Strengths Hiding Weaknesses

Sometimes a strength can be a liability, because it impedes the development of other areas. Let me give a personal example:

A little while ago I decided to work on my rear mount escapes, so I let a lighter and less experienced grappler start on my back. My goal was to escape to a better position, his goal was to maintain position and try to submit me. We did this 8 or 9 times in a row: I got out a few times, but 6 times he blocked my escape attempts and tapped me out with the rear naked choke.

This was a humbling experience: I was heavier, stronger and more experienced than my partner. In addition, I consider myself to have a good rear naked choke myself, so it seemed reasonable that my defenses would be fairly good as well.

Upon further reflection I realized that part of what happened is because I have a good turtle position; I can defend myself well when I find myself on my hands and knees, and it is hard for most opponents to get rear mount from there. Consequently I had actually spent very little time in the previous year(s) rearmounted, and hadn’t gotten any quality sparring in that area at all.

The strength of my turtle had been hiding several weaknesses, namely my weak rear mount escapes and weak rear naked choke defenses.

Now the concept of strengths hiding weaknesses can apply to a number of different areas, in grappling and in life in general. Restricting the conversation to solely to grappling for the time being, some examples of this might include:

  • a good closed guard hiding a weak open guard
  • a difficult-to-pass open guard hiding weak pin escapes
  • a strong neck hiding weak technical choke defenses
  • good athleticism hiding weak knowledge of techniques
  • a good sprawl hiding weak takedowns
  • etc

The list goes on and on, so it is worth asking yourself “what strengths are preventing me from finding out what my weaknesses are?”. If you are honest with yourself you might be able to think of a few areas where this concept applies.

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