I’ve quickly found that I go through fits of trying to take the long view when it comes to progression and just wanting the next color around my waist. I trust my teachers; they see how I’m rolling, what my strengths and weaknesses are far better than I ever could – and they have a better idea of what I need to accomplish on the mats before I can test for that blue belt.
I don’t want to be a belt chaser; I just want to know that I’m getting better. As a grappler, I’ve realized rather early that there are times of explosive growth and moments of epiphany followed closely by long periods of plateau. This post is a vain attempt at becoming OK with those plateaus, knowing that the growth will come in time, so long as I’m remaining focused and consistent, putting in as much mat time as is healthy, getting good rest, letting my mind relax when I’m off the mats, etc. These are hard things to do, especially when all tied together, but they must be inevitable forces of my life if I ever want to see that growth.
I titled this post “taking the long view” because I’m working on learning to use the day-to-day training to affect how I roll later in life – when some other belt is cinched across my waist; relying on muscle or speed isn’t going to work. It barely works now. Each technique that I learn and can execute slowly even in a live roll – those are the ones that will help build my grappling foundation. It is in the smallest of details that growth is found.
I learned today that I hold my opponent’s collar too long while they’re in my closed guard. I opened it up a little today – even though I was worried that they’d posture and I wouldn’t be able to break their base – and managed to throw a wrist to the side in order to get to their back. One good thing!
I’m beginning to ramble, but I think an important aspect of taking the long view is being able to celebrate the small day-to-day victories. It isn’t that I dominated X or I subbed Y – it’s that I got my hips out enough to work that elbow escape, or I remembered to trap an arm before bridging, or I didn’t completely gas out after 10 minutes of rolling. Today, I’ll celebrate releasing the lapel to pull that wrist over and that I didn’t put my palms on my knees at the end of class.