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6 ways ego can limit growth in Jiu-Jitsu

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6 ways ego can limit growth in Jiu-Jitsu

1. Excessive teaching when drilling.

It’s one thing to help a no stripe white belt struggling through a technique. It is another matter to start reteaching a move after the instructor has just taught it. You are not allowing your partner to even try, fail and fix what he is attempting to learn. People who fall into this ego trap usually can be found saying, “You work the move the whole time. I’ve seen this before.” Excessive teaching establishes a dominate roll between you and your partner and allows you control of the situation and how much your drill. Boxers have seen a jab before. Elite boxers still practice a jab and associated footwork. There is a difference between giving a partner feedback and controlling the situation through instruction.

2. Excessively working defense against opponents during sparring.

Most will agree that in a balanced way you need to intentionally put yourself in bad spots and work your way out of them. People better than you will put you there against your will. Partners who are less skilled than you will need to be given the position. People of equal skill can provide competitive back and forth rolls and you can occasionally intentionally give them good positions to work your way out. The ego trap is where you intentionally work defense against somebody who poses a threat to you because if they catch you, you rationalize that you weren't trying 100% anyway. This is particularly evident when you have somebody who is a rising star but you are supposed to be better/higher ranking than. This ego trap can be disguised well, especially when combining it with some very valid points about the importance of defense in general.

3. Just showing up for rolling.

This allows you to control the situation in which you learn. Some people don’t like working 50/50 guard. Only came to rolling the week the gym was going over 50/50 guard? It’s because you knew you would be forced to learn, drill and specific train a position you have no interest in. This ego trap is very common for practitioners who do not have a well-rounded game but are exceptional in one area but are severely deficient in another. Possibly you specialize in the open guard but know your coach will force you to specific train your takedowns if you came to class? “I’ll just pull guard in competition anyway.”

4. Technique X doesn't fit my game.

Everybody has a set of techniques they are best at. They will go for their ‘a game’ techniques when rolling hard or in a competition. This ego trap comes in when learning a new technique but it is dismissed, forgotten or filed into the back pits of your brain as soon as class is over because it incorporates a different strategy, grips or position than what you are currently good at. All roads lead to Rome.

5. A 26 time world champion taught me this way.

Yes, your 26 time world champion is very qualified and knowledgeable. It’s probably a great technique too. The inability to learn something different from what this qualified person taught you is an ego trap is particularly evident when the student studies or has studied with a great champion for a period of time. Quite frequently because of the instructors accomplishments it closes the students mind to any other possibilities. Simply look at the differences between Roger Gracie’s approach to bottom half guard and Bernardo Faria’s. Both are great champions with many accomplishments. For one, the half guard is a last resort. For the other, is a main attacking weapon. This is made worse when the champion - for whatever reason - tells the student this is the proper/correct way to approach the position.

“If you train a lot but do the techniques the wrong way, you will be very good at doing the wrong moves... Learn the basics, the right way, with the best details, and with the best techniques which have been tested by world champions.” - Mendes Brothers Art of Jiu Jitsu website subscription page.

Try instructing a blue belt a different approach to a position who has been taught with this type of mentality is very difficult. It builds ego, closes the mind and limits long term growth.

Independent of this ego trap and a point of philosophical jiu jitsu debate is that doing things wrong is a very important part of ones journey. This mirrors how one learns and grows in life and mistakes build very important life lessons. It adds to ones wisdom in old age. The same is true on the mat. Again, all roads lead to Rome.

6. Fear of Success.

Success builds expectations. High expectations bread a fear of letting down expectations and leads to a more pronounced fear of failure.

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