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Happy Independence Day … and what I’ve learned in BJJ so far this year

BJJ Tips - Mon, 2011-07-04 14:26

1. After a few years of training, you stop concentrating on learning new techniques and you start refining ones that you already know.

2. Sometimes, you dig up old “go-to” techniques because you’ve learned a new detail or a new way of looking at the old technique.

3. Other times, you find that techniques that never worked before, finally make sense and start clicking.

4. Sometimes, good technique is not enough.

5. You have to believe in your moves. Submissions won’t work if you don’t believe that they do.

6. (A Reminder) You learn so much more from losing than winning.

7. Active drilling – You can’t just go through the motions during the technique portion of the class. Finding a training partner who understands progressive resistance during the technique potion of the is invaluable.

More Training Updates – “Sharpening the Knife”

BJJ Tips - Mon, 2011-06-27 19:46

One of my training partners (you know who you are!) came up me today and said, “No more updates on your blog?” Thanks for the reminder … I hadn’t forgotten, but blogging is a bit weird to me. I try to strike that balance between posting something interesting vs. posting something for the sake of posting. Sometimes, I know I need to post something, but I just simply can’t think of anything interesting to say.

So, if you like what I see or if you have something that you would like to see on this blog, post a comment below or shoot me an email here.

Lately, I’ve just been trying to go to class as much as I can. My instructor told me that I just need more mat time to “sharpen the knife.” Basically, I’ve been training long enough that, for at least a while, I can survive, escape, and pin an opponent, provided we are decently matched. The next step is learning how to properly perform submissions – or “sharpening the knife.”

As Roy Harris says in his classic “Progression in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu” article, I’ve found that I really haven’t concentrated on performing submissions until I’ve had my purple belt for a while. Until now, I haven’t had the ability to really control an opponent to the point I can even think about technically applying a submission correctly. This goes back to that old conventional BJJ adage – “position before submission.” Essentially, the longer I train, the more the old conventional BJJ wisdom “position before submission” makes sense.

Harris says that in order to really be able to perform a submission correctly, you need to first “pay your dues” as a while belt. Then, you need to learn how to survive and escape as a blue. Then, as an advanced blue, you learn how to positionally dominate your opponent. As a new purple belt, you learn how to string a few basic moves together into combinations and you learn how to use the momentum of a BJJ match to your advantage. Then, after all this, you should start to develop a few submissions.

I remember reading this article when I first started and thought “there must be an easier way.” No matter how hard I tried to find a shortcut (by watching videos online or reading BJJ books), I pretty much have not deviated from the track that Harris laid out all these years ago. Only now, after 6 plus years in BJJ do I really think “okay, now it’s time to work on a few submissions.”

So, how do you really develop as a BJJ player (especially as a part-timer like me)? I’ve had a few discussions with my instructor and he’s basically told me that I have to train with people of all levels. People who are better than me allow me to work on my survival and escapes. People who are newer allow me to work on my positional dominance and submissions (sharpening the knife). People who are evenly matched with me provide a test to see if all the other training has helped me.

Until I came to my current school, I mostly trained with people who were as good as or better than me. This was great for my survival and escape skills, but my positional dominance and submissions skills really, really needed help. I guess I just need to keep putting in that mat time! There truly is no shortcut. To paraphrase Marcelo Garcia from his book (which I will review soon), if you want to get good at jiu-jitsu, you just need to do more jiu-jitsu!

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