It’s a common complaint after training: ‘I was doing OK in the first 4 rolls but in the 5th I got annihilated…”. This is usually accompanied by a sad face and the throwing of rash guard on the mats. The reaction is a symptom of never being satisfied with our performance – and it’s a good thing! We should always want and try to win. But do you want to be at a gym where you win all the time and is winning more important then learning ?
The old saying goes, “If you’re smarter than everyone in the room, you’re in the wrong room,” and I believe the same applies to martial arts. If you train at a dojo where you beat everyone up, then you’re probably training in the wrong place. But then, you don’t want to be getting beaten up all the time either.
Is this sounding a little Mr. Miyagi? It’s an important topic, and a lot of research has gone into these questions. How often should we get beaten, and how often should we be dealing out the beatings? What’s the right level of difficulty to make the fastest progression? Here’s what some of the experts have discovered:
1) If you find training too easy and you aren’t reaching/struggling, you are not learning as quickly as you could be. This is called the comfort zone. Heavyweight black belts are rolling with lightweight white belts (you know who you are!).
2) If you aren’t even close to winning, then you aren’t learning well either. This is called the survival zone (where everything is a struggle). For example, you’re trying to do a double backflip while you can’t even do a back roll. To make maximal progress, successful attempts, which are often called positive reinforcements, are essential for learning.
3) The sweet spot is somewhere in the middle, meaning you need to struggle some – but not all – of the time, and where you should sometimes get it right. This is what accelerates learning, and where you make the most progress.
Research has found that we learn best if we’re somewhere between 50-80% successful in training. Think of it like target practice. You should set up training so that you hit the target 50-80% of the time. Once you get to 90%, move the target away or use a smaller one. This seems to hold true for any sport.
For BJJ, your ideal training partner is one you can beat 50-80% of the time. This way, they’ll always push you, and you’ll be learning. If you have 5 rolls a day and you win all of them, you’re probably not pushing yourself enough. Have at least one spar a day against someone who is better than you (but not outside your reach).
So next time you’re walking home after training, or having that post-session coffee with your training buddies, make sure you’re asking yourself the all-important question: ‘How often am I getting my a** kicked? It might just be that it’s what you’re needing to make the progress you’ve been looking for as you continue to learn and develop in the sport.
Why not sign up for your first free trial class right here at Richmond Fitness Club