Wednesday, July 4, 2012

How Do You Get Better In BJJ?

“How to get better in BJJ”

     A question that has been popping up again and again in multiple forms is “How can I get better in BJJ?” This is a simple question and can be answered in two ways. There is the simple answer and the long answer. I can say that before I present both to you that I feel qualified to answer this question due to my many years of training, competing, refereeing, judging  and coaching which has given me invaluable insight into many different fighters, instructors and competitors and their different approaches to improving their Jiu Jitsu. There are complex interactions at play and not every practitioner of the sport will respond the same way to the same training. With that in mind there are a few universal truths that I find to be common across the majority of athletes who train in this sport.

     The SIMPLE answer to how one can improve is fairly obvious to most people. It is MAT TIME. Spend as much time on the mat and in class as possible. This can include class, open mats, private lessons or drilling, either solo or with a partner. The more time you spend doing jiu jitsu the better you will become at jiu jitsu. It’s next to impossible to improve unless you practice, but there seems to be a large number of people searching for a short cut. Where there are some things you can do to help IMPROVE your jiu jitsu, without actually practicing and spending time on the mats, you will not really get good or make significant improvements. A plateau will be reached and progress from there will be slow and limited at best.
      As obvious as this seems, I cannot tell you how many search inquires I have seen from people around the globe looking for ways to “improve in BJJ” or “get better at BJJ.” The best fighters in the world are usually the hardest workers and the ones who have spent the most time most time on the mats. Marcelo Garcia one told me how they used to live in the gym and train 3-4 times a day in Brazil. The improvements will come at a faster rate than those of someone who trains only 3-4 times a week. This must be a fighters understanding from the onset of their journey in jiu jitsu. Is it reasonable to assume everyone who practices BJJ can quit their lives and start living in a gym? Of course not. But it can be assumed that there are days that we don't train and COULD be either in the gym or doing something supportive of our development in BJJ.

            The more complicated answer involves making sure that besides mat time; all other intangibles are in your favor.

Having the right motivation and drive to be successful is only part of the equation. If you are willing to put in the work, then you need to make sure that your goals are clear and you have the right support structure behind you.

If you don't love what you are doing, then you will most likely be unable to put the effort needed into maintaining a pace optimal for improvment and success.

Set clearly defined and realistic goals. Go over these goals and make sure that your instructor is aware of these goals so that he can help you reach them.

Make sure that you do everything in your power to help improve your lifestyle choices so that your BJJ can benefit from it. This involves proper nutrition and dietary supplementation.

Sleep and lifestyle choices to avoid things that are detremental to success like drugs and alcohol.
     Training and exercise is a must.  Cross training in other grappling sports like Judo and wrestling has helped some of the best BJJ competitors in the world. Look at the number of world champs that are also Judo black belts for example.

Additional conditioning from a qualified personal trainer preferably with grappling experience will be essential.

The right gym facilities and instructors is a key factor to truly develop the potential of a fighter. Without a good gym, a fighter can be limited based on space and availability of training times.

 Without the right coach, a fighter’s improvement will be slowed down considerably due to lack of experience or expertise.

The best team for the fighter is also of extreme importance. The right training partners will be of significant benefit to the overall group as well as the individual. Other practitioners who will not injure you and who will at the same time challenge you and whose goals align with yours and show up to work are the guys you want to surround yourself with.
     Support from home is another key element. Without support from family or friends who believe in you and support your goals, you will meet road blocks along the way. Someone who believes in you and what you do will help keep you motivated and driven.

 Even the financial support to pay for training, gis and gear, privates, tournaments and seminar fees is often overlooked and underrated in its importance. Without some financial backing we are limited in just how much we can do in jiu jitsu.

Supplementation of knowledge in the forms of instructional DVDs and books is another area in which people can take advantage of and get extra philosophy and techniques presented to them, but make sure that you are getting the right ones from reputable instructors.
     Complete a check list of how you train and what you do and if there are some areas that you are deficient, then you can make adjustments and thus help improve your BJJ. Where this is just a basic list, one can go into much further detail to examine these areas of training in the sport and how they can be applied to further their improvements within the sport. There are no short cuts to success in this sport and with the right environment and support a fighter can achieve great success if they follow some sound practices and show self discipline. I will go into greater detail in the future on this topic but hopefully these points will help people get a grasp on areas that they can improve on right now.

                                               2012 Jiu Jitsu World Championships

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