You have probably heard the expression, “Leave your ego at the door.” This adage is a staple at many academies and most even have this exact sign (if not some variation) displayed prominently in the building. The problem is truly taking it to heart. Why is it so difficult? Plainly put – nobody likes looking stupid! People enjoy doing what they are good at and therefore avoid doing things that they are not good at. It’s an expression of one’s ego. In the case of the martial artist it often means once you get good at something you tend to stay with it.

Specializing isn’t  a bad thing – everyone should have a set of go to techniques and a strategy with which they are intimate – but make a conscious effort to not get so caught with improving your strengths that you ignore your weaknesses! Your fastest progress often stems from working your weaknesses. Weak links appear in a wide variety, let’s examine a few.

Takedowns. Many bjj schools spend little time covering takedowns or worse never address the takedown. It is essential to learn and perfect at least a few takedowns – how do you plan on getting the fight to the ground?! Take the time to find a skilled judoka or wrestler and drill takedowns for a few minutes after every class.

Endurance. Let’s face it, the two minute Hercules does exist. If you are the guy that starts off strong but fades two minutes into the roll it’s time to start working your cardio! Find a good strength and conditioning program to boost your endurance – maybe someplace close like Keystone CrossFit.

Escapes. Are you the guy that always has to be on top? If you never work your guard or let your partner mount you stop the insanity immediately! Let your training partners start with you pinned – cross body, full mount, even back mount. Work your defense – you will need it sooner or later!

Flexibility. If you can’t bend over and touch your knees you have a problem! Stretch everyday, after every class while you are hot and sweaty. Do NOT try to stretch before a class – it’s not 1970! You will get the best results from stretching after training while your muscles are warm and gummy – ever try to bend frozen taffy?

Obviously these are just a few examples of weak links. Maybe you suck at armlocks or sweeps. Maybe you can’t hold a pin to save your life. Don’t be a slave to your ego – identify your problem area and work it – there has to be chaos before a shining star is born! If you can’t be honest with yourself or are having difficulty figuring out what is holding you back consider booking a private lesson – your instructors will always have the answer!