Following a conversation yesterday it reminded me that a lot of people have asked me the same question, how does a black belt get challenged in training without other black belts to train with?
This also applies to if you are the big fish in the small pond at your gym.
The answer quite simply is to handicap yourself. If you smash everyone from top then play guard. If you are a guard player then develop your top game. If you always attack, then play defence.
Even more so in MMA; you have striking, clinch, wrestling and ground to work between. I have never seen anyone, not even high level pro fighters, that couldn't improve at least one of those ranges.
It's not rocket science.
If you don't feel like you are getting pushed, it is usually because you are doing the same thing over and over. If you want to get pushed then take your ego out of the equation and try something different. Expand what you do, don't just keep doing the same old thing because you are scared of tapping or the stupid notion that it is possible to lose in training. Try something, fail, tap. Try again, fail, tap. At some point you will stop failing and stop tapping and you are on your way to having another solid skill you can rely on.
What makes Marcelo so good? Watch him train and see how he gets great positions but lets the roll continue by easing off and seeing how his partner reacts and escapes then Marcelo attacks that. This is why he always has an answer and a lot of other guys don't. This is how arguably the best pound for pound grappler in the world gets pushed in training.
So if you are feeling a little stale, before you start blaming other people because you are not being pushed, take ownership of what you do and see if there is anything you can do to help.
The ultimate aim of any coach is to make their student, athlete, fighter take responsibility for their own actions. We can teach you, show you, coach you but we can not do it for you.
Take ownership, you can not fail to improve.