BJJ progress: 10 things that can slow it down

At the beginning of the adventure with BJJ, you learn something new in virtually every training. Unfortunately, the pace of progress decreases over time. Your development is just no longer as visible as before. However, it is normal and happens to all of us. We just have to get used to this little slower pace. But what if you are aware of that, think that you are doing everything right and not seeing your progress in jiu jitsu anyway? Check here if you are not affected by one of these 10 things that can slow your BJJ progress.

1) Number of trainings

Let’s start with something obvious. Too few trainings can slow down your BJJ development. You just can’t improve your skills without practice. So don’t be surprised if you have no progress when you come to training only once in a while. Even if you train regularly, but only once or twice a week, your progress will be rather slow. It’s because steady growth simply requires a lot of time on the mat.

However, as with everything, it’s just best to find the golden mean. That is because unfortunately, too much training can also slow your BJJ progress. We often think that more is better. But it can also lead to overtraining. The more you train, the less time you have for your body to recover, both physically and mentally. Such fatigue does not lead to the improvement of skills but rather can result in injuries. That’s why proper training frequency is so important. And if you’re not sure how many times you should appear on the mat, read more about it here.

2) Not leaving your comfort zone

During the adventure with jiu jitsu, most of us start to specialize in some things. We begin to be good at some techniques, so we start to rely on them. After some time, we also have a circle of our favorite sparring partners. For various reasons, maybe we also don’t compete. We have just reached some level, and instead of measuring higher, we are starting to feel comfortable at it. And this translates into that we stop pushing ourselves enough to progress. Staying in your comfort zone will maintain your skills level. However, to improve your BJJ game you need to leave it. Of course, you can still have your favorite sparring partners and feel the best using some techniques. But to have BJJ progress you also have to try new things and challenge yourself.

3) Ego

Often our ego and the desire to be better and better push us forward. Sometimes, however, we are our own greatest enemy, and instead of climbing higher and higher, we don’t want to lose what we have. For example, we are starting to be too proud, and we don’t want to lose at any price, so we choose only weaker people as sparring partners, etc. In such situations, you only worry about tapping, and you don’t learn as much as you could while rolling. Exposing yourself to challenges such as rolling with higher belts is simply better learning than constant winning with weaker ones. Failure is also part of the learning process. It does not stop progress, overgrow ego can.

The situation here may be also opposite. You don’t choose the weaker ones but challenging partners. Then you put 200% into every such sparring as if you were fighting for the title of world champion. In theory that’s good. However, in practice, you usually do it aggressively and use strength rather than technique because only the next victory counts. This attitude may seem like a straight path to success, but in reality, it often only slows down your development. Again, ego rules you, and you don’t get as much learning out of roll as you could if you had done it wisely.

4) Lack of plan

Just like in life, also in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, without goals, you can become directionless. If you come to the mat with an attitude: “let’s see what will happen”, you can still make development. However, progress will be so much slower than when you approach the training with the plan. With clear goals, knowing exactly what you want to achieve, you will improve so much faster. That’s why you need a plan with goals, one after another, big and small ones. Without knowing what to focus on, you just don’t focus on anything, and your BJJ progress is slowing down. Having goals in jiu jitsu is just as important as having goals in life. Goals simply help you stay on the right path, both in sport and life.

5) The poor condition of your body

Having an unhealthy lifestyle, being in a poor condition, weak and inflexible with no stamina can drastically slow down your BJJ progress. You just can’t make development if your body is not ready for it. The fact that you understand the mechanics of various fancy techniques does not translate much to your progress if you cannot do them. You must not only take care of your knowledge of movements etc. but also your body. Well-conditioned athletes simply learn faster, recover more quickly, and are less likely to get injured. So if you train and party alternately or still have some unhealed injuries, and therefore reduced body performance, don’t be surprised that your progress is slower than some other people on the mat.

