“Improving Your Jiu Jitsu”
by Bill Jones (BJJ Black Belt under Pedro Sauer)
One of the most common questions that new Brazilian Jiu Jitsu students ask me is, “What can I do to improve, and continue improving?”
At some point we have all asked ourselves these questions. The answers are always the same, “time on the mats.”
What does this actually mean? I have seen people show up 5 days per week, and demonstrate only a small amount of improvement; while others train only 2 days per week, and show markedly greater improvement. It is not so much about how much time you spend on the mat, but rather what you do with your time on the mat.
Rorion Gracie and Bill Jones
At my academy we have two primary BJJ classes; fundamentals and positional mastery. The fundamentals classes teach the curriculum from white, to blue belt. In these classes you will learn all of the basic submissions, positions, and transitions required to gain skill in the art. This is all set up on a rotating curriculum of 25 classes. The material repeats for 25 classes so that each student is sure to have a solid foundation in utilizing the month’s techniques.
To some advanced white belts (and blue belts), attending these classes can seem a bit redundant. I often watch students come into class and simply pass the time, waiting for it to become time to roll. This is probably the biggest mistake those students could possibly make! That drilling time is critical! That drilling time is where you can hone every small detail of your technique!
On countless occasions blue belts have attempted to submit me, and I escape. This is not because my black belt gives me mystical powers. It is because they are not executing the techniques as they should be done. When they ask me how it was that I escaped, I always explain to them the most basic version of the technique. If they can not understand the slow and basic version, they cannot possibly expect to properly execute the move while rolling full speed. So I shore up their missing details (and there are always some details that could be better) and tell them to work on it.
Many times students will watch the instructor demonstrate a technique in class, and then practice it for a few repetitions. After that, they go back to rolling and never train it again! (Facepalm!)
Stop doing that! When someone shows you something to fix what you are doing wrong, train the heck out of it! While you roll for the rest of the night try focusing on just that move. Do your best to get it right. Learn to do it perfectly every time (because most of us only have limited time to train).
These are a couple of reasons why your buddy, that only trains 2 days per week, is kicking your butt!!! They value their limited training time so it becomes easier to focus on a specific goal. They do not aimlessly wander through training like a sailor lost at sea! They are focused.
Here you come, training many days per week, and you waste most of it because you do not come to class with a game plan.
Here are my two solutions for flaws that I see in many of your games. (1) You need to come to the fundamentals classes even though the techniques may seem repetitious for you, and (2) when you are taught a technique (or shown where you can personally improve) you should immediately try to utilize it while sparring live.
Time on the mat, with a purpose!
Have a game plan 100% of the time, even if your game plan is to take it easy that day!
Now go train! See you on the mats!