Do we notice?
You know how it is when you go away for a few weeks, return home, and marvel at all the obvious changes that have taken place - in and around your town/city? Or your child heads of for a week or two of summer camp and when he or she comes home, you are amazed at how much they have grown? The point is this: every day, small changes are occurring, all around us, and within us; but we barely notice them, if we notice them at all. This sis certainly true on the mat. I cannot count the number of times I asked myself why I wasn't improving; why each night seemed as difficult as the previous, especially during my first few years of BJJ practice. The truth of course, was that it was difficult to measure any improvement, because everyone else (whoI was measuring myself against) was improving also. It was only when someone new came onto the mat that it became obvious that I had indeed made considerable gains.
This morning, during my Tabata-based workout, we went back to a more classic style of routine, one similar to the routine I went through when jumped into this kind of training as rehab after my last knee op. We did twenty seconds of pulling-chain exercises, had ten seconds to get to the next station, then twenty seconds of pushing-chain - times eight exercises - a one minute break after which we repeated it three more times. it was all done at maximum intensity - and I felt good throughout the whole thing. After it was all said and done - I asked myself a simple question "Could I wrestle well, right now?" the answer came back in the affirmative - and so I noted my improvement. it was still hard and challenging, but not like the first time I did it, when at the end of it all, I could barely get up onto my feet and walk (let alone wrestle). So we all make improvements - all the time - but it's only when we do careful measuring that we tend to notice what we have achieved.
On the mat, I notice many of my students making great gains - that is all well and good - but in the end, it's they themselves, who need to notice the gains; this is important if they are to remain motivated.