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Training Mental Toughness for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

I listened to something interesting the other day, I’ve linked it below. It’s an interview with Alex Hutchinson here he talks about his breakthrough moment of running faster when not looking at the clock. There’s a whole discussion about this in the podcast that you can delve right into. But if you want it boiled down, essentially, he’s discussing how to break the mental limits your body performs under for endurance racing.

Check it here - https://youtu.be/LRlpoMjaHK0?si=v8apiAkd_6T8TjCa&t=443

Now endurance racing isn’t Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but there’s something in there for us grapplers. I don’t want to disparage anyone, but in my experience, most people’s limits are set fairly low. When they begin to struggle physically, they’re already thinking of a way out. This might be you. Actually that’s not accurate- this is definitely you. It’s everyone. After all, who wants to suffer? People vary in this matter only by degree. Some will look for that way out once their heart rate rises a little, and others will hang in until they’re burning up. But we’ll all quit sooner or later.

I made a decision when I was about 19. I had an inferiority complex born out of, well, inferiority. I wasn’t the fastest, strongest, or most talented at anything I’d ever done, so I resolved to be something else. I would be the hardest worker in the room. I would do it harder, faster, and longer than the other guy. And if I couldn’t do more reps, at the very least I was doing more work by trying to get there.

It wasn’t always the smartest training, and I suffered a bit for it in skill development at times- lashing into things when I should have been fine tuning, but it did give me a tolerance of pain. I could hang in there on the stuff that burned your muscles- the high rep stuff, the sled pushes, the conditioning. I’d go until I fell over. As a result, I developed a high ceiling for those times when mental toughness was required.

As an aside, I see that in some kids- teenagers or young men. I catch that expression during the graft and I recognise it. In all honesty it makes me want to sit them down and ask them where did it come from? What's doing this?

I don't know, but I know it's not so simple as testosterone or something like that. Fascinating!

My point is in the word “developed”. I wasn’t born this way. I didn’t start this way. I had to learn it like I learned how to ride a bike. I used to think others were born with it, and I just didn’t have that edge. But I learned it by making a decision first to be mentally tougher, and then by going into places that needed it over and over again. I thought I had physical limits, but these were self imposed, and my actual ceiling was a great deal higher. Still not as high as others- I’m no superman- but extraordinarily higher than my original expectations.

So to me, it’s training, like any other. But like any training, practice makes perfect.

Thanks for reading. See you on the mat!


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