doing and start again. Think of this one as more of a “grappling snooze button” if you’d like.
Reset #2: Mid-technique reset
The scenario: You start passing the guard, and about mid-way through, you realize that your hips are far above your opponent’s hips- a cardinal sin in guard passing! You realize the folly of your ways (or respect the craftiness of your opponent), and drop your hips back to the front of your opponent’s guard.
The result: You don’t pass the guard right away… but you’re not swept, either. You’re in the game, and you’re going to have another chance to pass now that you are centered and in front of your partner. Jiu jitsu is full of dozens of little battles like this, constant slight mistakes with tons and tons of little corrections always being made. Even the best practitioners of all time – from elite level athletes competing at the Mundial to the absolute legendary instructors- will make subtle mistakes and correct them. The difference is that they are so used to correcting their tiny mistakes that very few are able to capitalize on their errors!
Reset #3: Taking some time off, the week-long reset
You can’t seem to catch a break at the gym. Everyone is passing your guard, tapping you out left and right, and you’re getting frustrated. Sometimes your body needs a break so that it can heal up, and most people already realize this. However, sometimes your mind needs a break, too.
You come back after four days off (or a week, or however long you decide is right for you), and you notice that not only is your elbow feeling better, your fingers don’t hurt from gripping so much, and you can hip escape without your back hurting; but also that you have a renewed passion for the gentle art. You see new transitions and new details on old positions, and your game is kicked up a notch while rolling with the same partners who were destroying you a few weeks ago. It turns out that your mind was still working on jiu jitsu even while you were away from the mats! You have figured things out about the big picture instead of focusing on tiny details, and as a result, your game has taken a huge leap forward.
Learn to use the “grappling reset button” at the appropriate times, and you’ll notice that your game improves quickly. Take note of how this lesson can apply in real life, as well: you will need to be persistent at times, but also patient; hitting the reset button encourages both traits.