Sorry, It’s Gonna Get Worse…

Stephan teaching rectangle

As you improve as a grappler you’ll go through phases of adding new techniques and strategies to your game.  These are exciting times, but the sad truth is that you’re usually gonna get worse before you get better.

Case in point: a friend recently called me up, wanting to do some sparring.

He’d just been training with Marcelo Garcia in NYC, and had a whole bunch of new techniques and strategies in his arsenal.  He wanted to see how this brand-new technology worked on a new victim.  I volunteered, and a few hours later we were on the mats sparring.

Well things didn’t go exactly according to plan, and  I ended up absolutely crushing him that day.  None of his new material could touch me at all

So what’ s the deal.  Does Marcelo Garcia’s material suck?  Is he a terrible teacher?  Am I invulnerable on the mats?

No, No and No!!!

It’s all just part of the normal learning progression.  When you learn something new it just takes a while to integrate it into your game.  The new techniques won’t come out as smoothly or as instinctively as your ‘normal’ game.  If you’re really giving the new material a chance then your performance will usually suffer, and you’ll get schooled by people you can normally hang with.

After our sparring session I told him: ” I can totally feel that you’re trying to incorporate new material.  You’re hesitating and moving a bit awkwardly.  I’m sure this will change – let’s see how you feel in a week.”

When we sparred the next time I had a much tougher time with him.  He had been drilling those techniques (including lots of targeted sparring).  Lo and behold, all of a sudden those new moves he’d learned became genuine threats on the mat.

So when you see a technique that you really like, don’t just try it once and then throw it out if ‘it doesn’t work.’  Accept that you might get worse before you get better.  Be patient, stick to your guns, keep on drilling the technique and your game will thank you for it!

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