Today I want to write a little bit about a mentality I used to have, and a lesson I learned from having it. We are all guilty of having an ego from time to time, and it is important to appreciate the reasons to stay humble.
During my college years early on in my movement journey, I trained with the MMA club. It wasn't anything too hardcore, mostly just some basic Muay Thai and BJJ. Occasionally we did some weapons work like Escrima or Kali.
The club was run and frequented by average college students, so my having above average strength, flexibility, pain tolerance, and work ethic came as an advantage. I was able to progress pretty quickly, though it may have been attributed to my preferring training over partying.
I felt especially confident during the grappling portion, but I would soon find out that my confidence was very misplaced.
I had played around with some wresting as well but never had any formal training. I found if someone was close to my size, I was able to overpower them. However, someone who had actually trained in wresting was usually able to pin me.
Fast forward a year or so, I am visiting a friend's college during my long winter break. They have an open BJJ training where visitors can sign a waiver and roll. At this point I had already been training(many bad habits, though I didn't know it then) capoeira, MMA, tricking, basic tumbling, and some gymnastics strength so I had a pretty high self opinion. Prior to rolling with who I believe was the teacher for the BJJ club, I thought I would have at least been able to hold my own against him due to the stuff I had been doing. I could not have been more wrong.
I did several rounds with the BJJ teacher, and every time he would literally have me in a lock within seconds. It didn't matter how much stronger than him I may have been or thought I was, superior technique and experience beat me every time.
So this is what it's like to actually be good at grappling, I thought to myself. Turns out I was a big fish in a small pond. I had never previously experienced BJJ at a higher level, and that caused an ego to form.
I have gone through similar experiences with other forms of movement, but none as profound as this. I had completely gotten my ass handed to me.
Here are several lessons I learned from the experience(I didn't grasp a lot of these until many years later):
There is always someone better than you
If there is nobody in your circle better than you, seek someone out on occasion to be inspired and/or humbled
As soon as you think you'e "good", you automatically lower your guard
As soon as you think you know something, it impedes your learning capabilities and closes off your mind
Stay humble, continue through life as a beginner and a student. I have found that the further I go, the further I see there is to go. Every step I take forward gives me a better view of the world, and I see how vast and overwhelming it really is. It's not discouraging by any means; I would rather be aware of the possibilities. You could be the biggest fish in your aquarium, but there is a whole ocean out there.