Reading to Improve BJJ...Part 2
Reading short articles of a page or 2 in length are appropriate for the purpose of stimulating the brain before Jiu Jitsu as we are just “activating” our brains to gear them up and set an overall emotional mood and stimulate cognitive areas of the brain involved in learning, memory and motivation to bring positive energy and results into the day or training session. Further reading in great detail has huge benefits that are beyond the scope of what I’m prepared to write about here, but essentially the more you read, the smarter you will become overall and certainly within the context of your subject of choice. As BJJ practitioners, we are generally limited in the amount of material out there, but the more you do read, the better your game will become. Fortunately more and more material is being written by people in the sport for us to choose from. We can cross over into other athletic fields and learn much from the researched material as it may have a similar benefit, such as wrestling, judo, swimming, track and weight training to name a few. Training ideas can be found with scientific research backing up many of the theories presented and incorporated into our jiu jitsu.
But as far as the benefits of reading for daily motivation, we are restricted temporally to a few minutes in order to help direct us towards our individual goals. A good way to start the morning upon waking up is to get a short piece that has positive emotional qualities. Uplifting and positive reading material will help to get our attitudes and emotional states aligned with our expected outcomes and goals. A book of quotations is excellent for this purpose. Unless you have an advanced degree in history, political science or philosophy, you will probably be introduced to a good number of people whom you may never have heard of, but will probably be able to learn a lot about and from. Famous presidents and generals in history are excellent sources of inspirational quotes. Sun Tzu, Patton, Napoleon, Julius Caesar are examples of people who offer great material to read. Perhaps Gandhi, The Dalai Lama or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be a benefit for others.
Jiu Jitsu quotes are easy enough to find if you look online for them with a quick search engine query. Due to the nature of how many pro fighters arose to glory, you may find them both inspirational and hilarious. See some of Rampage Jackson quotes if you want a better idea of what I mean by hilarious. There are also many other stories about athletes overcoming adversity and beating the odds. The inspirational material will trigger combinations of hormones, endorphins and chemicals that will stay in the blood stream for sometime benefitting us throughout the day as we work, train, compete and live. This is where a little preplanning goes a long way.
There are plenty of BJJ magazines and websites with excellent information out there that offer fantastic reading opportunities to improve one’s BJJ knowledge while strengthening one’s mind. A trip to local book store or google search will return seemingly endless possibilities. As fighter’s we are always finding new ways to strengthen our bodies but we often neglect the single most important aspect of jiu jitsu, which is our brains. The nature of the material you read will help guide you through the type of mood you desire to be the underlying essence of how you feel throughout the day while potentially providing you with excellent technical knowledge of the sport and its practitioners and history. If you wish to train hard, you can read an article on the importance of hard work and effort. If you wish to gear up for a major competition or fight, a story of success or that of a champion fighter will hopefully help to inspire greatness.
Whatever direction you chose, you will ultimately be able to choose your reading material based on your own personal interests and requirements as a fighter and an athlete. As with most things Jiu Jitsu related, this is beneficial in other areas of life as well. Many of my students who have tried these techniques have come back to tell me that this opened an entirely new area of their minds and they have begun to make huge gains on the mats. When you have found yourself hitting a plateau in your game, you may want to try something new out. This technique is so simple and logical that once you think about it is hard not to understand how and why it will be a huge benefit to anyone who commits to it.
Once the flood gates have been opened, there is no turning back and the new knowledge you acquire through a little reading will manifest itself through your physical actions in the gym and on the mat. The BJJ you learn in class and in reading will permeate into your subconscious and have more pathways to reach your periphery when called upon. Often this will happen in a subtle way. You will react without thought to an opponent’s advances and flow instinctively. This can be achieved by repetition in the gym and through a little reading. When this begins, you will notice the change in your game and huge strides you will begin to make.