Saw this thread and has to post!
haven't trained in a while, Marines keep me busy. I started at 14, in 2000, and trained regularly till I was 18 in: BJJ, Muay Thai, Boxing, JKD, Kali, and CSW.
Then since being in I've tried to find people to train with since it was nearly impossible to train at a facility for my first 5 years in. I've participated in a few fights as well (amateur of course), 8-3 is my record so far; not bad for barely training... lol. Most time I've had to prepare was about a month and that was just twice I had that much time; that little amount of time was rough on the body :\
I've taught a handful of people for fun and plan on continuing to train and eventually teach when i get out. Maybe continue to fight as well; we'll see, since I was injured earlier this year and still am.
So... from my experience, just feel. You should be able to grapple with your eyes closed in a non-hostile environment. I'm not saying close them, but instead of looking for everything, overloading your mind with what you see, feel where the other person is, realize what can happen if he catches you in this or that position.... plan 2,3, 4...6 steps ahead. It's like chess, but your limbs and neck are at risk, not wooden pawns.
You have to get beat to get better... that's just how it works. So look at it like this: Every time you get tapped out, do you know why it happened?
How it happened?
What you could of done to prevent it?
If you can take something away from it, as a learning experience, do you think you can recognize that submission coming next time? If so, then that's one more thing that will feel second nature.
My first year in BJJ I literally was tapped out all the time or completely dominated. I was 14 years old and 140 lbs. By 15, I was only 145 lbs, but I was tapping out guys 40-60 lbs heavier than me. I learned a lot from getting my ass kicked... showed me patience and that strength isn't everything; it's setting the trap... you learn how people set the trap on you, or by watching others grapple, you will become mentally and physically stronger.
I've always believe grappling is 90% mental.
If you are too cocky, you will probably get caught when you least expect it.
If you're too scared, you will sit like a ball or always get caught.
You observe, plan, attempt to execute.. and take risks when your chance of success is more than 50%... you will learn a lot more.
Don't be afraid to be defensive, protect yourself, use their submission attempts against them. Watch them plan, let them plan, let them reach for the submission... then spin out, escape, or whatever you need to do to prevent and take advantage of their short moment of vulnerability.
Now, I excelled quickly, but I literally lived at the MMA school as a teenager. 5-6 days a week, getting my ass handed to me... but in the end, it paid off. I haven't trained under than instructor for 7 years and the only people I've every struggled with are the people I've lost to in my fights.
Point being, I think about my moves in my head all the time. what can I do to prevent this? what can I do to improve that? If this happens, what will I do? So on and so forth.
I'd also recommend learning some wrestling. Take downs are like no other and they are strong and powerful. It will also build your base extremely strong.
As Alpine said... old thread... but good advice is good advice.