Competing with Yourself
In the competitive world we live in it seems that winning against our competitors is a high priority. In Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, 2 athletes start a match but only one will be declared the victor. In team sports, 2 teams play but only one wins. It seems simple enough and the stakes are often so high that there seems to be little room for extra competition. But competing against others only shows you that you’re doing better than someone else. It doesn’t necessarily tell you that you have improved a great deal. Working to outperform your old self is actually the best indicator of progress. As a Jiu-jitsu instructor I still enjoy the challenge of competition. But I only compete a handful of times per year. The majority of my time is spent teaching and training with my students. Since I have years, and sometimes decades, more experience than many of my students, I don’t always try to just win match after match as fast as possible. That wouldn’t teach me anything or tell me that I’m progressing. It also wouldn’t be too fun for the beginner level student. Rather, I challenger myself to work out of bad positions, limit myself to only one or 2 submissions that I’m allowed to use. This type of training forces me to grow and it’s a better learning experience for the student as well.
Why Compete with Yourself
Here a re a few ways that you can work to outperform your old self on a weekly basis. To start, remember that comparing yourself to those who are operating beneath your level might boost your ego but it won’t grow your skill. And comparing yourself to those who are operating above your level will slash your confidence and demotivate you. Competing against your old self will drive progress and growth. Competition among others is natural and can be helpful but only when you find a competitor that drives you to be better. When the sole focus is to beat a specific person or drag them down, you can only stop them from winning. But you will still lose in the long run. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE competition! I believe that the intense training, visualizing, nervous energy and focus that makes up competition camp is a very good thing. And, competition goals and events will certainly fuel growth. I’m just saying that by itself, it’s not enough. You have to keep beating your old self. You must always be working to improve, even with age. Your physicality may slow over time, but your comprehension and control can increase long beyond your physical prime. Not only will this way of training help you improve at the fastest level, but you will enjoy the process so much more.