I stumbled across this saying recently and here I reflect on it’s meanings in jiu jitsu.
Like in all areas of life, Shiny Object Syndrome is definitley a thing in jiu jitsu. The prevalence of the internet has afforded us the ability to access millions of hours of footage, from thousands of different instructors, on a multitude of different topics. Now there are 3 hour instructionals on new positions, and slight variations of positions. Every teacher and his dog has a Patreon account, and there is a seemingy infinite number of techniques on the Tube.
Good or bad? Neither. But what is for sure is that this situation makes the navigation of improvement harder to manage. More choice doesn’t always mean better. Just because you can find 300 renditions of a hip escape online, it doesn’t guarantee that you know how to do a hip escape. But it gets better. Because the Autoplay put you onto another video that shares inversion drills from the hip escape. Why not try this too? you may ask, and with that there goes your attention to something that won’t serve you.
Like most people you come at this with the right intentions. You love jiu jitsu, and you’re committed to getting better. And with some extra time and an internet connection you can seek out this information yourself to ADD to what we do in class.
The thing if you’re at Higher Jiu Jitsu, or any school with a quality fundamentals curriculum that has been battle tested, with technical, caring, effective instructors, then the path to learning jiu jitsu has been laid out for you already. Your school has it’s own set of techniques, and syllabus, and focus, and philosophy, and strategy, and that’s where you should be focusing your attention because that’s where you’ll get the most bang for your buck.
There’s a time and place for everything.
White and blue belts at Higher and abroad need to have a keen eye for the fundamentals of jiu jitsu which is self defence. This doesn’t mean kata! It means the ability to stay safe, and protect oneself from harm. Hence your job is to understand the principles of the art, how to go from water to stone and then back to water again depending on the situation, it is how to keep yourself free from injury, and it is to embody the philosophy of what we call ‘the gentle art’.
Thus you learn to negotiate, yield when it’s time to yield, and know when to counter your partner’s attacks to make them your counter attacks. Because in jiu jitsu the first goal needs to be don’t die. No check mate. Stay in the game. Effectiveness and efficiency come from there.
You may have heard this in your time on the mats, you might think you know it, but it takes years to truly understand. You need to make the errors, and take the lessons over and over again. And over time you see in the patterns and the ups and downs the true essence of jiu jitsu.
Once you get to purple belt, the training wheels are off. Feel free to commence looking elsewhere, but still be intelligent about it. Pick one or two things at a time, and deep dive to monitor systems and options from similar positions. BJJFanatics is a valuable resource because usually there’s context behind the techniques and concepts demonstrated. The instructor has thought out the path forward and it’s a good way to learn the jiu jitsu they are aiming for.
At the later belts, you understand the principles of the art, and thus you can look at anything and discuss how it fits within the core tenets of it. For example you see something silly but slightly cool. You think about the anatomy and movement involved. You’ll see hip tilts and shoulder adjustments, unlike the untrained eye. You’ll know how to make it work within your own system of affairs via timing, and leverage, and the proper mechanics. You’ll take it to the mats, and feel it, and brainstorm better ways, or sequences from there.
And therein lies the key. Most of the time, you have the answers right in front of you! The things you were working on at the white and blue belt will always come up no matter how far you delve. It’s what your instructor teaches in the Fundamentals classes, and it all just gets deeper and deeper.
It’s why better comes from boredom. Doing the same things over and over allows you to pursue the finer aspects of the moves and mechanics. Its what allows you to sharpen, and improve on your skills. Those shiny objects are fun to play with sometimes, but bread and butter is what keeps the dream alive. And that’s right there for you, and it’s here to stay, and it’s your path to success on and off the mats.