I think one thing that martial artists sometimes struggle with is finding training partners that are at their level. Sometimes athletes become the biggest fish in the fish tank and they have trouble growing and challenging themselves. This is something that can happen due to various reasons. In my case, this happened due to the location I moved to. There were not many black belts in the gym where I was training Judo at but there were some really decent brown belts who were in pretty good shape but they were just not as skillful as I was at the time. Preparing for Judo tournaments was a challenge since I did not have the opportunity to spar with seasoned black belts that could push me out of my comfort zone. When I trained with these brown belts they were gaining more than I was during practices, since they did not have the opportunity to work with black belts with my experience and this accelerated their growth. This really ended up improving my game since they were showing up to practice every month faster, stronger and more technical. I did not hold back and taught them all my tips and tricks in my tool box so they could grow as a martial artist and challenge me so I could grow and become a better athlete.
I think white belts who are new in the sport, are one of the greatest benefactors of lessons since they are always challenged and almost everything is new for them to grasp and learn. I always sought out gyms that were full with seasoned elite martial artists that could really kick my butt so I could learn and grow most of the time but in this case I had to work with what I had.
At the current time, the closest gym I could get an opportunity to workout with elite athletes was about an hour and a half to two hours away, and with the given circumstances I could only drive out once every couple weeks which was not a sufficient amount of time to help me get ready for the level of competitions that I was entering. Working with the brown belts at my current location and helping them improve their game, really improved mine. Since they knew all my tricks in my toolbox it became so much more difficult to throw them or get them in a submission. As much as martial arts is a single person sport, your team you are training with has a huge influence on your performance and it is extremely important to share knowledge and help the team grow in order to become better yourself. Really at end of the day, tapping out or throwing other martial artists that our less skillful than you will just boost your ego and not get you anywhere.
With time, I created an atmosphere where everyone was sharing techniques from various seminars they attended or youtube videos in which they found out a cool tip. Everyone was bringing something to the table and it made the team become closer and an amazing inspirational place to grow and become better. We all pushed each other during training and conditioning drills. We all helped with correcting each other's mistakes to make each one of us a better grappler. This made the Judo classes an inspirational place, which I think is one of the most important elements that help martial artists or really any performers grow. In about 8 months, these athletes were challenging me and even throwing me and it was really great to see them grow. Our team started winning first place since all of us were performing very and winning medals.
Even though the circumstances were not the best, I learned the power of sharing and the power a team can have on an individual. In the end, none of us could beat all of us. I think this is something that most combat sport practitioners can gain from. If you create an atmosphere in your gym where everyone is sharing and focusing on improving the level of the team this will improve your game at end of the day. Everyone has an area they are strong at whether this being a certain technique, strength or conditioning concept and when martial artists start focusing on sharing and improving the team rather than just focusing on being better than each other, this can have a powerful result. This is something I recommend all martial arts practitioners to focus on and they will notice a worlds difference in their overall game.