I remember one of my coaches jokingly tell a student of his this statement, and all of us having a good laugh. But sadly, this can be more true than anyone realizes.
Anyone who has trained for a few years can tell you that their martial arts strategy changes over time. This is usually a result of adaptation.
For example, you develop a killer guillotine choke and have a lot of success in the gym with it. But then, your training partners start to catch on and develop stronger defenses. Over time, you lose the big edge and start to focus on other techniques. With enough time, you forget about your guillotine game entirely to the point you stop using it.
As someone who has been training for over 25 years now, I have gone through many different technique specialties. When I first started training MMA in 1999, I focused on locks, and neck cranks. I was quite effective with neck cranks too, catching a lot of people with all sorts from many positions.
In this case, it wasn’t that my training partners were catching on, in fact, it was the opposite. Many were refusing to tap and getting their necks cracked. Some people just didn’t respect it enough, or realize how dangerous they can be.
Once I started teaching, I didn’t want to have a school full of people who couldn’t look left or right, lol, so I just stopped using them. My game then become more about leg locks and guard passing, which for a long time become my strong suit for most of my competitive years.
But sometimes I have students ask my about a particular technique and I think back, “Damn, I totally forgot about that move. Why did I stop using it?”
Sometimes, I can’t think of a good reason. It just faded out. With MMA, we have so many tools at our disposal, it is possible to forget things and still be an effective combatant.
I think few, if any sports, have so many techniques to master as MMA does. It is pretty much impossible to master all the tools, as our life span is so limited, especially when we think of it from a competitive point of view.
While that might be sad to some, it should be uplifting. For one, you will always be able to look forward to learning something new. The game never ends. It would be like having a favorite TV show that is always adapting and exciting, because the characters are evolving and being presented with new challenges constantly – never going stale.
Second, is that you don’t need to master everything to be successful. If you look at the top competitors in BJJ for example, they are usually known for a couple of techniques that they are exceptional at. Even in MMA, most of the top fighters are specialists, having focused on a few parts of the game and developed great strategies around them.
So don’t be disheartened by not knowing everything. That is impossible. What’s more important, in my opinion, is knowing a few things better than everyone else. After all, who would you rather have doing open heart surgery on you: an ER doctor with additional majors in communications, engineering, and ancient history, or a surgeon that specializes in open heart surgery?
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