The Jiu-Jitsu Times recently interviewed Gabriel Arges, who trains at Romulo Barral’s academy, Gracie Barra Northridge.
The mats there are filled with monsters like Edwin Najimi, Arges, Felipe Pena, and multiple-time World Champion Romulo Barral himself.
There are few easy rolls with lineup like that, and every day would be a battle to get through the training. But therein lies the reason why the level is so high. One of the ingredients we see in top competitive teams is they have high-level technical coaching.
The other important piece is a room full of skilled, highly-conditioned athletes who are pushing each other every training session. There is no room for complacency. Each athlete must grow and improve in that environment.
Head instructor Romulo Barral said in an interview :
“If everything is going too smooth, it is because you are in your comfort zone…The struggle is part of a champion’s life.”
While some BJJ students feel dejected if they tap in training and say to themselves, “I can’t believe that guy passed my guard,” we see many top competitors have the opposite mindset. They may have been the top dog in their academy in their small town, but they realize that they need to be in an environment where they are being pushed out of their comfort zone and being tapped. They are packing up their gym bag and moving to a top academy where they will be exposed to high-level training partners. This is how they are going to reach their full potential.
It would be easy and satisfying to be the toughest guy in the room at a small academy. But these athletes know that they need to train with others who will put the heat on them and push them out of that comfort zone. Instead of being a “big fish in a small pond” it is better to be a “small fish in a big pond” when it comes to training at the highest level. These athletes are seeking out training partners who can tap them out!
What does this mean for the BJJ student who has no designs on winning a world title?
The idea is to be aware of your comfort zone and look for situations to push yourself out of it. Roll with that guy whose guard you can’t pass. Train your stand up when you would rather just jump to guard. Do an extra round when you are starting to fatigue.
“Everything that you want is just outside your comfort zone.”
Read also on Jiu-jitsu Times: Stuff Your Coach Yells