How Often Do You Step Outside Of Your Comfort Zone?

Very often on the mat I see people who steadfastly remain in their comfort zones.  This comes in many different forms. For example, they only train at their academy or they refuse to play the top or bottom positions while rolling.  They may also avoid certain training partners for no other reason than those training partners make them uncomfortable.  For anyone who has begun to develop a game and has begun to actually understand what jiu-jitsu is, the best advice is to explore outside of your comfort zone.

Many people say that the key to jiu-jitsu, and its greatest benefit, is finding comfort in discomfort.

If you feel that you are doing the most for your jiu-jitsu, ask yourself these questions:

  • How often do you visit other academies?  This can be inside the network of academies for your affiliation or it can be academies of other affiliations.  It can be for class or for open mat.  How often do you experience what other instructors and other training partners have to offer?  If you don’t, you’re not doing your best, and you’re simply staying inside your comfort zone.
  • If you are primarily a guard player or primarily a takedown artist/top player, how often do you experiment with the other side?  How often do you play to your disadvantages when you roll?  I know that many think of guard pulling as a dirty word, but what happens when you come up against a substantially better wrestler in competition?  Also, when you begin to actually and actively play guard or actively play a top/takedown game, you begin to learn the strengths and weaknesses of positions you otherwise wouldn’t have understood.
  • How often do you roll with training partners much bigger/smaller/older/younger than you? This can be a tricky one as rolling with someone with a substantial athletic disparity can result in injury in frailer practitioners, but if you are able-bodied and trust that specific training partner to not hurt you, learn what sorts of drawbacks and strengths that body type poses both to the practitioner as well as to you.

These are just three ways to step outside of your comfort zone, and if watching many people in the jiu-jitsu community is any indicator, these three questions are pertinent to a large portion of that community.  Far too often people get stuck in a rut of only playing a game with which they are comfortable, only playing positions in which they are comfortable, and only training with partners with whom they are comfortable.

Find positions and scenarios in which you are not comfortable and explore them.  Find out for yourself and experience a bit of everything this deep art has to offer.  Visit other gyms, because if you don’t, you’ll never really know how your game works against people with whom you’re not familiar, and you might even make new friends. Jiu-jitsu people can be very cool.  Roll with people that are of different body type and composition.

Of course with all of these things, be careful.  If you are injury prone, maybe stay in your comfort zone.  If you are happy with where your jiu-jitsu is and aren’t really interested in getting substantially better, stick with what you’re already doing.  But if you’re like me and you want to constantly push the boundaries of what you are capable of doing on the mat, step outside of your comfort zone.


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