I’ve mentioned this before but one of the biggest things I am taking away from starting Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the experience of being a white belt. After 13+ years of mountain biking I hesitate to use the term “black belt” but I’ve developed a pretty high level of proficiency on the trail.

I feel that being a white belt in something again has put me in tune with new riders a bit more. Being new at something is tough because you are in a hurry to get better but sometimes this desire to get better simply turns into feeding your ego and learning how to avoid situations that make you uncomfortable.

I realized this the other day when I came across this quote on a BJJ site…

Always try to make yourself comfortable in uncomfortable situations, and once you are comfortable there let it get worse and see if you can still be comfortable. Train yourself to be invincible. Being invincible doesn’t mean you can beat everyone, it means you can not be beaten.”

Once I started applying this on the mat my mindset changed when I started to get put into an uncomfortable spot. I started looking to relax and stay calm instead of fighting hard to get away from that position.

This allowed me to turn mental energy away from how uncomfortable I was and towards ways to improve in those positions.

On the trail I also realized that I had done this over the course of my riding career by spending a lot of time working on all aspects of riding, including…

– Technical climbs

– Technical descents

– Downhilling

– Dirt Jumping

– Riding skinnies and stunts a.k.a. Freeriding

– 5+ hour epics

– Skills drills working on track stands, cornering and manualing/ bunny hopping

Without realizing it I had been training myself to be comfortable in almost any situation I found myself in on the trail. But I also realized that not every rider has taken that approach.

The danger is to start out doing 1 or 2 of the things I listed, gain some proficiency at them and then avoid the other things because they still make you uncomfortable. If you don’t realize that the whole goal of riding is to make yourself comfortable in those uncomfortable situations it is easy to simply feed the ego by avoiding them altogether.

So here is the challenge to you – next time you go out for a ride focus on making yourself comfortable in an uncomfortable spot. It may be hitting a different kind of trail that presents challenges you don’t face on your usual trail or it may just be pushing a little harder or trying something new on that trail.

The point is to look for those opportunities grow as a rider and not let our ego take them away from us.

-James Wilson-

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