When it comes time to think about training to the advanced level in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, it’s important to set your expectations correctly and be aware of some of the challenges that lie ahead.
There is an initial honeymoon phase with training where your progress is linear and very exciting. You attend a lesson, you leave energized and better than when you came in. It feels great! You were born to do this! It normally takes people 4-5 years to get to their advanced ranking, but at the pace you’re going hey, maybe it’s only going to take you 3 years!
Then one day, out of nowhere, it hits you. You feel stale. You’ve seen these techniques already and get the general idea- why are you practicing them again? The rapid pace of your progression has slowed to what feels like a grinding halt. Everything just feels off and you might even start to feel like you’re getting worse. Now you can’t help but think- maybe you were wrong. Maybe this isn’t your thing.
Ah… Your first plateau. I’d say it comes in around the 4-6 month mark of training if you’ve been diligent with your practice- it’s different for everyone though.
It’s a normal part of training towards being advanced at anything to plateau. Just part of the game. You plateau, then you bust through and you have the juice again. Back on top! For a while at least. Then you plateau again, bust through again, and the cycle continues on and on for as long as you keep training.
The difference between the beginner and the advanced student is that the beginner gets discouraged by the plateau and the advanced student learns to look forward to it. They learn to see it for what it is- an opportunity to reflect, assess what is going right, what could be going better, and then make the effort to course correct.
Sometimes it can be a really easy solution, like being more consistent with attending a specific practice session, or creating that vision of yourself of how you will be different- how your life will be better- as an advanced martial artist and setting the goals for yourself that will help you get there.
Other times it’s not so simple to figure out, but that’s part of the reason you have coaches and senior students to ask for help and direction in your practice. When you’re feeling like you’re on the plateau, don’t be shy about communicating it and asking for some help to bust through. Literally everyone with an advanced rank has been exactly where you are many, many, times. No one else can do the work for you, but there’s a lot of help and support for you along the way.
When you see the plateau for what it is, a brief resting place (not a final resting place), you can relax, enjoy, and then start preparing to make it to the next level!