In BJJ there is an idea, met with wide agreement, that if you have tough training partners to beat you up, you will surely get better at Jiu Jitsu. It sounds good on the surface but fails to pass standard reasoning.
Legendary Strength Coach Dan John once told me at a workshop “anyone can make an athlete sore, but few can make an athlete better”. This was in reference to soreness being a measure of achievement in a workout.
While a room full of black belts to smash you into oblivion will certainly make you tougher, don’t mistake the difficulty of your training as an indication of your improvement.
Start by setting goals for yourself like escaping tough positions (mount, side mount, back mount) and use specific elements of the game to gauge your progress. Only by breaking down each individual aspect (takedowns, guard passing, submissions, etc) will you be able to monitor your improvement in each category.
We all know that riding a bike for the first time on a freeway sounds ridiculous, so too does the idea of practicing a new technique or idea on a high level black belt. A better approach would be to practice the movement in a drilling format before incrementally increasing levels of resistance or the level of skill of your training partner.
Without a plan of what you seek to improve, and a way to measure your improvement, there is little doubt to whether or not you are improving no matter who is smashing you everyday. Remember, mastery is always developed over long periods of time and just like the 20 year old who lifts as heavy as possible every day, there will eventually be an end to the gains and more likely even a loss by way of injury.