Note: I started teaching 1st grade and it has me completely exhausted. I’m also doing a lot more jiu jitsu a lot more consistently. This is my current excuse for not posting more. :/

As a language teacher and student, I observed that the most improvements were made at the beginner stage. You go from zero to 1 and you’re already MILES above where you were. The language opens up opportunities, conversation trees, and possibilities. Where a lot of the frustration comes in is in the intermediate level. The gains are all of a sudden much smaller and less noticeable. As you improve, this gets more and more true.

The same is true in jiu jitsu. I’m now nearing my 7 year anniversary! (woot!) I’m a solid intermediate, and I don’t see daily gains or even monthly gains. HOWEVER, since I decided to compete in July, I have seen some big differences that are helping me, a solid intermediate, improve:


I now run to choose the best-for-me training partner. I don’t wait in the wings. I put my training above that brand new person’s experience and grab the highest belt I can, or the most athletic partner I can. One of my favorite training partners is a guy I’d avoid in the past. He is a wrestler, athletic, 22, and very competitive. As a lazy grappler, he was a nightmare partner. As someone trying to compete, he’s perfect – he has the stamina and energy and raw athleticism and I know I’ll get a lot out of doing reps with him. More so than if I’m having to explain a lot to a new person, or if I’m working with another lazy grappler. I also grab grapplers I think will be helpful or a challenge to grapple with.


Today I really noticed this. We had only one other person in class – a different wrestler, and the black belt instructor. We were doing an activity where you spar until a person scores one point – this way we get more familiar with the rules of competition. I noticed I was not at all timid in approaching them, even when standing. Before, I was fairly nervous about doing ANY kind of standup, and nervous about wrestling with new people.


I can’t say I’m not lazy – this is simply not true. But I actively seek submissions now. I attack more. I go for takedowns. I am on the offensive more. I FIGHT for positions, whereas before I would mostly open up my wallet and hand them my pocket change.

I was the cat.

I was the cat. “This is my life meow.”

These are by no means BIG gains, but I do think they’re important and substantial small gains. I also think they come from changing SOMETHING up and not simply doing the same thing half-assedly. You have to WHOLE-ass it.


Jiu Jiu’s Question: Assuming you are an intermediate or advanced in (insert activity here), what have you been doing to improve? Where have you personally seen gains? What did you change to start seeing some results?