Anton: How are you doing this Vincent? How have you done any of this? We have to go back.
Vincent: It's too late for that. We're closer to the other side.
Anton: What other side? You wanna drown us both?
Vincent: You wanna know how I did it? This is how I did it, Anton. I never saved anything for the swim back.
The above quote is from the movie "Gattaca, " which is set in not-so-distant future world in which children are conceived scientifically and effectively genetically engineered by their parents and doctors. Naturally conceived and, thus, genetically inferior people have become the world's under class.
The film's hero, Vincent, is conceived the old-fashioned way, and is born with all the genetic shortcomings of an average man (including a heart condition). In the scene quoted above, Vincent faces a challenge from his younger brother, Anton (genetically engineered and physically superior). The two swim out to sea and the first person to turn around and return to shore is the loser. Vincent wins and he reveals his secret - absolute determination and will. This movie is all about overcoming obstacles and beating the odds in the face of adversity (nothing new, but very well done).
I've seen this movie many times, but recently saw it again. It always motivates me. The idea of doing whatever it takes to succeed is a huge concept, and it's been written about many, many times by better writers than yours truly. So, I'm going to limit my thoughts to what I know a little about: doing what it takes to be successful on the mat.
Success in Grappling Comes from Maximum Effort and Drive.
Taking my cue from the quote above, the message is pretty simple: if you want to make real strides in your jiu jitsu/grappling, your effort and drive must be at their maximum. Forget about overtraining and coddling your sore and weary joints. Just like the real world, your sport demands the highest commitment from you with absolutely no excuses.
Here are a few fundamental guidelines:
- train often. After many years of training, I believe a 3-day/week training regimen is an ideal minimum for making advances. More than 3 days per week is even better. From my experience, training any less just won't cut. You need regular training to continue to develop and to achieve and maintain the proper levels of strength and stamina.
- train consistently. I've trained with a lot of guys over the years who have good skills and awesome potential (exceeding my own), but lack consistency. They come and go, taking days, weeks and even months off from training. This inconsistency retards growth and often results in people dropping out completely. Jiu jitsu, like many other sports, demands consistency and regular practice of its athletes. Despite injuries, jobs, relationships, children and whatever life issues you may face, you must find a way to prioritize regular training. It's critical.
- train hard*. When I train with my old teammate Kenny Bond, I often tell him afterward that I was actually trying to kill him. He always remarks back that it's totally fine. In fact, it's appropriate. The best training I've had occurs when both players are going 110% for broke and hold nothing back. This really is essential and too many grapplers hold back when they train. Certainly, you never want to hurt anyone or get hurt out there. Nor do you want to get sloppy and sacrifice technique. But you must push yourself to your limits when free training and do it often (see "train often," above).
- talent can be beaten. The concept of talent (inherent strength, wind, athleticism, flexibility, etc.) is pretty useless. If you are the guy with the talent but not working hard enough, then you haven't reached your potential. If you lack certain talents, then the buying in to the idea that some people are more naturally suited for grappling is limiting you. Discard it and concentrate on working harder.
* Drilling and "light training" are never enough training, even for beginners. You need real mat time at 100% speed against real opponents. If your school is not providing this kind of training, you need a new one.