I know I’m a day late but gotta get my mat crush Monday post out to the public. Nope, this is not a male – female post or reference to any physical attraction. This post goes out to all of those grapplers who feel their heart start to race when their favorite training partner walks through the door. That guy or gal that consistently pushes you, challenges you, or gives you that roll that makes you go straight to YouTube to figure out how to beat that f*cker. We all have one, some of us are more polygamous but either way it’s pretty much a blah training session if that special someone or few people doesn’t show up to train.
While my mat crush is more along the lines of a “nemesis,” that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case for everyone. I enjoy being pushed and I prefer to leave the gym trying to figure out what’s not working and what to focus on next but that’s just me. Some people approach their training as a bit of a social event so their “relationship” is more casual. They drill with their crush, probably own one or two of the same gi’s, spats, or rashguards as their crush, and you’re definitely not rolling with their crush before they do. Just think back on if you’ve ever noticed giggling or laughter during live sparring and thought, “What the hell are they doing?” Or maybe you actually saw it happen and someone was just swepted or submitted with a technique they probably saw coming from a mile away or have been hit with millions of times. That’s the tell tale sign of a mat crush or a budding mat crush. No ego, no animosity about it, just “you got me again man, damn, good shit ha ha” and back to rolling. They just chill out and have the most fun rolls possible, technique may slip at times but who cares. You may witness a bunch of cartwheel passes, berimbolos, or flying submissions those are definitely telltale signs of two people in a “relationship”.
No matter what and all judgment aside, we all need this type of teammate. They push you when required, provide assistance when we hit plateaus, and add humor to something we all take pretty seriously. If you know what I’m talking about then the next time you train thank your mat crush. No, I don’t mean verbally, I mean a solid fist bump before sparring, choke the sh*t out of them, laugh, and then get back to rolling.
That’s what they’d want you to do anyway. Anything more than that or different would just be awkward.
*This is not my man crush btw. I happen to like the pic. Justin is a cool dude tho. LOL
“Leave your ego at the door.” Great in theory but not exactly realistic in practice. It would be nice if you strolled into the Jiu Jitsu academy every day, hit every technique, and easily submitted all of your opponents. Your ego would be satisfied by the belief that you were the greatest Jiu Jitsu player ever and all would be right with the world. Unfortunately, that’s just not reality.
So, today, no shit there I was, advanced Gi class training for an upcoming tournament and my guard was getting passed like a hot knife through butter. Was I frustrated, absolutely, did I go Super Saiyan and crush the nearest white belt I could find? No. Besides, what would that prove? Everyone has experienced this level of frustration whether drilling something new or falling for the same old technique your opponent uses day in and day out. The difference for me is how I use that frustration in order to make improvement.
This frustration, like it or not, is the ego disguised by a different name in order to conceal ones weakness. I would however, like to argue that the ego or belief in your identity should not be shunned or demonized. Don’t leave ego at the door, rather welcome it into the gym with open arms and use it as a springboard to improvement. Ego’s bad reputation is built upon the old wives tale that ego = hurting training partners or being overzealous and muscling out of every precarious situation. Unfortunately, this view is misguided and narrow. Wile I agree and have seen some upper belts take out their frustration from a “bad roll” on a lower belt (to prove their self-worth) we should not throw the baby out with the bath water. Encourage your teammates to create focus areas for improvement when their performance does not meet their level of expectation. Review the small details that may be missing or begin to develop / refine new parts to your game, adding tools to your toolbox. Sites like TrappBJJ and Digitsu are perfect resources for Jiu Jitsu instruction / guided techniques.
I like to believe that if you are not getting frustrated in training you are either not training with the right people (cherry picking your opponents) or maybe you are a big fish in a small pond. Challenge yourself through open mats or seek out rolls with the higher belts or the guys you refuse to make eye contact with. No luck there, try signing up for a big competition and testing yourself on a big stage. Ego is good. Ego leads to improvement. Let ego drive you to better yourself not only on the mats but in life and in your career.