Is My Jiu-Jitsu Getting Worse?

Photo by: Jared Lopper

At the end of class a student approaches and with head hung low says, “Coach, I feel like I am getting worse!”

This student has been coming to class regularly, has a good level of physical conditioning, and is mentally focused during the technique portion of class.

So what is the problem?

It is a matter of perception. The student has not had his skills evaporate in the last week. I would point out three factors that contribute to the student’s feeling that he is not improving.

Normal Ups And Downs

We are not machines and sometimes we just are…well…a little off. Some days we roll like Keenan Cornelius 2.0. Other days we struggle to get any flow going in our jiu-jitsu. Our limbs feel like they are made of wood and our reaction time is like that of a sloth on Nyquil.

We all have those days, so don’t put too much stock in a single day of training.

Everyone Is Getting Better, Too!

There is a saying that when the level of water rises in the harbour, all the ships go up.

If your partners are training regularly alongside you, you bet they are getting sharper and more knowledgeable as well! They are no longer easily giving up freebie positions or leaving their arms out. You are no longer able to catch easy sweeps or submissions.

Everyone Else Is Learning Your Game

It was bound to happen. After your training partners have been hit by your best sweep 50 times, they start to figure out what you are doing and put a stop to it!

You no longer have secret moves that are catching your opponents by surprise. They have figured out your game.

But do not despair. This is your opportunity to evolve and grow!

You need to dig deeper into your jiu-jitsu and get better. You need to learn a better way to do things: another detail, a better setup, how to overcome the counters to your favorite sweep. This is how having good training partners pushes us to be our best. We could not reach our potential without them.

Don’t worry, you are not getting worse!

Read also : 3 Tips On Learning From Your Training


  1. I think theres a moment that our game Is changing, not getting worse. just changing. Is like when a “guardeiro” begins pass guard, or vice-versa. Is when You is learning some new moves. Just relax and keep training, dont afraid this change.

  2. Also your ability to percieve new nuances in that which constitutes “good” jiu jitsu increases, as well as your physical skill and ability to execute technique. If your understanding and knowledge of the game increases at a rate slightly faster than your technical skill, then the perception is that your skill is further behind what you considered to be “good” at a previous time.

    • When you think your getting worse at any skill, it’s an indicator of a leap in learning. You have expanded your understanding, and have ever-higher goals to reach in technical execution.


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