Islands in an endless ocean
I have had a lot of students over the years, ask for advice and direction on how they should proceed in the formative years of their training … and although everyone develops slightly differently (there is no specific cookie-cutter approach), there is a way to look at it that makes sense and seems to help a little …
How do we start – the answer is easy: one position at a time. We choose a position that we think is attainable (it may be the guard, sider control, mount … whatever) and we focus on getting there from as many situations as we can. We focus first on getting there – and then we focus on being able to maintain that position. Once we can get there, and keep it – we begin to build attack skills from there.
A simple analogy I sometimes use is to liken the start to being dropped onto a world that is entirely covered by water – you start treading water, learning to float until off on the horizon and island emerges. You make your way to the island – and once there, you are much, much better off – after a while, the island becomes familiar ground.
Eventually, other islands appear, some bigger than others, each offering unique opportunities. as we become more familiar with other islands, and we begin to develop the skill to get from one to the next, the world becomes a much more inhabitable place. Eventually, much of the water becomes replaced by familiar ground – although we may find ourselves in deep water from time to time, we are never that far from dry land.
BJJ is just like this – it takes time, it takes effort but eventually you mostly find yourself inhabiting familiar ground. So for those starting out on their BJJ journey – although you might be treading water right now – it won’t be long before you spot your very first island on the horizon. Everyone starts this way - you are not alone …