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I have measured progress - both on and off the mat, in many different ways. Obviously, as we improve our skills/situation our yardstick for progress changes and morphs.
Progress on the mat, as a newbie, might mean surviving a little longer against a blue belt than you did last week; it might mean keeping someone in your guard a minute longer than you could last week. It might mean more subs, certain subs, being successful at an escape, hitting a new move just learned; it varies.
I will say this though, NOTICING SMALL IMPROVEMENTS is a habit very worth cultivating. The better you are at noticing very small improvements, the more likely you are to keep up your training through those ‘slumps’ and ‘valleys’. Many people fail miserably at this - they think they are not improving or making headway when in fact they are - it’s just that they are only only the lookout for the ‘large and noticeable’ gains.
Progress, both on and off the mat, is made up of many, many small gains - some almost invisible to others and even to ourselves. Become masterful and noticing the small gains; over time they lead you to the summit of everest! Remember - perfection is not the goal - progression is. JBW