Train to Improve; Not to win

Train to Improve; Not to win

Jiu-Jitsu can undoubtedly be a highly competitive martial art.  Every day we train live against a sparing partner it is very easy to train to win.  Unfortunately, while training to win has its uses, when solely focused on the tap,  personal growth and learning gets stunted.  People who train to win tend to only play their “A” game and don’t get to experience working from bad positions when training.  This oftentimes prevents the practitioner from rounding out their game.

Before you step on the mats determine what you want out of the training session.  For me I usually pick one of three goals, train to win, train to learn, or train for exercise.

Training to win: Yes, there is a definite place for training with a competitive mindset.  When I am training to win I usually push myself harder than I otherwise would.  When doing this make sure you make your intentions clear with your sparring parter and you also choose the appropriate partner.  For example, if I come to class looking to compete I chose other competitive players and not the guy who comes to the gym trying to learn self-defense and get in shape.

Training to learn:  When I train to learn I am looking to work on weak spots in my game, and experiment with new concepts or techniques.  I feel the strong part of my game lies in my passing and top pressure.  When I train with lower belts I always sit guard and play the bottom.  Sure my guard is getting passed a lot, but my bottom game is getting better and better.

Training for exercise: If you are like me, you probably find any exercise outside of Jiu-Jitsu boring.  I train for exercise when I am nursing an injury.  My sole focus is breaking a sweat and staying safe.  I am not worried about getting my guard passed and I am not worried about tapping or getting tapped.  Ironically when I let go of trying to win and even trying to learn I always surprise myself with the things that I do.

Happy training and stay safe

~Alex Kennedy

Sakura BJJ