X + Y = Progress

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How can you make progress in BJJ?

I’m not talking about getting promoted to your next belt.

But I’m talking about something as simple as improving your skills.

There can be all sorts of ways to make progress in BJJ.

And I want to share a pretty good formula with you.

I didn’t come up with the formula, and the person who put forward this person is not a BJJ guy.

This formula is pretty straightforward and sounds too simple.

Yet when you think about it, it makes sense… and you might realize that many of us don’t really follow it.

So, what’s the formula?

Pain + Reflection = Progress

Ray Dalio explains that pain plus reflection equals progress. Dalio is the founder of Bridge Water Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world.

He’s talking about this formula in the context of how to live a successful life. Still, this formula is so fundamental that it applies to skill development in any area, including BJJ.

If you’re curious about how he explains this formula, check out this 1 min video.

Now, let’s connect this formula with BJJ.

First of all…

What’s “pain” in the context of BJJ?

Experiencing pain in BJJ doesn’t mean “not tapping to armbar” or “going way harder than you should”.

It can be as mundane as making mistakes.

This is an interesting point to consider because you generally want to minimize your mistakes as much as possible when you grapple.

But for you to make progress, you need to put yourself into situations where you make mistakes.

What’s going on?

This is where reflection comes in.

What you want to do is something like this:

When you practice, make sure to try something you think might be better than what you usually do.

If it works against your training partner, that’s great.

If it doesn’t work, congratulations, you’ve just made a mistake!

Think about what you did and why it didn’t work.

Next time, try to change your move a little bit… so you won’t make the same mistake again.

I painted a simplified picture, but the point is to collect mistakes, reflect on them, and try avoiding making the same mistakes.

When you stop making the same mistakes, that means you’ve made some progress.

I know this sounds too simple.

But the reality is that many of us tend to keep doing the same things that we know will work…

… instead of doing something that may put us into an uncomfortable position.

And even if we are open to making mistakes, we may not be reflecting enough on them.

If you want to make steady progress in BJJ, make more mistakes, reflect on them, and fix them little by little.

p.s. Ray Dalio has a 30-min video explaining the fundamental principles of success he found throughout his life. This video is like a quick summary of his book. Check out the video here. These principles apply to BJJ as well.