It’s up to you to define what counts as a win in learning BJJ.
Defining this plays a vital role in your BJJ journey…
… because having clear & correct expectations makes your journey more enjoyable.
And without such expectations, you may rarely feel satisfied with your progress.
OK, let’s start with what I wouldn’t recommend, especially to those who started learning BJJ not a long ago.
Submitting your training partner isn’t the only way of or the most important way of “winning” in your BJJ learning.
Because it’s pretty much like setting yourself up for a failure that will last for a long time.
It won’t take much time to learn how to do triangle choke.
But it can take some time to catch someone with it in live sparring.
Especially catching someone more skilled or stronger/bigger than you.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t aim at submitting your training partner.
Instead… set smaller wins.
These small wins are useful, especially when you roll with a higher belt or stronger training partner.
I’m sure your coach told you to focus on “survival” first.
This is a legitimate goal. It’s a small win for you.
If you roll with someone who usually submits you 4-5 times in a 6-minute round…
… try to observe what’s happening & how they catch you.
If you get submitted less… congratulations, that’s your small-but-important win.
So, the idea is:
Choose a small element of a sparring session. Then see if you can improve how you deal with that element.
Does this make sense?
This perspective allows you to see sparring as your lab where you get to experiment all sorts of things…
… rather than a battle arena, where your satisfaction depends on whether you “beat” your training partner or not.
Sure, that’s a valid way of training sometimes.
But for the most part, you will grow more when you have an experimental mindset towards sparring.
What can you improve next time?
What are your small wins?