I was working last night at the bar and a training partner ended up coming in for a drink with a lady friend. They had dinner and a drink or two, and then she left and he waited at the bar for his bus. So we got to catch up; he and I don't get to train together that often. He trains across town at night, when I'm usually at Woodbury. We started training at roughly the same time, I think, but I have one distinct advantage: I'm 6'1"-ish, 180 lbs, and he's 5'3"-ish, 130 lbs. [You heard it here first---size matters.] He said something that resonated with me: "I see everyone around me making leaps and moving forward, and I feel like I'm just plateauing."
Why did this resonate with me? I look over the history of this blog, and I can see (and remember writing) posts about how I feel good about my jiu jitsu, and how I feel like I'm progressing. Right now, it's a little different. I know that I'm progressing and improving. I feel myself giving certain people more trouble than I used to, I see myself beating guys who used to stomp me. I take my training seriously (more seriously than I think my lovely wife would like), and I make time to roll with guys across town so that I get training in with different bodies and higher belts who are not my instructor. I hear guys complimenting my progress, etc. And it still feels like a plateau. Explain that.
For one, improvement is becoming much more of a slog, a much steeper incline. It's no longer about learning the basics; now I have to build combinations and increase push-pull sensitivity and up my aggression without sacrificing my defense. For another, I don't have people with whom to practice building those essentials. I have Klint to wreck me, I have the white belts to wreck, and I have guys across town to measure my game. I don't have drilling partners. And those are the ones I think I need right now. Blue belt, as I understand it, is where you build your game, where you craft what kind of jiu jitsu player you're going to be and determine what goes into your A game. I'm going to be here a long, long time. And I'm cool with that. What would bother me would be being a blue belt for a long long time and feeling the entire time like I'm not training properly.