Early last year, I competed in a tournament (see photo above). I was a brown belt at the time, and the competition was was going to be way for me to highlight my stature and skills and show my coach I was ready for my black belt.
Instead, I lost the match and much worse - during the match, I tore my knee up and couldn't walk off the mat. I was carried out of the Los Angeles Convention Center by my coach and teammate. I had to have surgery the next week.
After weeks off, I started training again. It was a huge setback. You see, I had spent years specializing in one technique - the triangle from the guard position. It was my thing - it won me tournaments and got me compliments and chicks (actually, no chicks). But, without my knee, I had nothing. The black belt seemed far away.
It was at that time, that my good teammate and friend, John (a black belt in his own right) and I started to train in the mornings. I was still struggling miserably to get my triangle game back. It was then that John gave me some great training advice. He challenged to do everything I could to avoid pulling guard. It was the most difficult challenge for me since my early days when the basics seemed impossible. Every time we trained, he'd press me and force me to avoid my old guard game.
After months of training that way, I eventually adapted. I made up a new game; I tried new techniques - some worked and some didn't. But, I was no longer a triangle specialist - I had evolved. And, I was better.
And, I got that black belt last year (and I still triangle folks now and again for fun).