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Go Beyond Your Personal Best

There is a misconception about doing our best. It is often associated with performing as intensely as we can while utilizing our top strengths. However, instead of pushing as hard as we can and relying on what has been effective in the past, doing our best will also require that we slow down and develop new skills.

As we enter this new training season, I encourage you to take time to go beyond what has been your personal best by learning new things and trying new positions that will truly challenge you. Only then will you be able to achieve new goals and move beyond your limitations.

Too often I see training being prioritized over learning new tools. Both training and learning must go hand in hand. I am a huge proponent of being consistent in your training. But it is possible to be consistent and work hard in your training while continuing to do the same things over and over without learning anything new.

Let me give you an example. The way we teach Jiu Jitsu at Team Passos is a system of positions that strategically build upon one another. During instruction, these positions are broken down into steps so that the students can most effectively learn and execute them. If I were to show step one of a position and a student thinks that they will either never use it or does not prefer that position the student may disengage during the instruction and put in minimal effort when it comes time to drill the position. Or, at times, when a student does not think they will be good at the position, they shut down from the start and do not give their best.

Then, when the class progresses and I teach the next position, which is the second step, that same student who did not focus on the first may love the second position, but they are unprepared to implement it since they did not take the time to learn step one correctly. A comes before B. The student did not develop the foundational skills with the first position. Now, being ill-equipped to progress to step two, he subsequently finds himself behind the other students. What I’ve seen play out next is that the student will try to bridge the learning gap by cutting corners, usually compensating with a previously accomplished skill or strength. But what too often ends up happening is that the student develops bad habits. Ultimately this ends up stunting their growth in the medium and long term.

There is wisdom in capitalizing on your strengths and refining your current skills. We will push you to accomplish this in class. But not at the expense of developing new skills and grasping the concepts taught on a more profound level. This is what will allow you to truly understand the art of Jiu Jitsu and fully develop your game.

Human nature tends to focus on what we are good at while relying on the tried and true. However, what we are actually dealing with in these scenarios is typically pride and the fear of either failure or not performing that new skill with excellence. If all you do is continue to sharpen your current tools over and over, eventually those tools will disappear. People will figure out your game and shut it down. While you still may be good at a particular position, people will be able to anticipate and counter it if you have not developed a wider funnel of techniques and positions.

I often tell my students, even if they do not initially understand, or are not able to implement a particular technique, to continue to work on what is being taught to the best of their ability. While you may not use a particular position in the exact way at the given moment, it can lead to another position that will fit your game beautifully. Are you willing to drill a position 100 times, even if it is not your favorite? Sooner or later, you will find that you are seamlessly executing that technique that was once so challenging for you.

Do not compromise your vision and standard for your training by cutting corners. Do not let fear dominate you and keep you from trying new tools. Risk your pride on the mat by putting yourself in vulnerable positions that allow you to strengthen the holes in your game. The humility to learn over the desire to win is what your game is built on and what will sustain your success.

I encourage you to do your best this year. Resolve to learn and develop new skills by leaving the bubble of your comfort zone. Do your best by not just working hard and relying on your strengths but be willing to engage in new experiences that will challenge you and strengthen your game. You will not need to come up with a program on your own that forces this. Our Team Passos Instructors have taken the time to develop a strong curriculum that will expose you to new tools. The instructors are dedicated to working with you individually to develop your game.

By following this year’s program, you will progress in the art of Jiu Jitsu. You will come across positions that you are great at. Some positions will be your favorite and others you will not find as comfortable. All the positions build upon one another into a larger system, equipping you to develop your game. You will develop even further physically, mentally, and emotionally. Your Jiu Jitsu will take on an entirely deeper meaning and you will experience unprecedented growth both on and off the mat.

Action items:

  1. Sharpen your strengths WHILE adding new tools.

  2. Drill properly. No cutting corners or holding back. Give it all you have and soon you will find you have surpassed your previous limitations.

  3. Go outside of the box. Do not limit yourself to just working hard by drilling the same techniques you are already strong at. Take a chance and apply for the new position you were taught in class. Trying new things expands your understanding and abilities.

  4. Be patient with yourself. Give yourself the grace to make mistakes and not meet the high bar you set for yourself every time.

  5. Reach out and connect with your teammates and coaches. Leverage our BJJ family to help you reach your goals rather than try to accomplish it all on your own.

  6. Be deliberate in your training. Attend class with intentionality and engage in what the coach is teaching. There are no throwaway classes. Every class we teach fits into a larger strategy. Nothing here is done by chance.

  7. Prepare your body for training. Focus on adequate water intake and the food you are eating. Fuel your body to perform at its peak so that you can maximize your class time. Remember: the water you drink today is the water you use on the mat tomorrow.

  8. Goal setting is important. Have an overall vision for your training. Then set measurable and achievable goals that align. Celebrate small wins to create momentum. This will increase your confidence and fulfillment which will encourage you to make even more progress.

– Professor Tony Passos


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