5 Habits of Successful BJJ Students
Go to Class Regularly
This is obvious. If you’re going to actually develop Jiu Jitsu skill, you’re going to have to show up.
That feeling when your instructor is showing an advanced technique, but you’ve missed too many classes.
Apply energy outside of class to improving your Jiu Jitsu
When I wrote this originally, I had specific out-of-class activities to recommend. Watch your diet. Do strength & conditioning. Keep a Jiu-Jitsu journal. Take private lessons. But for every single recommendation, there was a person who has been successful NOT doing it.
The only common characteristic was that every person was doing something extra.
So, my recommendation is to apply energy to an activity outside of class that will improve your Jiu Jitsu. It can be directly applicable or not. Just do something – whether its eating better, studying film, starting a S&C routine, taking private lessons.
Ask for constant feedback
You get a certain amount of feedback by rolling. You try something and get submitted. You try something else and it works. But what YOU perceive and recognize is not the whole story. Your coaches and training partners will notice other things and recommend different adjustments. So ask them for feedback.
A journal is a good way to keep track of feedback. You can record your reflections and compare them to the observations of others.
When asking for feedback make sure to ask your instructors and upper belts – not just other white belts.
Fight hard and tap
Don’t be afraid to roll hard but don’t be afraid to tap either.
Every gym has a guy who refuses to train hard. I’m not referring to someone who suffered a injury or has a “real” reason. I’m talking about the guy who always wants to be “technical”. The BJJ student who believes that if his heart rate gets about 140, he is somehow offending the Jiu-Jitsu gods.
Taking this approach all the time is harmful.
When I was a Blue Belt, one of my classmates never took it out of first gear when he rolled. He didn’t make a lot of mistakes – but he didn’t have a truly threatening offense either. In retrospect, I think I enjoyed training with him because if he put me into a bad situation, I could out-hustle and out-work him to escape.
The anti-thesis of this guy was a student I’ll call “the Russian”. The Russian was 110% all the time. Training with the Russian, you could expect upkicks if you were passing the guard, full pressure regardless of gender or weight, and if he locked on a submission, prepare to scream-tap. This guy was all about getting the tap and not being submitted himself. If he got into a bad position, he would immediately cross his arms and ball up. It wasn’t about escapes – it was about not being submitted.
Both guys plateaued at the Blue Belt level.
The purpose of skill training is to develop coordination under stress. As you increase speed or weight, it becomes more and more difficult to stay coordinated i.e. have good technique. Being able to execute a beautiful seio-nage in a demonstration is different than being able to execute the same throw in a match.
Your training has to reflect this difference. If you give up every transition and refuse to go hard, then you’ll have trouble when you need to transition or go hard (duh). If you go hard all the time, you won’t be able to develop proper technique . So don’t be afraid to train hard – but don’t be afraid to tap either.
Just another training session with the Russian…
Learn and experience Jiu Jitsu in an expansive way
When I was thinking about this article, I realized that I couldn’t think of any Black Belts that have NEVER competed. I also can’t think of any Black Belts that have NEVER done No Gi or Judo or Wrestling etc.
The reason I’m bringing this up is to point out that Jiu Jitsu is a BIG art. There’s lot of ways to experience it and lots of aspects of it to learn. The successful people that I know have experienced it largely in its entirety. Whether its competing, traveling around, wearing a gi, not wearing a gi, training for time limits, dealing with no time limit, doing hard practices, doing technical practices, etc. they’ve done it all.
About Julius Park: I am a Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt. I’ve produced BJJ World Champions from Blue Belt up to Brown Belt. My next goal is to get a student to the Black Belt World Champion level and into the UFC. I have an English Bulldog, Ghostface, who has so far resisted all training methods. I teach out of Crazy 88 Mixed Martial Arts gyms in the Baltimore area.