The Brutal, Painful Reality Of Training In A World-Class Jiu-Jitsu Gym

The Brutal, Painful Reality Of Training In A World-Class Jiu-Jitsu Gym

Many people dream of being a black belt world champion, but how many people know the suffering competitors go through every day in the gym? Learn about the

Jun 22, 2016 by Joshua Hinger
The Brutal, Painful Reality Of Training In A World-Class Jiu-Jitsu Gym
Many people dream of being a black belt world champion, but how many people know the suffering competitors go through every day in the gym? Learn about the brutal reality of what it's like to train for the biggest jiu-jitsu tournament of the year in one of the world's toughest gyms.

From Grad School To The Gym

I remember back when I was in graduate school, I would always see the guys from Atos HQ posting pictures and videos of their training sessions. And while I was sitting at a desk, working on some lifeless, meaningless, asinine Excel sheet, I told myself that I needed to be in San Diego training full time with the professionals. I used to think about how awesome it must be to train with the best jiu-jitsu competitors twice a day everyday.

Well, three years later, let me tell you… it's painful -- in a good way. Because if it isn't painful, then I am probably doing something wrong.

With the passing of the 2016 Worlds, and the end of the winter and spring training camps (Euros, Pans, World Pro, and Worlds), there has been plenty of time for reflection. It was a grueling four months of hard training with very few substantial breaks. The breaks that we did get were only taken as individuals to rest before an IBJJF Open, or to heal the occasional tweaked knee or twisted neck. In my opinion, it is unacceptable to take days off just because I am tired, or sore, or morally defeated from the onslaught of world class jiu-jitsu with which I have surrounded myself.


Miserable, Painful Training

World class jiu-jitsu -- it sounds sexy. But in fact, it's miserable. Whether one possesses it, is striving to achieve it, or is simply surrounded by it, world class jiu-jitsu is the product of miserably painful training.

It's that kind of tough, bone-grinding jiu-jitsu that mashes your face round after round. It rubs your skin raw. It twists you, bends you, and sucks the wind out of your lungs. It isn't something you necessarily look forward to in the mornings when every inch of your body aches.

But those that do it understand that the suffering and sacrifice is a means to an end. As the great Muhammad Ali once stated, "I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'"

I certainly did not enjoy the majority of the training sessions that I attended during the 2016 Worlds Camp. I did them because I knew I had to, and because I knew I would be a better competitor for it.


The Daily Battles

For me, the hardest daily battle is forcing myself to choose the toughest training partners round after round. This becomes especially difficult if I've spent two or three rounds on the bottom of someone's smash pass, or tied up in the wormy lapel web. With every successive battle, it becomes more and more tempting to seek out a lower belt and take an easy round. This is where one's mental fortitude comes into play.

This is what I think separates the very best from the best. They become the best because they constantly seek out the toughest training partners every single round, and they push themselves to their physical and technical limits each and every round.

Any individual can make a training session as hard or as easy as they want. At Atos HQ, I have 40-50 training partners to choose from on any given day. I can choose eight blue belts for eight rounds, or I can choose eight black belts for the same. The choice is mine, and no one else will question me for it.

No one will know who my 8-10 training partners were for that morning, because they are only concerned with their own line-up of partners. Only I can make my training session as hard as possible. No one can do it for me. Furthermore, maximizing my training doesn't stop at just choosing the most skilled partners. What happens during the rounds is equally as important as choosing the toughest partners.

I can choose to passively sit in deep half guard for 8 out of 10 minutes, or I can aggressively throw every attack possible at my opponent for every minute of the training round. Again, no one will truly know the amount of effort I put into the rounds except me. And at the end of the day, I have to live with my decision to put everything I had into every round -- or, make excuses about why I didn't push myself as hard as possible.

Getting Out Of Your Comfort Zone

nullOf course, many people experience low moments during training camps. If you are uncomfortable and frustrated during training, you are probably training in a way that you need -- that is to say, with tough partners, long rounds, and hard fights. You take yourself out of your comfort zone. You challenge yourself in the pursuit of technical growth.

What drives me each and every day is the fear of dealing with guilt. I know I will feel guilty if miss a training session. I will feel guilty if I don't try to pair up with the toughest guys in the room. I will feel guilty if I don't push the pace of the rounds with my training partners.

I push through the training sessions each and everyday because I want to go to sleep that night knowing I did my best for that day. And, I push through the training sessions because I know that I don't want to go back to crunching numbers at a desk.

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