6) No further interest

If you go to training regularly, several times a week, put a lot of energy and commitment into it and you still do not have too much progress, it may be because of this lack of further interest. You think you are doing so much, and it may be just that much. The point is that you focus on BJJ only on the mat, and outside of it, you don’t think about jiu jitsu at all. This forgetting about BJJ after the class doesn’t stop what you learned on them, but it certainly slows down your progress significantly. To develop faster you almost have to breathe BJJ. After training, you need to analyze what you did right and wrong on the mat. Watch instructional videos at home, practice techniques on a grappling dummy, or with friends in your free time, etc.

7) Lack of knowledge consolidation

This point is somewhat related to the previous one. You go to training regularly, you even watch instructional videos, etc. but your BJJ progress is still rather slow. It could be that you drill some technique even for half a year, but then you never repeat it, and thus you forget it a little. Or as in the previous section, after class, you do not analyze what you did on the mat, why e.g. someone submitted you. You don’t think about the mechanics behind the technique that the trainer showed that day, etc.

You just don’t make an effort to consolidate your knowledge, remember what you already know and polish these skills. This approach will not stop your progress. You will still be acquiring knowledge, doing some things automatically. The development will be just slower. It can be compared to that you enter information in one ear, out the other. You will naturally have some of the info in your head, but not as much as could have stayed there if you focused on knowledge consolidation.

8) Focus management

This point is the reverse of the abovementioned the poor condition of your body as a thing slowing down your BJJ progress. You won’t develop in jiu jitsu if you mentally are not ready for it. Lack of learning attitude, daydreaming, when the trainer explains the technique, etc., can slow down your progress, as well as lack of stamina or inflexibility. To growth you must be focused on it, to be body and soul on the mat, not just the body. You can’t come to class to just lose some time. Instead, you must want to get the most out of every training. Your progress in jiu jitsu will be much faster if you give it your full attention.

Moreover, “focus” can also have other meanings here. Your progress may be slower because you focus on “bad” things. Namely, you practice e.g. only finishing techniques, and you forget about basic movements and positions. You focus so much on the ground game that you forget about takedowns etc. To develop, you must not only remember to be focused on what is happening on the mat here and now. You also should remember to be quite versatile and not focus too much on just one thing.

9) Bad academy or/and coach

Usually, the reason why your BJJ progress is slow lies somewhere in you, no matter how kitschy it sounds. It’s simply your attitude, poor conditioning, etc. However, although rare, sometimes it happens that you do everything right, and this problem seriously is not within you. In such situations, the reason why your development is slow is a bad club and/or a coach. Some places are simply more money-oriented than the well-being of their students. It may also be e.g. lack of discipline, aggressive, toxic competition between students, or poor management in general, which makes the academy bad. Besides, the trainer may be disrespectful for students, have shady belt lineage, cannot transfer knowledge properly, or be simply a toxic person. This transfers into your lack of development, a poor atmosphere in the club and the members not being good training partners.

If you think that this may be your problem with a slow BJJ progress check here if you’re not training in BJJ Mcdojo. Besides, ask yourself a question if your instructor shows and explains techniques properly, corrects, and motivates you. Think also whether when was the last time he sparred with you how committed does he seem to the progress of you and your teammates.

10) Being too hard on yourself

Sometimes we have high expectations, and we get discouraged by telling ourselves that we do not have progress even though it is there. This negative attitude and diminishing one’s development over time can translate into a real pace of growth. It creates such a vicious circle. We have objectively good progress, but we tell ourselves that it is too weak, so we get discouraged, then we have a bad attitude and progress slows down, so we are still dissatisfied with it.

Such thinking is deadly. It’s normal to have ups and downs in BJJ. We do not always have to worry about the fact that at the moment we are not developing at a rapid pace. Sometimes it’s worth letting go and not being too harsh on yourself. So before you start torturing yourself with more trainings or changing the club, think twice whether you are not growing at a normal pace and don’t you just have too high expectations.